If you follow me on Twitter, you know I spent a chunk of the weekend reading through the minutes of meetings from the #OccupyWallSt protests. While the time spent shifting through the mind-numbingly inane discussions among these twits is time I’ll never get back, I did learn a few interesting things. Among these is the fact that the protesters are obsessed with process. Actually, obsessed doesn’t really capture it. They are singularly focused and consumed by discussions of “how” they are going to go about doing things. They are so concerned that any one person may feel ‘left out’ or that any other person may exercise too much “control”, that they spend countless time discussing and debating “how” they are going to conduct meetings; often during the meetings themselves.
Which goes a long way to understanding how the situation in the video above happened. Rep. John Lewis, a veteran of real protests to win real freedoms and rights, asked to be able to address the young, overwhelmingly white, protesters in Atlanta, during one of their “General Assemblies.” So far, so typical. Anytime a group of people gathers for a political event, politicians of all stripes will often want to speak to the crowd. And, invariably, accommodations are generally made to let this happen. After all, an elected officials adds a certain amount of ‘legitimacy’ to the meeting.
Instead, some of the protesters objected to Rep. Lewis speaking. Partly because it wasn’t yet “time” for speeches, but also because letting him speak at that time would suggest he was “above” or “more important” than anyone else there. (The second obsession of these protesters.) That the whole farce played out WHILE Rep. John Lewis was standing there is delicious. The awkwardness is palatable.
What must have been going on through Rep. Lewis’ mind, as one young while college kid after another spouted off that it wasn’t yet “time” for him to speak? The man marched through Selma and was beaten to secure basic equal treatment of blacks and here are a bunch of privileged, progressive white kids telling him, sorry, you can’t speak to us.
Exit question: Imagine if a tea party had done this? Maybe now Rep. Lewis will retract his racial smear of the tea party.