Why is it that some folks refuse to see the forest for the trees even when the forest is burning down right in front of them? The more information we get about the “Occupy Wall Street” movement(s), the more we see its radical and Marxist socialist nature. Who hasn’t heard of some awful reports of literal rock throwing, car burning, public urination and the worst offense, even rape? And these are “peaceful” gatherings? The so-called organizers can’t even control their own, much less any message. I agree with Michael Gerson that the OWS is “a leftist movement with a military wing” ascendant. And most notably, it is the derelict news media and liberal pols who have given credence to this monstrosity that has seemed the most desperate.
By Michael Gerson, Published: November 7
In Oakland, protesters have been playing at the Paris Commune — constructing barricades, setting fires, throwing concrete blocks and explosives, declaring a general strike to stop the “flow of capital” at the port. Here, OWS seems to be taking its cues from both “Rules for Radicals” and “A Clockwork Orange.”
Defenders of OWS dismiss this as the work of a few bad apples. But the transgressors would call themselves the vanguard. And they express, not betray, a significant ideological strain within the movement. Since the 1960s, some on the political left have sought liberal reform through the democratic process and nonviolent protest. Others have sought to hasten the crisis and collapse of fundamentally illegitimate social and economic systems. Both groups can be found within OWS, but the latter is ascendant.
OWS has, in fact, provoked a crisis of credibility for many American institutions. News coverage of the movement has been both disproportionate and fawning. The two encampments of Occupy DC, for example, have a couple of hundred inhabitants. If they moved to a nearby convention hotel, the group would probably be smaller than a meeting of the American Apparel and Footwear Association. During the Tea Party’s rise to national attention, the press scoured the country for any hint of rhetorical incitement to violence. OWS protesters smash windows, assault police officers and wear Guy Fawkes masks — a historical figure known for attempting to bomb the British Parliament.
City governments have also begun to look hapless for their accommodation of squalor, robberies, sexual attacks, drug use, vagrancy and vigilantism.
And what must Democratic leaders — who rushed to identify with a protean political force — now be thinking? OWS is not a seminar on income inequality — not the Center for American Progress on a camping trip. It is a leftist movement with a militant wing.
Will Americans, looking for jobs, turn in hope to the vandalization of small businesses and the promise of a general strike? Will citizens, disappointed by a dysfunctional government, be impressed by the endless arguments of anarchist collectives? Will people, disgusted by partisanship and rhetorical rock-throwing, be attracted to actual rock throwing?
This seems to be the desperate political calculation of the Democratic Party. Good luck with that.