UPDATE: Did I say the right fears OWS? Don’t take my word for it. Consider this.
Text and photography by Fred Gates
Madam, how like you this play?
The lady doth protest too much, methinks.
You have heard this all before: Occupy Wall Street is a dangerous group of unwashed hippies who has tricked the media into following them without a clear message or demands— and while the right may concede it might be “well intentioned,” an unchecked expansion of the movement can only pit Americans against each other and devolve into violence.
One month into Occupy Wall Street, these attacks have proven absolutely empty. The right does have good reason to fear OWS, however. What they fear is that the thin veil of confusion about the institutions and individuals responsible for the current economy is pulled away; and they are revealed to be responsible: not only for the policies and practices that got us into this mess, but also for perpetuating the same by convincing middle class voters to ignore their own interests.
Like a bad poker player, the right has given away its hand by refusing to engage in a debate over the issues.
Instead they have filled the airways and the blogosphere with hysteria about the supposed dangers of the movement and their petty grumblings that the protestors “need a shower” (Fox and Friends), represent only the most extreme fringes of the left, and even tolerate a climate of anti-Semitism.
Of course in our current media culture there are ample images that can be used to support these arguments: the core protestors actually living in Zuccotti Park are, for the most part, younger and more likely to skew far left— but their popular support tends to stay close to 55% among ALL Americans (depending on poll), which is a force the right cannot even begin to mess with. Instead they focus on finding OWS members with extreme tatoos and confused rhetoric.
The desperate attempts by the right to declare the movement irrelevant are so laughably tied to their own interests (and survival), that Forbes actually presented one of the founders of the Tea Party as its commentator on how OWS is nothing like the Tea Party. Gee, the CEO of an astroturf group key in promoting the Tea Party thinks OWS doesn’t rate? Who would take this “viewpoint” as anything but self-serving?
Meanwhile, house-arrested “filmmaker” James O’Keefe has gone deep cover to reveal the secret violence at the heart of Occupy Wall Street. His scoop? That on an OWS message board a NYU professor advocated his assault! The proof? A throwaway joke about how someone might want to “pull his pants down.” You read that correctly: O’Keefe takes a joke about “pantsing” to his converted and claims that he is a target of OWS’s “violence.”
The simple fact is that Occupy Wall Street has wide support among Americans.
This couldn’t have happened if it was violent or represented views far outside the mainstream. The uncomfortable truth for the right is that a few “hippies” DID declare the emperor naked— and were NOT ignored. The power of this to upset the political grip of the right cannot be overestimated – it is precisely by hiding their true objectives behind wedge-issue culture wars while demonizing their critics as anti-American losers that they have been able to convince a large portion of the middle class to vote against their own best interests. This charade has been stripped bare by OWS.
They are far more terrified of this truth-telling than any dirty “mob;” and their relentless attacks on Occupy Wall Street show this all too clearly.
(more of my protest photographs can be seen here.)