As we’ve discussed before, I’m no expert in the practicalities of politics. Yet I find the response to the Occupy protests absolutely baffling, just on a practical level. The police are routinely responding as though the Occupy people are a guerilla group trying to stage a coup — and as though they have a better than even chance of succeeding if the police don’t put their all into the counter-attack.
It’s well known that people who are convinced they are in the right are strengthened in their convictions when they are persecuted. It’s also well known that the best way to pacify opposition is to give in to at least some demands. The Occupy movement famously doesn’t have any explicit demands, other than their implicit demand to be allowed to protest — so why not try to domesticate them by simply giving them a defined place where they’re allowed to have their encampment? Even as recently as the Iraq War, there were the officially sanctioned “free speech zones” that seemed to give people an adequate release valve to make them feel like they’d protested, after which the protest movement shrank to negligible proportions. Or if that doesn’t work, why not make some token gesture toward social justice — cutting the police budget by 1% and putting the money toward schools or something? Or in the extreme case, why not, you know, actually punish a particularly brutal perpetrator of police violence?
There are so many peaceful options here — why has the universal response been such hugely disproportionate and even ridiculous violence?