Reading your letters to the editor on Oct. 19 regarding the Occupy protests left me deeply disturbed. There seems to be some fundamental misunderstanding on the part of many Mainers as to what the purpose of “occupying” rather than “protesting” really is.

It is important to note that this movement is not new — we’ve seen it at the G8 Summit in Washington and around the world at major financial summits and conferences. But summits end, and so do protests, while Wall Street bankers and the politicians they bankroll continue to twist the free market system and pass legislation that makes it easier for them to make profits based on the suffering of others, here and abroad.

So why occupy? To force the American people to stop pretending that the system isn’t stacked against the middle class. To force us to stop blaming each other and instead to understand that it is the system that is broken, not one person or one group. The occupation of Wall Street is not a tirade against Wall Street bankers, college loans or a crumbling economy. It is an outcry against a system in which those who work hard and play by the rules are ultimately taken advantage of by those who have enough money and political power to change the rules to suit their liking.

The occupation is about changing the system. Unfortunately for them (and us), it seems as though many of your readers find a concentrated effort to address economic injustice and work toward a more open American democracy really annoying.

It’s fine if you don’t agree with the protesters, if you think that Wall Street CEOs are entitled to their huge bonuses made with taxpayer money, but show some respect and stop referring to the protesters as “whiners.”

Emma Connor

Portland

The following are opinions that I have encountered while discussing the Occupy Wall Street protests among peers. These opinions are echoes of beliefs that have been aggressively proliferated by mainstream American media corporations. Each statement is followed immediately by my own rebuttal.

“Occupy Wall Street is too unfocused. They don’t have any clear goals. Everyone is there for different reasons.”

There are indeed a variety of reasons for becoming involved in the Occupy movement. Among protesters one can very easily find representatives of nearly every political and religious belief system. However, despite a lack of cohesion concerning specific political issues, the protesters are united by one common goal: To restore democracy in America and worldwide by limiting the power that wealthy individuals and corporations have over government.

“They are never going to accomplish anything by just standing around and complaining. If they really want change, they should go vote; that’s how America works.”

The right to protest (i.e. stand around and complain) is protected under the Bill of Rights in the U.S. Constitution (Right to Assembly), and for good reason. Whenever democracy ceases to provide solutions to major social and political problems, it is the duty of all citizens to gather together and make change, despite the inadequacies of their government.

Many of the most significant changes undergone by American society were accomplished not by politicians, but by popular movements. Examples of this phenomenon include, but are not limited to, the American Revolution, the abolition of slavery, suffrage, the civil rights movement and the establishment of the Environmental Protection Agency.

Indeed, and few people standing around and complaining are unlikely to accomplish anything. However, a few million or billion people, united under one common goal, is a force which is almost guaranteed to change the world.

Joshua Trombley

Orono

Letter writer wrong about Obama’s war record

It is difficult to understand why the editors of the Portland Press Herald would print a letter to the editor like the one from James Waterhouse of Saco, which contains not one single true statement about President Obama’s “escalating military actions around the world” (0ct. 20).

The facts are, as the editors of this paper well know, that (1) President Obama sent no troops into Libya whatsoever and persuaded our European allies to cooperate in creating a no-fly zone resulting in a new potentially Democratic Libya; (2) the Obama administration will have no more than 1,000 troops (to protect our embassy) in Iraq by the end of this year, thus ending the ill-advised and very expensive, in terms of lives and money, war created by the Bush administration; and (3) the president has committed to reducing our troop levels in Afghanistan to zero by 2014, a war which was also created by the Bush administration.

F. Kingston Berlew

Topsham

Either anti-government or for the Constitution, not both

Some presidential candidates speak of “getting government out of the way.” Does that mean getting the U.S. Constitution “out of the way?” The Constitution is by definition pre-eminently “government.”

At the recent Republican debates I recall no discussion by the candidates of the Constitutions’s various articles, sections or amendments. These are people who while ostensibly proclaiming their qualifications to govern must, if elected president, take a solemn oath to “preserve, protect and defend” the Constitution of the United States they ignored in the debates. Go figure!

Lee Kemble

Portland