By Jason Menard
For a group that protests the monopoly that the few hold over the world’s finances, it seems to have little problem with asserting its monopoly on the concept of right. And if it accepts help from cyber-hacker group Anonymous, it’s effectively putting an end to any chance of gaining the public support the Occupy movement so desperately needs.
The Occupy London movement is currently working on its manifesto. But as we await London’s group’s next steps, we’ve recently received a threat by the self-professed hacktivist group Anonymous in anticipation of Toronto’s upcoming eviction of their Occupy group.
“By next week, if you do not change your mind. You shall be removed from the Internet,” Anonymous’ YouTube threat states, concluding with their traditional “We do not forgive, we do not forget. We are legion.”
Before we go further, let me share some visionary protesters that I admire: those who changed the world, not just through sit-ins and threats, but through actions, words, and working the system. People like Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr., — even John Lennon, who fought for peace through the courts and was validated.
So what should I call a bunch of faceless “activists” making threats against a whole population? I hate to be inflammatory, but I fail to see how their tactics are anything less than a form of terrorism?
We are allowed to disagree. We are allowed to fight the power. If the removal of the Occupy Toronto (or Occupy London, for that matter) encampments is truly against the law, then you fight it in the courts. You stand up for your rights all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada – and you prove you’re right.
You don’t threaten the very livelihood of the 99 per cent you’re allegedly supporting. You don’t support an action that could have a vast-reaching impact not just on the local government, but perhaps the people struggling to make do with their businesses – businesses that may rely on the internet to attract or direct customers to their shop so that they can make a living.
You know, the living I’m allegedly supposed to be supporting?
Yet, because government is supposedly faceless, we’re supposed to be comfortable with this. But government is not faceless – they are actually our faces. While I may not agree with my elected representative on all issues, I do know I can call her up, talk about the issue, and have my voice heard. I also know if enough people do the same, it will certainly impact her opinion on what the Ward/Riding wants. It’s working the system — but it takes time and effort.
Perhaps this is reflective of the me-now mentality of today’s youth – the idea that certain aspects of life, for which previous generations have had to work, are taken for granted as something owed to them. In many ways, this Occupy Movement has been merely protest for protest’s sake. That may be enough for the participants, but it’s not enough to gain the support of the majority of the 99 per cent – the very people you alleged (and presume) to represent. And for the movement to have any success, Occupy needs the 99 per cent supporting them.
It’s not enough to stomp your feet and demand change; as we grow up, we learn that we must be part of that change and be willing to present and be part of the solutions. Most importantly, we all must learn to respect each other’s opinions. Different does not always mean wrong. And might – whether it’s through the form of police force or squatting in a public park – certainly does not make right.
King Jr., Gandhi, Lennon, and the like all had two things that the Occupiers are neglecting – one of which creates the other: and that’s a clear, defined message which would garner public support.
The Occupy movement has put the cart before the horse: with no message, the public’s tolerance level is strained. Now subjected to threats, how does the Occupy movement expect the average citizen to react? Scare tactics only induce fear and that seems to be counter-productive in terms of garnering support.
Instead of threats (and I’m pleased to see that the working document of the Occupy London manifesto has been changed. An early edition used the term, “We have, so far, remained peaceful…” which was an implied threat. It now reads – at least at the time of this writing, “We have, so far, and will continue to remain peaceful…”) the group must give the public something to embrace.
For a group that’s demanding the respect of so many, it’s time to give some back. Understand there will be those who disagree with the message, the tactics, and the movement. That’s OK. If your message is solid and resonates, you will gain support organically. And that’s why their refusal to-date to set up an information tent is discouraging. If I had a message of this importance to share, I’d be doing everything I could to get it out so that I could get the conversation started based on fact and ideas, not innuendo and speculation.
The Occupy movement may feel people are just looking for an excuse to dismiss them. But there are equally as many of us out there looking for a reason to support them and embrace their message wholeheartedly. A manifesto is a start because the message is the most important thing.
Getting in bed with cyber-terrorists like Anonymous and playing the politics of fear? You’ll only end up screwing yourself — and your message.