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September 10, 2012 / needhamgrassroots

Needham Voices: A narrower focus could blunt force of the protest


November 13, 2011

AS AN Occupy Boston supporter, I couldn’t agree more with your editorial advice to hone the movement’s message before icy winds whip off Fort Point Channel ( “As winter comes, Occupy Boston should hone its economic message,’’ Nov. 7). Slinking into warm vestibules or engine-idling SUVs and from there shouting angry warnings has the whiff of a public-relations debacle.

The problem is that as soon as the focus of protest is narrowed, it loses the force of the million facets of related discontent that must be excluded. These are the “I can’t describe it, but you know what I’m talking about’’ kinds of unfairness that 99 percent of the population intuitively understand are just not right.

Income inequality is just the most egregious example of unfairness, but few if any protesters advocate strict income equality. On the contrary, most everyone is OK with innovators and risk-takers making lots of money and keeping a generous share of it.

The sticking point is dealing with such folks as the financial wizards who make millions of dollars with innovations that sink the global economy – folks who do it legally, playing within rules they themselves devise and few others understand.

This makes it difficult for the message to be honed.

The message is economic but not exclusively. It is the very broad request for fairness, whether on Wall Street or at Wilmington High School, which you cited as an example of a “small-bore’’ cause.

Winter may drive protesters indoors, but, of course, the discontent will reemerge.

Jim Miara



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