15 October 2011

'We are the 99%' chant sounds increasingly convincing

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.—John Steinbeck and the Joad family might have appreciated the noisy spectacle on the ghost of Route 66 here Saturday.

Central Avenue, once part of the iconic highway, roiled with several hundred loud, raucous protesters of all descriptions near Nob Hill, revealing the depth of the disgust in Albuquerque over the greed and indifference of the U.S. financial and political elite. This was the the most diverse of three demonstrations and marches inspired by Occupy Wall Street that have taken place on successive Saturdays in Albuquerque. Similar demonstrations of populist outrage across the country and globe are being reported today.

The last time the economy was this bad was the Depression, which Steinbeck personalized in The Grapes of Wrath (1940) with the Joads, Oklahoma farmers who packed their life belongings into a beat-up truck and fled the Dust Bowl along U.S. 66, the major east-west highway, through Albuquerque, Grants and Gallup, N.M., in search of jobs in California.

While chant of the emerging Occupation movement, “We are the 99%,” is sounding more and more convincing, stunned critics are sharpening their attacks. OWS organizers were derided as “Lenin's ‘useful idiots’ in Manhattan” by one Ellis Washington:

For the past month, the liberal fascist mobs have been protesting American exceptionalism, capitalism and its symbolic embodiment, Wall Street in Manhattan. These legions of largely white hippie-types, are unwashed, unshaved, unemployed, unemployable masses; prone to violence, conspicuous drug use, rantings, cursing, public defecation on police cars and promiscuous sex —yet are clueless as to what, why or who they are even protesting.

Mr. Washington would be wise to step away from his computer and TV for a moment to venture into the streets.

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