The problem isn't conservatives. That's not what I worry about, when it comes to my residual hopes for real change. The screeching of pathetic drones like Rich Lowry or Kevin Williamson is expected and immaterial. They don't change, nor are they corrigible, so they are ultimately irrelevant.
No, here's the problem.
Someone called Tom Bridge takes to the tastefully gated pages of Tumblr to express some sort of formless complaint about the Occupy protests. I've read it back three times and I'm still not sure what kind of argument is being expressed here. There appears to be an annoyance that Occupy protests are "taking up our public spaces," which is a criticism that is perhaps blunted by a familiarity with the definition of "public." He doesn't like the equation of the Occupy protests with the Arab Spring. I don't either, but then this is the kind of empty, citation-and-specific-target-free complaint that you can feel free to discard at any time without prejudice. He also is apparently under the impression that a police baton feels like the gentle caress of angel hair. Beyond that... what? What is the argument here? I haven't a clue.
What's funny is that this is a perfect inversion of the typical whinge about Occupy-- you don't stand for anything! Where's your list of demands! Who is the specific Democrat whose campaign you must be supporting!
You'll note, though, that this sentiment is popular. This Tumblr post has been reblogged and Tweeted and whatever else endlessly, despite not being insightful, fair, well articulated, specific, funny, meaningful, or intelligent. It doesn't need to be. Mr. Bridge is here operating as a cog in the resentment machine, and others celebrate his piece because they are afraid of what Occupy represents: the death of the idea that you can be protected from political impotence by apathy and your cultural convictions.
This photo is prime evidence for my conviction that anything, no matter how lame or poorly executed, can be celebrated online, as long as it speaks to some kind of base animal anxiety. For Hipster B. Cool here, the idea that politics is something that has flesh and blood consequences for humanity is a terrible affront; he and those like him have built an entire culture around self-defense mechanisms. To admit conviction is to admit the possibility of vulnerability. To admit vulnerability is to lose in the endless game of "I am on the Internet and I am better than you." So Jackof Smirnoff here doesn't have to have a point, funny jokes, meaningful criticisms or a political notion to get reblogged. He just has to reassure his "arty" koffee klatsch that they are protected and safe within the bubble of their meaningless convictions about media and culture.
I mean, really. "Call a Congressman." Yes, that's the way to create change! Remember how Congress took action after the financial crisis and all of our problems were solved? When the money stopped going to the same tiny group of rapacious financiers who drove the entire world economy to the edge of the abyss? When the unemployed got a comprehensive jobs program? When we stopped spending billions on misadventures in the Muslim world and instead stimulated the economy and rebuilt our employment base? That was sweet.
The idea that the Occupy protests have no core complaints is and has always been a pure media phenomenon. It is an invention, fobbed off on people like Tom Bridge or Beardo McNotFunny here by a media that plays them for fools. I'll say it again-- there are those who are so deeply savvy that they become immeasurably stupid. (Think almost everyone who writes for New York magazine.) Here's all you need to know. For the large majority of our country's people, the engine of economic improvement has stalled. You can look at any chart of inflation-adjusted dollars and see that for the average American worker wages have been stagnant since the early 1980s. Meanwhile, for a tiny sliver of our population, wealth has exploded beyond the dreams of avarice during the same period. And this sliver represents the same people who ruined the economy and cast millions into unemployment. What Occupy represents is the loud and angry reaction to that fact. This reaction has been deeply deserved. Meanwhile, the legislative branch which Seamus J. Ironic Mustache here supports has done nothing of substance to redress this injustice. Nothing at all.
I genuinely believe that a person like Socially Approved Facial Hair here has to look out at Occupy with a kind of existential terror. Many people out there generate their self-worth from their ability to make fun of others. And who has traditionally been an easier target than the stereotype of an Occupy protester? Hippies are the people everyone can make fun of! Unfortunately for this anonymous man with his limp satire here, Occupy is not made up of the stereotype, and it has not been met with this kind of showy superiority. Instead it has been met with cautious but genuine interest, with critical examination, and with a deep interrogation of our current way of life. This kind of genuine, unfussy, and unembarrassed consideration of values and community morals is anathema to many, but they find their influence collapsing. In the face of that, they take cheap swipes like this.
Let me say this a thousand times, let me say it a million: I will take the most horrid conservative over this, any day of the week. I will take someone who is wrong, but is wrong about something, over this desperately preening, showy nothing. I will take total commitment to incorrect values over this proud emptiness. This kind of showy cowardice, this contempt for the notion of meaning, is what it looks like when you give any control of your country or your community away, or worse, when you sell it for some cheap commodity like irony or "wit."
Put that on your Tumblr, culture bunny.