Bring it on home, right-wing!

by J.A. Myerson

When thousands of activists all around the country gather to try to do what Dr. King liked to call “speed up that day” when public sentiment will become so strong as to dismantle the system by which corporate money dominates what is supposed to be a democratic government, let it be known: the supposedly libertarian, anti-corporatist right wing press denigrated us.

David Fredoso’s snide article today will stop at nothing to degrade and dismiss the people who are so passionate about democracy, freedom and justice that many have given up their lives to protest in an imaginative and powerful way the greed and corruption that oppresses Americans.

“Dear protesters in New York City,” Fredoso starts out, “You are not 99 percent ofAmerica.” This is a reference to the protest’s contention that the dichotomy that matters isn’t left versus right or white versus Arab or gay versus straight or immigrant versus native but the 1% who pull the levers of American political-economic power and the 99% who do not. Fredoso elects deliberately to misunderstand this assertion. “If 99 percent of Americans actually sympathized with your cause, the entire nation’s economy would have collapsed long ago.”

Credit where it’s due: at least Fredoso doesn’t pretend, as many in the press have decided to, that we haven’t got a cause. Instead, he pretends we haven’t got a point. The 99% are not the people sympathizing with us. Our chant’s entire implication is that we have the backs even of those people who disagree. Unemployed conservatives have as tough a time getting jobs as unemployed progressives. Republican teachers are as vulnerable in the current budget-cut-mania as Democratic firefighters. Tea party sympathizers are shut out of the political system and denied efficacy to extricate government from the grip of a wealthy class intent on getting wealthier no matter the human cost just as much as Code Pink activists. Perhaps proclamations from Van Jones, who is partial to Fredoso’s binary, of solidarity with our movement has colored that message, but that is not our fault.

Now, I know Fredoso is smart. I have even argued with him at some length on Twitter about the intersection of science and ethics in the fields of reproductive rights and the climate crisis – this is not dummy stuff. So I’m sure he understands this contention. Why, therefore, he and his colleagues at The Washington Examiner, my favorite conservative publication (I even Like it on facebook, for crying out loud) should militate so hard against seeming to is a mystery.

Tim Carney, also of that outfit, brought up a great point, when he tweeted, “seriously? Charlie Rangel, a TARP supporter and recipient of Goldman Sachs PAC money, spoke at “occupy Wall Street”? Embarassing.” But it’s clear that the embarrassment he had in mind was the protesters’.

Perhaps he doesn’t know that, when Rep. Rangel mugged for the cameras, one angry protester actually chased him out, shouting and attempting to bumrush him. Did the rest of the denizens ofLibertyPlazaParktake Charlie Rangel’s side or the angry young man’s? Neither – it stuck to its principles, breaking out in chants of “This is a peaceful march!” during which both the shit-disturber and the congressman left the rally.

Perhaps he doesn’t know that the protesters do not invite politicians to speak at the square, and that whenever a celebrity shows up, there is considerable energy against granting him or her (more often him, if we’re being honest) special exposure. We are, after all, an exercise in direct democracy, a fact neither Fredoso nor Carney mentions.

Perhaps he doesn’t know that a resolution that has been gaining support aroundLibertyPlazaParkholds, “We believe that corporate money should not be allowed to influence democracy. Therefore, the General Assembly will not accept donations, financial or otherwise, from corporations. Furthermore, we will not allow corporate advertising to be placed on websites affiliated with our occupation. We will resist efforts by corporations to co-opt our movement towards real democracy in America.”

Fredoso and Carney’s preferred anti-corporatist venture, the Tea Party, does not entertain such measures, happily accepting donations from corporate front groups before whom even Carney is happy to speak. It’s an odd world when anti-corporatists will defend the Koch brothers over passionate grassroots activists. It’s equally odd when an anti-statist like Carney, who has often defended the rights of citizens to film police activity, would rather condemn the left’s fickleness than police brutality. This is just more division-sewing. As the Wall Street occupation routinely makes clear, this is not about cops. The NYPD too are the 99%. Indeed, so are the members of the Tea Party.

One criticism both Carney and Fredoso share is the inevitability, as they see it, that the Wall Street occupiers will turn out for Obama in 2011. Says Fredoso:

“You can take some consolation from that next year when you sacrifice your principles, abandon the Global People’s Liberation Party (or whatever), and vote to re-elect President Obama.”

Neither of them cites a single reason to believe that this is true, but I can report (as a reporter who goes places and seeks facts and then reports them) that I have not seen a single Obama sign in the dozens of hours I have spent with the occupation. I have seldom heard a kind word extended to Democrats. What the people are protesting downtown is a system, as all of its statements and activities indicate, and not a party or a political persuasion (there are Ron Paul supporters down there, Mr. Carney, and Ron Paul penned the forward to your book!) – why does the Examiner refuse to get this straight?

On September 13th, while spending some time on the Examiner’s website, I caught a glimpse of its Featured Writers photograph. There they were: six white men, looking at me. None of these things, I snarked, is not like the others. Yes, I can be rude on Twitter. But I’m happy to rise above it. After all, those six white men are also the 99%, and I want to extend an olive branch to them.

Dear Washington Examiner writers: please come to Liberty Plaza Park. I’ll give you a tour. I’ll get you some grub. If you didn’t dress warmly enough, I’ll get you some sweatshirts. Lead teach-ins on regulatory capture and the perils of crony capitalism; there is no one better for that job. See if the working men and women (or the men and women who cannot find work) living at Liberty Plaza Park are really the idiots and charlatans you portray them as. If you’re extra nice to me, I’ll even sing you the first verse of Sam Cooke’s “Bring it on Home to me.”

“If you ever

Change your mind

About leaving

Leaving me behind

Bring it to me

Bring your sweet loving

Bring it on home to me.”

 

Did you know that was a young Lou Rawls on background vocals?