In a panel discussion on today's Now with Alex Wagner about what "moral authority," if any, that the Occupy Wall Street movement has, MSNBC contributor Melissa Harris-Perry sought to defuse fellow panelist Meghan McCain's complaint that Occupy Wall Street has hurt the very folks it claims to represent by killing jobs at businesses nearby Zuccotti Park.
"If a Tea Party rally had shut down a business that had to let go of 21 workers, there would probably be a different reaction from a lot of people in the media," McCain observed.
Harris-Perry initially dismissed McCain's comment by noting the "deeply polarized media system," where conservatives and liberals gravitate to different news sources based on ideology. But a few minutes later the Tulane professor groused that we as a society don't view budget-related layoffs of public sector workers through a moral prism (emphases mine):
[W]e have to be able to talk about public and structural and political morality as well as private and personal and individual morality and accountability.
So, for example, on this question of shutting down businesses, let's look at the number of government layoffs that Republican and GOP new governors have affected in the context of this economic downturn, right. And we don't call that, we don't look at that and say, "Those unethical governors," that's economic policy.
So, so, all I would suggest is I think we have to have not only a narrative about who we are privately, but also the ethical and moral standards that ought to apply to how we do business, how we do our work together.