I don't know what these Wall Street protests are about, but they sure are awesome

I want to stipulate up front that I am firmly on OWS’s side. I don’t really know who its leaders are, and I don’t especially care. I don’t know its exact goals—a subject on which the movement has been roundly, and in my view pointlessly, criticized. But it is desperately needed. It needs to succeed. And I fear it won’t. To succeed, it would have to model itself on 1963, not 1968. And I’m not confident that any left-wing protest movement today can understand that…

What changed, between 1963 and 1968? This: In 1963, protest was undertaken for the purpose of winning. By 1968, protest became a carnival of self-expression. Winning was the stated goal, but deep down, emotionally, it wasn’t really the goal: sticking it to the man was. Imagine that the SCLC-led protesters of 1963 had indulged in self-expression, and ask yourself whether they would have succeeded. I think I need say no more on that.

And this is where today’s protesters need to steal a page from the Tea Party activists. I beg, plead, implore, importune: Get some spokespeople out there for the cause who are just regular Americans. Don’t send Van Jones out there to be the public face of this movement.

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