“Why I Make Myself a Nuisance”

At least when the Tea Party protests, they go back to work the next day.

With the anachronistic sea of barefoot, guitar-playing, drumbeating protestors entering its eighth week of disrupting traffic in downtown Manhattan, the debate about the merits of the Occupy Wall Street spectacle has spread to the Dartmouth campus. In light of the increasingly self-righteous and overwhelmingly prolific group of five whole students erecting a rather sad-looking shantytown in front of the Collis Student Center, our peer publication, The Dartmouth, decided to publish a series of editorials covering the controversy. We would like to commend the efforts of columnist Kevin Francfort, who injected a dose of reality into this surreal episode by suggesting that if the protestors in question really wanted results, they might have more luck packing up and picketing 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. In a well-researched piece, Mr. Francfort told a tale of numbers, effectively arguing that the housing quotas set by both the Clinton and Bush administrations paved the way for 2007-2008 financial crisis that so many protestors blame for their alleged disenfranchisement. Rather than the all-too-familiar refrain of corporate greed, Mr. Francfort suggests that it was the well-meaning but fiscally foolish policies of big government that the inhabitants of Zuccoti Park should be remonstrating.

As much as we like to laud the common sense approach of his op-ed, we cannot give Mr. Francfort all of the credit; he was helped a great deal by the laughably absurd “rebuttal” that guest columnist David Savenije contributed. In his article entitled “Why I Occupy,” Mr. Savenije attempted elucidate his motivations for participating the movement. His explanation left me with some unintended answers.

In an uncoordinated mishmash of bizarre ideology, scare tactics, and falsehoods, Savenije contended that he joined Occupy Dartmouth to preserve an American Dream that was being jeopardized by greed, income ininequality, and the distortion of the participatory element of democracy. Replete with bombastic and ineffective rhetoric like, “We are small and virtually insignificant creatures…“ and “…to the seemingly infinite universe,” the piece is completely devoid of any clarification or specificity. But this is not its primary failing. 

In his opening paragraph, the author reveals that “[he] was not born in America and [he is] not an American citizen,” and that he “made mistakes and got in trouble with the law.” Mindful of his criminal record, he fears that once he graduates from Dartmouth and leaves the country, he “will never be let back in.” Expecting that this revelation will cajole readers toward empathy, Savenije then hands them the flag to wipe the tears from their eyes, claiming that as his American Dream comes to an end, he has joined the Occupy movement to preserve theirs from the greed and dysfunction of wealthy individuals. It is here that the author unwillingly reveals exactly what Occupy Wall Street is all about.

By his own admission, despite being given the enormous privilege of attending one of the greatest institutes of higher education in the world, Mr. Savenije cannot play by the basic rules that govern society. As evidenced by a criminal record so egregious that it would obstruct his returning to America, he has a history of flouting the rules in a destructive manner. Not surprisingly, “as his American Dream comes to an end,” a man who has been given such a wonderful opportunity for success is not happy with his situation. However, rather than reflecting upon what he did to deserve this fate, the author has turned his disaffection outward. Searching for any target but himself, he has found a home in a movement that blames the only thing more amorphous than itself: society. Like the millions of Americans who associate with the directionless anger of Occupy Wall Street, Savenije concludes that his present situation has nothing to do with the choices he made as an individual, but rather the “fundamental dysfunction!” and “inequality!” and “corruption!” of this “wretched system.” Like much of the protestors ensconced in Zuccoti Park, the author choses to sit in front of Collis, strumming a guitar and blaming others, rather than taking some personal accountability for the reality in which he finds himself. And yet he dares to “wrap himself in the flag” and call this misbegotten movement of his an “exercise in Democracy?”

The time has come for individuals like Mr. Savenjie to take some personal responsibility. Only after they have done this, can they offer constructive suggestions about how society can be improved.  

 

— Nick Desatnick