Wednesday, November 16, 2011

'Unoccupy' Thanksgiving

Tax-paying citizens from New York to Oakland have patted themselves on the back as law enforcement agencies finally moved into parks across the country to at long last oust 'Occupy Wall Street' (OWS) protestors from these downtown venues.  Cries of "About time!" and "Well done!" undoubtedly greet police and politicians alike as city residents take stock of the damage and take the measure of the clean up efforts that will required to put things in order.  Hearty congratulations ring all around as in what curiously seemed an almost organized effort to free downtown venues from the grip of an ill-conceived and unwashed mass of humanity.  (OK, maybe not mass, but more than a gaggle and less than a herd.)

Curiously (or perhaps not so), few wondered at how so many different municipalities, many with divergent political outlooks and party control, managed to have come to the same conclusion all but simultaneously.  Being by nature a cynic and a skeptic however, I was unable to accept this.  I found that I was uncomfortable with and curious about such timing.  Coincidence is a thing of dime detective novels and not the way that cities are run; so there had to be something else.  Then it hit me ... Thanksgiving!

What would the image of NYC be if the Macy's parade were held with the potential specter of OWS protestors appearing amongst the crowd, or (worse yet) on camera during the broadcast?  How many of the normal crowd of onlookers might be persuaded to pass up a trip to Manhattan to avoid running into some of the more odious (and odorous) of the 99%?  How would the image that Mayor Bloomberg and the city desperately wanted to portray as welcome and safe be affected by crowds of the disaffected attempting to get their message across?  And I'm sure that New York is not the only city to have considered this.

How many other cities around the country are having 'Holiday Parades' that they would prefer not to have hampered by these rag-tag and ill smelling protestors?  How many cities fear the effect on downtown tourism in an already bad economy if it were known that an OWS group were on hand somewhere?  How, for example, would Kansas City's famous turning on of the Plaza lights be impacted by the shadow of disreputable, dirty, and foul-smelling people attempting to take center stage (and that's just the politicians).     

I'm sorry to rain (almost quite literally) on the parade of those whose mostly unwritten and unspoken (except in the privacy of their own homes) demands have been to take back their cities from this movement without apparent cause or purpose; but the horrible truth of it is that the right thing has been done in cities across the country once again for no better reasons than municipal vanity and seasonal greed.  

Not only do these cities not want their worst foot put forward when most on public display, but they certainly don't want a hint of impairment to a season of rampant consumerism in the way of holiday parties at expensive downtown hotel and restaurant venues, and seasonal shopping that accounts for the lion's share of profit for retail outlets in an already down economy.  

Making the move when they did allows cities to clear out and clean up the mess left behind by protestors to whom sanitation was yet another word that their expensive educations had not permitted them to grasp.  Plenty of time was left to hose downs parklands and sidewalks, dispose of the make-shift tents and trash, and process the human debris arrested on misdemeanor charges for refusing to move along.  Thanksgiving crowds will likely even find smiling city workers to greet them on their arrival next week; those workers having already given considerable thanks for recent hefty paychecks (including overtime earned during the clean up) that they have received for their disinfecting efforts. 

Yes, it seems likely that rather than the praise that we would like to heap on our local government, we may be forced to settle for measured disdain.  Altruism probably had little or nothing to do with the ultimate decision have those of OWS move along.  Instead it was invariably political expediency, vanity, and greed that motivated those ostensibly in charge to do what we all knew must be done some time ago.  We may nevertheless take some consolation, as we occupy prime seats for these holiday celebrations, that the unwashed part of the 99% has 'Unoccupied' Thanksgiving.

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