What I think is wrong with the Occupy Toronto movement
I’m sick. It could just be allergies — my mucous is clear — but now I have a cough and my head feels about 100 pounds. To be fair, I have a huge head.
While feeling sorry for myself I went on Twitter and learned that the Occupy Toronto protesters have been served with notice to leave St. James Park, a lovely location in downtown Toronto, where they have been camping for the past five weeks.
Of course whoever is tweeting for Occupy Toronto is reveling in this latest development because they finally have something to be excited about.
I support the occupy movement, I really do. I just don’t support the people who are running it in Toronto. My main concern is that the people involved are more concerned with being part of a “movement” than the cause.
I have defended the occupiers against accusations that they are lazy unemployed hippies looking for attention. Many of them have jobs, and are concerned citizens, afraid of longer work days, less pay and rising costs. There is no question that companies are making multi-billion dollar profits with little of that money going to the people who do most of the work. The gap between the rich and the poor is widening. Here in Argentina, there is no such thing as a middle class. You’re either poor or you’re rich. It’s scary.
But today I was disturbed by what I was reading from the occupiers. They seemed to lack focus, not the first time they have displayed this type of behaviour either. WIth the news that they faced eviction from the park, their tweets became more about the possibility of a clash between the police — similar to the one in California on Friday — and they seemed to be looking forward to it. Almost wanting it.
I will maintain that as soon as you put a camera in a person’s face they cease to be real. They change everything about their behaviour and ham it up for the photographer or videographer. I have watched countless videos of occupiers saying and doing things that they wouldn’t had a journalist not shoved a microphone in their face. What I have observed is that they lack thinking skills: they’re simply incapable of keeping the topic focused on the problem, and their solutions to these problems. The reason: They have no solutions. That begs the question: If they haven’t developed next steps for their movement, why are they still camping?
St. James Park is two minutes from my home in Toronto. I have spent countless Sunday mornings sitting with my coffee on the benches and observing the dogs playing as their owners chat. I like that park. It is no where near Bay St. where the financial institutions are located. The question has arisen countless times amongst Torontonians in the St. James Park area why protesters have chosen to occupy the park, and not somewhere more obvious, like City Hall?
Anytime a question has been posed to the occupiers they reply with an invitation to come down to the park and have a “conversation” with them. I wouldn’t mind doing that but I’m in Buenos Aires.
How many conversations can they have? Conversation is very important, and diplomacy is obviously better than violence, but what are their next steps? What policy changes would they like to see implemented that does not involve the standard higher taxes for the rich.
News flash: They live in Canada. The rich are taxed a very high percentage in Canada. At times it appears that the successful are being punished.
To take a quote from an article I read in the Toronto Star this afternoon: “This is no longer a ‘conversation;’ it’s just another one-way diatribe co-opted by special interest agendas.” This was written by Rosie DiManno, a woman I never agree with. But today, I did.
The protesters have lost sight of their main objective, and they have allowed their ego, and their passion for protesting to cloud their judgment.
A lot of their tweets are overwhelmed with hyperbole and rampant generalized statements that mean nothing. I don’t argue that there needs to be global changes in the way that we do business and that we have a growing problem when it comes to how wealth is distributed, but I don’t think sitting in a park and pissing off the people who live in that area is the way to do it.
I will always support the right for activists to peacefully protest without the fear of violence from the police. But I wish those in Toronto were a little smarter, were able to outline a game plan and spent more time learning facts about the plight of the cause they are protesting.
For many of those camping in St. James Park it’s about being part of a cool movement. This should have nothing to do with building a cool and hip image.
Too many of the protesters continue to believe that they are part of a global game changing phenomenon. That should be the last thing on their minds. The first and only thing they should care about is ensuring that the disenfranchised see a light at the end of a very dark tunnel.
I know I ended on a cliche, but so what?