Ken Ford, my grandfather (read his books!), emails:
David Brooks is dismissing Occupy Wall Street as meaningless, or even harmful, but I see it as a reflection of a pretty widespread dissatisfaction — in truth not just with Wall Street, but with America’s power structure and the pervasive role of money in controlling government and society. When the anti-Vietnam-War protests started around 1964-65, they were dismissed, too, as small, misguided, and meaningless. A blip on the radar that would soon blow over.
Of course, they represented something deeper. They grew, became mainstream, did in Lyndon Johnson, and turned into a much broader current of revolution on behalf of women’s rights and minority rights. The “Vietnam era” was a watershed of the 20th century. One can’t help wondering if we might now be on the cusp of something similar, perhaps focused on the rights of the powerless.
I’m actually quite surprised I haven’t read anything to date about this connection between the early stages of Vietnam protests and OWS. As Brad DeLong would say: Why Oh Why can’t we have a better press corps?