I would like to take a stance against Occupy Wall Street, Occupy Duke and related movements not on political grounds, but on the grounds that these occupations are an affront to all that is sacred and holy.
For starters, the appearance of the occupiers is unbecoming. Any self-respecting person knows that to be taken seriously, you need fitted suits and sexy branding. To me, ugliness is tattered T-shirts and matted hair, not foreclosures, lack of proper healthcare, a broken political system or the nearly 18.2 percent of households in North Carolina living in food insecurity. A lack of beauty reflects a lack of holiness, and the Occupy movements embody both.
I am also fearful of the possible attack to entrepreneurs that the Occupy movements pose. Entrepreneurs are the closest things we have to saintly figures in modern-day America. Gaining wealth through economic exchange is the noblest pursuit available to us. If being able to sell a product or provide a service to the point of absurd wealth is not enough of a testament to the benefit entrepreneurs provide society, we should remember that these individuals, from the goodness of their hearts, always use their extra wealth towards philanthropic pursuits.
Consider the passing of Steve Jobs. With the right mix of new-ageism and entrepreneurial savvy, he continues to inspire a generation of young Americans. In honor of his death, I repeatedly watched and memorized his own Sermon on the Mount, his 2005 Stanford University commencement speech. His humble beginning wasn’t in a manger in Bethlehem but a garage in Los Altos, California. His legacy of bringing Apple Inc. to great success against all odds and allowing privileged college students to waste countless hours online will persist through millions of shining Apple logos. Never mind the ethical complications of conflict minerals found in our iPhones or MacBooks; the significance of the suffering of people in the Congo pales in comparison to the advantages that capitalism affords to us.
The Occupy movements replace the value we put on individual ingenuity with group consensus. I, who made it to Duke due to my own ingenuity, hard work and only a tiny bit of luck, can’t accept this. Group cooperation and consensus, or socialism as I like to call it, only allows for the lazy to take advantage of the efforts of the truly great, such as myself.
As good Duke students, we desire clarity and purpose, neither of which we seem to find in the Occupy movements. To the occupiers, I suggest to look towards the example of the great Herman Cain in finding a purpose or formulating demands. It doesn’t matter that his 9-9-9 plan makes no sense and was possibly derived from a video game; Herman Cain is on television and he is leading in the polls, proof that his ideas are more worthwhile than anything Occupy Wall Street can conjure up through some ridiculous idea like participatory democracy.
Speaking of democracy, these movements are distracting us from what is really important right now in our political process: the Republican primaries. This time four years ago, Rudy Giuliani was leading in the polls and no one had any idea who Sarah Palin was. This doesn’t mean that the polls are irrelevant but that we weren’t paying nearly enough attention to the political circus. You may think it’s the clown in center stage that’s significant until you catch sight of the even bigger clown somewhere over by Putin’s rearing head.
In its greatest offense, Occupy Duke perverts our ritual of tenting. Every blue-blooded Duke student knows this sacred ritual is reserved for binge drinking and preparation for the holiest of holies: the Duke-UNC rivalry match. Religious maniacs and devotees to the stadium, the Cameron Crazies begin every game by bowing to our most honored divinity on campus and continue with our various other chants, ritual movements and ecstatic dance.
To camp out for any other reason is not only a waste of time, but utter blasphemy. What do you mean that you would like to create meaningful discourse to challenge the existing political and socioeconomic structures? I don’t see the point to these shenanigans! As you well know, our political economy is shaped by economic exchange and not by informed discourse. I would suggest that occupiers realize this, pack up and get back to trying to make as much money as possible so as to gain more political clout.
So to Occupy Wall Street and Occupy Duke, I suggest that you cease your occupation as it offends what is sacred to me and any other meaningful person: the free market, my individual pursuit of wealth and happiness as well as my sense of peace and order. My faith in these things is all I have left in these troubling economic times.
Ahmad Jitan is a Trinity junior. His column runs every other Thursday.