In addition to “Occupy Wall Street,” there’s also an “Occupy D.C.” protest afoot. Yesterday those protesters tried to enter the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum and clashed with museum guards. At least one protester was arrested and the museum had to close two hours early.
The “Occupy Wall Street” people apparently are consciously leaderless; some news stories describe how the loosely organized protests allow everyone to have their say. That may sound good, but if it causes the protesters to make decisions as idiotic as trying to occupy the Air and Space Museum, the protests will quickly become the object of anger and ridicule on the part of most Americans.
If there is a single concept unifying the diverse messages brewing in the “Occupy Wall Street” protests — and I’m not sure there is — it is anti-corporation. How is closing down the National Air and Space Museum consistent with that generic message? Do the protesters really think most Americans view the Wright brothers, Charles Lindbergh, and the space program as tools of an evil corporate culture — as opposed to, say, inventors and brave aviation pioneers and a proud example of what Americans can do when they put their minds to it?
Even if you consider the National Air and Space Museum to be a repository of artifacts of a greed-addled corporatist state, trying to occupy the museum is a stupid political decision. I’ll wager that every tourist who was inconvenienced by the clash of the protesters with the museum security people is furious at the protesters. If you’ve traveled to D.C. to take your excited 10-year-old to the Air and Space Museum to see the Spirit of St. Louis or touch the moon rock and the antics of a band of protesters has left you with a disappointed child on your hands, you’re not going to be likely to support the “Occupy D.C.” cause.