Friday, October 28, 2011

From the outrage department: Iraqi war veteran gets severely injured during Occupy Oakland Protest

We've had these Occupy Wallstreet protests going on for quite some time now and it's catching on around the country where we're having everything from Occupy St. Louis to Occupy Dallas to Occupy Miami. It took them a bit of time to figure out exactly why they were protesting but it appears they've agreed on a list of grievances ranging from banks having too much power and greedy capitalism increasing the divide between the haves and the have-nots.

We have our first "casualty" in the fight against the man, and it's Iraqi war veteran Scott Olsen.


Marines have been flocking to the social networking/aggregator site Reddit to voice their anger at the life-threatening injury inflicted on 24-year-old Iraqi war veteran Scott Olsen by Oakland police during the recent Occupy protests. Video showed Olsen go down after taking a tear gas canister to the head. As fellow protesters tried to assist him, police lobbed a flash grenade into their midst–right next to Olsen’s already fractured skull.

So now everyone is in an uproar about this, and it's working to give the protesters another excuse to be out there protesting. But in a way it distracts from the initial issue, it's a cause within a cause now. And this is very common for a protest of this type, where the protesters aren't so quick to obey police and they're willing to be arrested to take one for the team and for the cause. Things escalate bit by bit day by day, and before you know it someone's injured or arrested and that becomes the new cause "OMG LOOK WHAT THEY DID TO BILLY THOSE EVIL MONSTERS...OK YOU'VE REALLY FUCKED UP THIS TIME".

The thing that makes this a seemingly perfect situation for the protesters is the fact that he's an Iraqi war veteran. If it was just some regular shmuck, they know that story wouldn't really go anywhere. People would shrug and say "eh what do you expect". But an Iraqi war veteran? Apparently we're all supposed to go "OMG WTF SHIT JUST GOT SRIOUS" and get out our pitchforks.

But we're having trouble understanding how the fact that he is an Iraqi war veteran is relevant at all. Sure, it makes for a good headline and it makes for good fodder to fuel the outrage of the cause. But why would anything any of us have done in our past excuse us from anything that happens to us in the future? The guy was clearly in an area with a group of people where police had told them not to be. They refused to leave, so the police escalated the situation and started throwing tear gas. If you stick around at that point, I'm sorry but that's kind of on you now. It's like jumping in a cage with a lion and then getting outraged when he takes a bite out of you. You knew going in what you were getting yourself into. Sure, it's unfortunate that he got injured but again, what does his past have to do with any of this? Did the police single him out and say "ok let's throw the canister right at the head of that veteran over there"?

The only reason it's relevant is because it elicits emotion. That's it. It has nothing to do with the protests, it has nothing to do with the protesters sticking around in an area after they're told to leave. And it has nothing to do with the reasons they're protesting. It's only to stir up outrage, in an attempt to wake up those who could care less about the whole thing and recharge the "troops on the ground".

We can tell this guy is serious because he underlined "brother".

Are we going to have to do this with everyone that's injured in a protest now? If someone who gets hurt happens to be a floor sweeper, are janitors going to come out in solidarity? Actually that would be pretty awesome.

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