Occupying the Rose Parade -- but tamely
Cornel West, the notable academic who is something of a touchstone for liberal causes, gave his blessing over the weekend to plans to Occupy the Rose Parade, according to the Pasadena Star-News. He won't be here for the event, and the Occupy movement certainly planned to go whether or not he spoke on the issue. In fact, it would have been a shocker if he had said, "No! Don't include a message about the poor in a day that gets this much TV viewership!"
Truth is, the Occupy movement is far from the most controversial thing to happen to the Rose Parade on either side of political equation. As my colleague Patt Morrison blogged last year, Vietnam War protests and demonstrations by anti-AIDS activists showed up in previous parades, and that was just the side action. In 1951, South Pasadena floated a depiction of a Democratic donkey leaving the back door of the White House while a Republican elephant arrived through the front. Lest anyone be confused about how the city viewed this turn of events, the float was titled, "A Rosy Dream."
In comparison with these and other Rose Parade moments, the Occupy the Rose Parade movement is looking to be downright tame. Occupy leaders say they will not disrupt the event, but rather place a banner beforehand at a spot favored by TV cameras, and do a display of a giant octopus to symbolize the choke hold of banks on the economy. Maybe the movement will get some coverage for that, maybe not.
In a way, a more visible movement would mar an event open to the 99%. Any locals with enough tolerance for waiting in the cold should get a shot to see the parade for free; why wreck it for them?
It's good to see Occupy leaders working amicably with the Pasadena police to have their say without disrupting the parade. But it's hard not to hear the whisper of some long-ago die-hard protest movement saying that there has to be some discomfort, some disruption, to create change.
Meek doesn't alienate people, but it isn't noticed all that often.
-- Karin Klein
Photo: A float drives down Colorado Boulevard during the 117th Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena in 2006. Credit: Lucas Jackson / Reuters