- There is, of course, a major strain of thought that connects the Occupy Wall Street crowd and the Tea Party. Though largely representing opposing sides of the political spectrum, they each have at their core an aversion to corporatism–not necessarily corporations themselves (any OWS protestor who says otherwise is likely a hypocrite), but the political culture of favors, bailouts, pork deals, corporate welfare, etc. I’d like to see more of a conversation building on this common ground.
- The biggest superficial difference between the two movements seems to be the penchant for violent rhetoric among OWS. I’m not aware of any actual instances of violence, verbal or otherwise, at tea party rallies, but umpteen such cases have been recorded and broadcasted at OWS protests. Despite the reputation that the tea party has been stereotyped with in much of the mainstream media as being full of racists and militia-types, one must remember how many would-be infiltrators have been caught and exposed as purposely trying to create that impression (remember the Oregon middle school teacher who foolishly admitted online that he was planning one such act). I don’t know if OWS has any similar problem, but certainly I haven’t heard of any, and no rowdy hooligans at these rallies seem to be getting alienated by the rest of the crowd, as they were at Tea Party rallies. Pictures like these, including one of an OWS protester defecating on a police car (warning: graphic), appear pretty authentic, unfortunately. Those who are complaining about all the arrests accompanying OWS protests might do well to admit that some of these protesters simply aren’t living up to the non-violent heritage of civil disobedience.
- Notice the difference in rhetorical tones, also. The Tea Party, obviously, styles itself after the American Revolution (just look at the name). Occupy Wall Street, however, doesn’t seem to have the same roots. More and more reports I’ve seen of it show leaders and speakers making direct reference to the French Revolution, which was far more directly about violent class warfare than the American Revolution (again, just look at the name–“occupy” certainly has an aggressive insinuation to it). Here’s an example of an Occupy Los Angeles speaker calling for violent revolution, overtly akin to the French. (TheGatewayPundit.com is doing a great job of chronicling the excesses of Occupy Wall Street.)
- Once again, I’m struck by how prescient the predictions of some conservative pessimists are being proven to be. Mark Steyn, for example, has been saying for the last two years that the violent economic riots in places like Greece, France, and England would start in America within a year or two. Is this the beginning of that? It certainly seems likely. (Steyn made these predictions in articles like this one and especially this one, both from around a year and a half ago.)
- Speaking of the brilliant Mr. Steyn, here’s something he recently wrote after Van Jones started calling Occupy Wall Street the “American Autumn”:
In case you don’t get it, that’s the American version of the “Arab Spring.” Steve Jobs might have advised Van Jones he has a branding problem. Spring is the season of new life, young buds and so forth. Autumn is leaves turning brown and fluttering to the ground in a big dead heap. Even in my great state of New Hampshire, where autumn is pretty darn impressive, we understand what that blaze of red and orange leaves means: They burn brightest before they fall and die, and the world turns chill and bare and hard.
So Van Jones may be on to something!
- On a more neutral side, some conservative news outlets are hinting that the Occupy Wall Street movement is being financed by rich leftist no-good-niks, and people are even being bused in to staff the protests. Doesn’t it strike anyone else as odd that the exact same accusations were made against the Tea Party? That alone makes me suspicious. I wonder if this is something else they might have in common: even if there’s some truth to these allegations about shadowy elites being behind the scenes (and remember the corporate, mainstream farce that was the “Tea Party Express,” which tried to co-opt the brand after establishment figures were roundly rejected from all early tea parties?), both the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street are clearly grassroots, spontaneous movements started by everyday citizens who don’t feel that their voices are being heard by those who ostensibly represent them in government. Something else we can all build on–bipartisan disappointment!
- I worry about an emerging double standard in media coverage, though. I actually get more of my news from networks and NPR than from conservative sources, and from the start, Occupy Wall Street has been almost universally lauded by the press, even when it has been termagant. The Tea Party rarely enjoyed that benefit of the doubt. For example, when OWS was discussed on All Things Considered a couple of weeks ago, a guest expert said that it was only forming now because it takes at least several months for such movements to become public after they gestate, so OWS is largely a reaction to things like the debt ceiling debate earlier this year. That’s all fine and good, but does this mean that the media will now exonerate the Tea Party as legitimately a reaction to President Bush’s bailouts and not, as they consistently characterized, a backlash against the election of a black man as president?
- Though there’s no single list of official demands for OWS, this list is pretty representative of what I’ve heard, and the author’s astute takedown of its problems should be universally considered. Still, I think this Internet meme does a better job of deflating the logical difficulty of Occupy Wall Street better than any other I’ve seen so far: “Corporations control the government. Therefore, we need the government to save us from the corporations.”