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NEW YORK – It turns out that Occupy Wall Street is not too big to fail.
The left-wing protest campaign that started with such a media-assisted bang two months ago ended with a whimper yesterday morning, as New York police shut down the protestors’ latest attempt to make a scene and generally to be a nuisance in lower Manhattan. Evicted from its base of operations in Zuccotti Park earlier in the week, Occupied Wall Street, or what remained of it, tried to improve on its former stunt by attempting to invade the New York Stock Exchange to shut it down. Instead the protestors’ so-called “Day of Action” came to little of consequence when police easily repelled them. It was just the latest setback for a self-styled movement that has fizzled out in recent weeks as public and official patience with it has worn thin.
While yesterday’s events highlight how ineffectual the campaign has become, Occupy Wall Street long ago became a parody of political cluelessness. The protestors’ grievances, while hailed by a sympathetic mainstream media, ranged from the confused to the contradictory. They raged about tax breaks to the rich “1 percent,” even as that one percent shoulders the largest share of the country’s tax burden. They denounced government bailouts for big banks, even as they demanded government bailouts for student loans and demanded that Americans “resist austerity.” They charged that “banks steal homes,” apparently oblivious to the role that the country’s biggest banks had in subsidizing countless risky mortgages that extended “equality” before ultimately collapsing the housing market. Occupy Wall Street did not so much bemoan America’s political and economic realities as invent them, with the result even the more reasonable aspects of their agenda – ending government bailouts for banks for instance – became impossible to take seriously.
Much of what Occupy Wall Street stood for would be meaningless, if it weren’t often menacing. In recent weeks especially there has been a surge in militancy among the protestors. Pollsters found that over one third of the protestors support violence to advance their agenda, a fact confirmed by the mounting violence originating in Occupy Wall Street encampments. In Oakland, protestors vandalized local businesses, set fires, hurled objects at police and shut down the local port. In New York they clashed with police and threatened to “burn New York City to the f—ing ground.” In Washington D.C., protestors laid siege to a conference by the conservative group Americans for Prosperity, knocking a 78-year-old woman down some stairs in the process. Given the protestors’ penchant for violence, it is perhaps not entirely surprising that the deranged gunman who fired an assault rifle into the White House this week was initially able to avoid police by blending in with the Occupy D.C. protestors. When there are so many violent radicals in the crowd, it can be difficult to tell them apart.
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