Yesterday morning, I sauntered into Madison Square Park before many others had arrived. The “Free University” was still setting itself up, and it was a forlorn sight. Lonely red balloons flew at various points around the fountains, and bored policemen sat on benches looking bemused and coordinating their patrols with the Park Service. Dotted around the place were “professors” without students, waiting expectantly under signs that read “Open-Access Teach-In” and “Free Yoga,” and trying to catch the eyes of unimpressed commuters in the hope that they might stop and engage. (Students, it appears, will be no earlier to the revolution than they are to their classes.) One man with some sports equipment — presumably the “(Meta-)Physical Education” teacher — stood in the rain waiting in vain for takers. But on the north side of the park, next to the statue of David Glasgow Farragut, a circle had formed — what seemed to be a roundtable on climate change. I wandered over and stood quietly on its edge.
“Naomi Klein went to the Heartland Institute’s International Conference on Climate Change,” the speaker was saying, “which must have been an unpleasant experience.” (Snickers greeted this addition.) “And what she discovered was that the conservatives get it. She wrote about it in The Nation.” He picked up a piece of paper and read aloud: “Here’s what she said they think:
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