Debra Saunders from the San Francisco Chronicle has an excellent opinion piece at SFGate today on the subject of the increasingly violent Occupy Wall Street protests in Oakland. In it she takes on the naive assumption that the more violent rhetoric coming from the movement is that of a fringe minority hijacking the good-natured intentions of the majority.
The morning after Occupy Oakland’s midweek violent protests, the take in the Bay Area was that it was a dirty, rotten shame that a few bad-egg anarchists hijacked a mostly peaceful protest and made an otherwise good cause look bad.
That is so delusional.
From the start, troublemakers have advocated violent protest during the group’s general assemblies. Guys with masks and ill intent threw rocks and bottles at police before officers used tear gas – and Iraq vet Scott Olsen, 24, sadly was injured – to clear Frank Ogawa Plaza on Oct. 25. They were armed with incendiary devices when the sun went down on Nov. 2.
Councilman Ignacio De La Fuente is sick of hearing about how peaceful the majority of protesters were. “The reason the minority’s here,” he sputtered, is because “the majority’s here.”
The majority of Occupiers aren’t victims, they’re enablers.
This is a valid assessment when one considers the lack of distance the “main group” (if there even is one) and the movement’s supporters is keeping from the radical groups who have associated themselves to the cause. While I am not a Tea Party supporter by any means, one does not have to look very hard to find hundreds of stories about racism (real and imagined) and homegrown terrorism published by the media. The Tea Party and its supporters were forced by the media to answer these charges (again, some real, some imaginary) and denounce the fringe factions lest the entire movement be labeled as supportive of that behavior. They did, repeatedly. But no matter, the media pushed that narrative anyway.
This is not happening here. Anarchist groups, antisemitic groups and revolutionary groups are making real threats and doing real damage to cities like Oakland, and we are told that this is “what democracy looks like.” Compare that to the fervor with which the blogosphere and the media attacked peaceful Tea Party protests, at which there was no destruction of property, no tear gas and no promises to shut down commercial centers. Organizers are not being asked if they will remove the anarchists from their camps, and they are not asking for apologies for the hateful language on the signs and placards adorning the protest sites. And because of this the residents of Oakland will have to watch as all of the progress made in their city is torn down by a media and politically enabled mob.
Oakland’s former Mayor (and now governor) Jerry Brown devoted his tenure to enticing 10,000 new residents to live downtown. Mayor Jean Quan has undone that good work: Who wants to buy a condo in the land of broken windows?
Oakland has thriving, top-rated restaurants. Who wants to dine out in a town littered with too much graffiti and too little police protection?
These demonstrations threaten to starve the goose that pays for precious city services.
It is high time that the public be allowed to see these protests for what they truly are. A cause that may have been noble at one point, but was organized by the unready and unprepared. A cause which benefitted from high-profile political support from a party that badly needed a message to rally around. But the lack of organization allowed well-financed groups with their own agendas to come in and co-opt the movement for their own ends. Exactly like the Tea Party.
But where the two groups differ is that the OWS movement has actually become all of the things that the media and the left insisted that the Tea Party either was or could be. There are extreme, hateful elements. There are bigots and racists. There are anarchists and revolutionaries. But instead of questioning the motives of the movement, and the politicians who support it (the President included) for allowing these groups to share space with them, the media continues to treat the movement with kid gloves. The manner in which these two groups have been covered is a perfect example of the media bias that so many on the left like to pretend doesn’t exist.