Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Occupy Wall Street Learns A Lesson From Tahrir Square

Activism isn't just passive protest.

On Monday evening at Zuccotti Park, Mahfouz was eager to model the fiery disobedience with which she's inspired so many Egyptians. "Let's march!" she said after an hour-long question-and-answer session, grabbing an Egyptian flag and flashing the victory sign with both hands.

A few hundred demonstrators fell in line behind her and Maher, who gamely joined the English chants. The police allowed the march onto Wall Street itself, and at each corner the American leaders consulted an officer about the preferred route. Weary of the somewhat stilted slogans, which lacked the umph and rhythm of Egyptian chants, Mahfouz and Maher taught the crowd the iconic cry of the Arab uprisings: "Al shaab yurid isqat al nizam," or "The people demand the fall of the regime." The crowd adopted its own hybrid: "Al shaab yurid isqat Wall Street."

As they wound back to Zuccotti Park, demonstrators awaited a cue from the police before crossing Broadway. It was too much for Mahfouz. She stopped in the middle of the intersection, stopped traffic, pumped a fist in the air, and demanded the fall of Wall Street. Nervous demonstrators skittered to the sidewalk, leaving Mahfouz with just the cameras and a few dozen stalwarts who seemed willing to accept her invitation to be arrested.

I totally understand why OWS is reluctant to turn it up a notch. Things changed after 9-11, and Americans have longed feared their government more than the government fears us.
And I'm not suggesting violence, or law-breaking, but something more is going to have to happen to break the stalemate and open the floodgates.
Comments are open for suggestions.