By Alan Pell Crawford
This is a “Senior Spring,” a retired history professor named Silvio Laccetti writes in Philly.com, describing “a flowering of creativity and participation among older Americans.” Senior citizens are having
a visible and valuable presence in the Occupy Wall Street movement. They are emerging from the isolation of senior-citizen communities, where their voices are muted and mingling with other age groups is nigh impossible. They’re making their presence known in a maelstrom of social action … They are occupying parks and marching in the streets. They are sharing a vast treasury of accumulated knowledge, wisdom, and experience.
Also, they’re old enough not to care very much if younger people approve of their antics or not.
The Occupy movement “seems especially well positioned to take advantage of this trend,” Laccetti says, “because of its leaderless structure, general assemblies open to any and all, and ability to inspire sympathetic splinter movements.”
All true and all good, with this slightly peevish reminder: The Tea Party movement is also leaderless, open to any and all, and able to inspire splinter groups. But coverage of the activities of its seniors seems never quite so giddy. Where the advanced age of Occupiers is cause for celebration (“Wild Old Women Breathe New Life into the Occupy Movement”), the oldsters on the political right get no such respect.
In fact, almost every story ever written about Tea Partiers points out how old they are, with the implication that they are out of touch, care only about themselves and, being retired, have nothing better to do with their time than complain.
Maybe one of the Wild Old Women, bristling at the somewhat condescending coverage her group receives, speaks for all senior activists. “We are not out to be cute,” she says. “We want to be taken seriously, because we are serious.” Hear, hear!