Last week, Frank Miller, a man ubiquitously described as a “comic book legend,” published his tenth blog post in over two and a half years, entitled “Anarchy.” There, he described the 2-month-old Occupy Wall Street movement and its members as “nonsense,” “schmucks,” and “a pack of louts, thieves, and rapists.”
The article was left largely unnoticed until the weekend, when it caught the attention of major news outlets; as of Monday night, the post had received over 2,000 “likes” and more than 6,000 comments. While Miller seems to have a base understanding of what the Occupiers are protesting, he seems to have missed everything of importance the people of the Occupy movement have been saying. Moreover, he readily accepts the perception of the Occupiers as merely upper middle class “babies” and petty criminals.
In doing so, he manages to completely sidestep the aims of the Occupy protests. They're not about imposing a message on anyone else — that is the reason they haven't given specific demands yet. These protests are open to everybody, including undisciplined narcissists, the homeless, and even Tea Partiers. In fact, people like Miller are actively invited to join, contrary to Miller's claim that the Occupy movement is “anything but an exercise of our blessed First Amendment.”
Miller's statement that the Occupiers are rapists and thieves reads like hyperbole and class prejudice. It is true that there was at least one attempted rape (causing a controversial but firm code of conduct to be posted at the entrance to the park) and that a noticeable proportion of the people sleeping at Zuccotti are homeless or jobless. The kitchen at Zuccotti Park has not responded to the occasional theft, and as winter comes, sleeping bags and even money are being “redistributed.” Besides being unavoidable within those conditions, as well as irrelevant in terms of the larger goal of the movement, more than a few Occupiers would claim that defending their property against the destitute would be contrary to their mission.
Miller's claim about thieves also points to a larger question about whether the corporate regulations demanded by many of the protesters are in some way immorally taking away private property, a more fundamental claim that even some people within the Occupy camp might agree with. This is simply not true; it is increasingly clear that corporations are in fact the ones that have been cheating on their taxes, paying low wages, and wasting money that could otherwise benefit American people.
The point of the Occupy movements is to register discontent. They are not there to “get in the way of working people.” They are not trying to avoid work. They sleep in Zuccotti Park to achieve the same goal Miller had in mind when he typed his blog post: to get noticed, and to effect a positive change. That's something Miller needs to wrap his head around.
Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons