Political Science Lecturer, Yale University
Behind The Snarking About OWS
Posted: 10/31/11 11:38 AM ET
Jim Sleeper

In Zuccotti Park a few Sundays ago a noose of news cameras tightened quickly around a willowy, long-haired woman, her parchment face lined with the gentle cares of an aging, slightly dotty humanities professor. She had begun dancing alone, shoeless and trance-like in a long, Indian skirt and simple top in the Indian Summer light.

No such circle formed around two college students I was talking with nearby. One, a tall, pale, boy from Syracuse, had taken a six-hour bus ride to join the occupation because he felt he’d “been had” by misleading information about his student loan. The other a solid, fine-featured University of Connecticut student, works summers and weekends in his Dad’s construction business and likes Ron Paul because “He’s the only candidate telling the truth about what the banks and big corporations are doing to us.”

Either of the students might have stepped out of a fable of the early republic, and such young patriots far outnumbered the exotics and agitators paraded before us on zoom-in videos and in sinuous jottings. Everyone knows by now that anything reminiscent of 1960’s hippies and agitators is ripe fruit for commercial media. It’s a ratings-booster that whets a growing appetite for flailing the Ghosts of Left-Liberalism Past.

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