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OWS not typical hippie protest

Lucas Wilson admits fault, apologizes to movement

Guest Columnist

Published: Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Updated: Thursday, October 20, 2011 01:10

OWS not typical hippie protest/1020-11

Jessica Gomez I The Houstonian

Guest Columnist Lucas Wilson

Despite my efforts, I made a mistake, a generalization. The error happened honestly. Generalizations are usually made to validate assertions, even if gross summations seldom convince—right, Lotis? Error is human, allowing all a chance at forgiveness. My complete dismissal of the Occupy Wall Street movement merits this request.

When developing my understanding of the protest, I passively watched a couple of televised news stories and listened to idle conversations at work. The protest's menu resembled the rehashed pap usually served at these events: a large helping of radicalism, a side of anti-American sentiment and lukewarm spite, socialism and anarchism to taste. Add patchouli, greasy hair, and hemp clothing, and the generalization solidifies.

My mistake aided me in several arguments and seemed a valid counter point in those discussions, especially if I managed to change a perspective or two. Yet, I felt uneasy. I could not dismiss a potentially legitimate movement without research—I had made those conclusions peering through a pane, darkly. Recognizing my folly, I read.

After finishing an article on protestors picketing CEOs at their NY mansions for receiving government bailout monies and an article about protesters changing their clothes to appear "more respectable" citizens, I started to feel safe in my assumptions. I thumbed through several other newspapers before grabbing the Business section of the Houston Chronicle.

Loren Steffy interviewed Christopher Keeble, a sales associate, who held a sign at the March on Wall Street protest in front of Houston's City Hall. Steffy described the "sign call[ing] for an end to crony capitalism, for reforming the federal tax code and Wall Street regulations, simplifying compliance standards while beefing up enforcement and overhauling campaign finance laws."

Amid the boos and chants, an opportunity for constructive discussion presented itself. Mr. Keeble identified specific issues in order to protest their current state. He did not ask to replace the entire U.S. economic and social system, but he presented compelling problems that, once addressed, could enact productive change. That is the point.

Protest by nature seeks change. If one openly expresses disapproval on a given issue, then mediation—in some manner—should be in order. This happens if and only if ears and considerations are open. But this depends on the two conflicting parties' degree of ideological difference and resolve.

This process is not a question of ideological substitutions, but forming a synthesis of the "better" points in both arguments with regard to the established context (in this case, the United States Constitution) reaching a consensus.

Political synthesis, thankfully, does not happen instantly. Nor do wholesale ideological substitutions occur on a whim, well, almost never (see revolutions in Germany and Chile for examples). If this is the kind of change the protest attempts to enact, the cost for this fevered, dramatic change comes at the price of blood.

I am sorry.

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