I went with friends to the Occupy Portland event at Pioneer Courthouse Square Portland at Noon last Friday. It was headlined by the band Pink Martini who played a bunch of songs in between a series of speakers. The GLBT folks were out in force and somewhat dominant in the event, as it was convened by Thomas Lauderdale, the hyper bandleader of Pink Martini who is securely tied to the GBLT community and the Oregon Democratic Party.
The speakers were an assortment of ministers, rabbis, an imam and then a woeful spokesperson for the actual Occupiers – who were camped a few clocks away. Then a rah rah “we’re here to lead you” speech by the head of Oregon’s AFL-CIO. Then a couple political hacks, Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR) and Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) came on and cheer-led the crowd with substanceless speeches. DeFazio’s speech was as void of substance as his 26-year Congressional record is of any accomplishments; but, if he’s done anything in those 26 years, it’s to refine his phony hissy fit persona to perfection.
It was a textbook example of folks “jumping to the head of the parade.” With classic Portland New Age babble, cribbing from their usual GLBT speeches, minister after rabbi talked ludicrously about “inclusiveness.” They even brought up the need to get to 100%! — That the other 1% were actually part of us and hurting, too and we need to “include” them.
What it wasn’t, though, was anything close to “inclusive,” itself. There was not much political analysis at all, if any. They certainly did not “include” any left analysis of just what is wrong or any real look at just why all those folks are camping out just down the street from the Square. The only speech that was remotely political was Paul Cienfuegos speaking on Corporate personhood.The only thing remotely connected to our devastated environment was a sentence by one speaker about fracking for natural gas. The only attempt to even remotely connect the dots to the party of the chosen politicians was one rabbi’s sentence that the “Democrats and Republicans both share blame” (Don’t know how he got that by the censors.).
That lack of real inclusiveness and the ties to the Dems seeking to co-opt the Occupy Movement were brought home loud and clear when Blumenaeur began to speak. A large contingent in the crowd held up signs, blown-up photos of the Rep. and a huge banner taking Blumenaeur to task for recently voting for yet another “Free” Trade bill. (Both Blumenaeur and DeFazio talk a good game, but the proof is there for anyone to see in their voting records.)
The woman on the mike, Storm Large – working her way into lead singer for the band and obviously not wanting to blow that opportunity - could have used it as a real solidarity opportunity, “Well, Congressman, we are an inclusive community here and a lot of the folks here have an issue. What do you have to say about it? Would you take some time and address their concerns?”
But, no, Large shut down the protesters, tsk-tsked them about being “respectful” and the Congressman was allowed to go forward with a meaningless speech with no larger purpose than, as noted, providing the Dems, GLBT and Labor a spot at the head of the parade.
I had thought it would be the coming weather that undoes the Occupy movement. Not anymore! Typhoon Self-promoter has already made landfall.
MICHAEL DONNELLY live sin Salem, OR. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org