A dismissive sneer at 'occupations' is troubling

When a normally astute, dispassionate observer of political matters lurches off course — as our editorial page columnist Bob Meadows does today — it’s jarring to read; a real head-scratcher.

To be so dismissive of the Occupy Wall Street movement that keeps spreading to other cities, so condescending toward the activists taking part — well, it comes across as embarrassingly out of touch, ill-informed and borderline arrogant.

To claim that “only a small fraction of the public” shares the views of these demonstrators is to put on blinders and willfully ignore widespread disgust and anger over corporate greed and malfeasance that wrecked the economy. Now that the bailed-out Wall Street giants are obscenely profitable again while the recession they inflicted on the country is still battering millions of folks at the low end of the food chain, the population’s anger is, unsurprisingly, starting to boil over.

There’s no compassion for those people in remarking that capitalism’s unavoidable “cycle of boom and bust” is merely “unpleasant.” A hangnail is unpleasant; losing your home to foreclosure and getting downsized out of your job is disastrous.

And here’s the utterly tone-deaf kicker: “Concentration of wealth is a necessity for a capitalistic economy, since it makes possible investments that provide jobs to so many people.” So many people where? China? India? Wealth is more concentrated than ever in the rarefied air of America’s top one percent, yet unemployment is stuck above 9 percent.

And it’s missing the point big-time to sneer at these “occupiers” for not even measuring up to the tea partiers, those obstructionists who “had a noticeable influence on what really matters, namely elections.” So the “occupiers” Mr. Meadows has no use for should just go home and read the voter’s pamphlet?

Callling the demonstrators’ actions an empty gesture and saying there’s no validity in their ideas “for achieving what they call social justice,” that sounds like just another reflexive defense of the sorry status quo that needs to be changed, somehow.

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