Monday, October 31, 2011

Radical!!! - Part 3: OWS and more on shooting yourself in the foot.

This is looking to become a 5-part series. Links will be added as the posts become available. Part 1  Part 2  Part 4  Part 5

   When I first started drafting thoughts for this series in my mind back in September, I was thinking of it primarily in terms of atheism, though the ideas can be applied generally. Now we have the Occupy Wall Street movement and this series gained a greater importance. In part 1, I alluded to this movement in my supplementary material. Of particular interest is the picture of the woman below:

   While this woman is supporting the OWS movement, her sign is problematic. Most people probably don't see the problem (commentary reacting to the original blog post linked above support this idea). Stephanie Zvan at Almost Diamonds does a good job breaking down each point of the sign. I suggest you go read that piece, but I'll go ahead and summarize here: The woman is addressing groups that have been negatively stereotyped by those who do not want to succeed, so she is distancing herself from those groups when she should be embracing them, effectively empowering the stereotypes of those trying to destroy the movement. Just for an example, take Zvan's point of being a hippie:
It is the hippies who have kept the spirit of protest alive over these last few decades as everyone else has been calling participatory democracy “un-American.” Without the hippies, no one would have much idea how to put these protests together.

   Some of those defending the woman have pointed out that she could be making factual statements. Sure. But does she need to announce this to the world? I don't consider myself a hippie, for example. I have discussed before that I think they abuse the appeal to nature fallacy, thinking that anything natural is automatically better than anything engineered (food and medicine, particularly), but I am a fan and support that "spirit of protest," even if I might happen to disagree with what they are protesting. When it comes to OWS, I do not disagree with the hippies, so why should I distance myself from them on this issue? I shouldn't, and in fact I am with the hippies! After all, protests work better the more people you have.
If you don’t understand that part of a protest is the threat of numbers, perhaps you should be listening to the old-timers more. Without a mob, these protests would have no power.

   Long point short, don't be the woman in the picture if you support change. This includes supporting the groups that advocate for change, even if you don't agree with them on every issue. This is what I was upset about in my first post about the new girlfriend of a friend. When she was saying things like "I'm an independent." or "There are extremists on both sides" she was being that woman in the picture. Good luck advocating for change after you've isolated yourself from all the groups that are. Or, as I suggested in part 1, maybe that's the point? I'll cover this more in part 4.

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