|May 17, 2012||The Occupy Movement Revisited||14 comments|
|May 10, 2012||Cornering the Radicals||2 comments|
|April 23, 2012||The Modern Lynch Mob||3 comments|
|April 06, 2012||Reverse Profiling||3 comments|
|November 28, 2011||A Duty to Be Injured||1 comments|
|November 25, 2011||Moralists on Parade||no comments|
|November 21, 2011||Are the Wall Street Occupiers Protestors?||1 comments|
I may be beating a dead horse into the ground, but I cannot help myself. The Occupy Wall Street movement is so emblematic of what has gone wrong with leftist politics, that it furnishes the perfect example of its defects. Therefore let me proceed.
Liberals and their more radical allies are fond of portraying themselves as reformers. They tell us that their goal is to correct what is broken in our country so that it can march forward toward its predestined greatness.
This is what they say, but it is not what they believe. Contrary to their expressed attitudes, these folks do not love the United States. They do not want to build it up, but tear it down.
Nancy Pelosi and Barack Obama tell us that the Occupy activists are idealists. They thereby imply that their ideals are consistent with the ideals of most Americas. In fact, they are not. The moving lights behind these agitators are a combination of neo-Marxists and anarchists.
How do I know that this is what the Occupy people believe? The answer is simple: they say so. They have also been acting more in accord with these underlying convictions.
For some time, the occupiers have sought to paralyze our financial institutions. They have physically interceded to stop the foreclosures of homes in default and have turned some central cities into war zones. Now some have actually plotted to blow up bridges carrying civilian traffic.
The point of this semi-terrorism is to bring our economic system crashing to the ground. Anarchists believe this is necessary because they regard business as an oppressive agent of the elite. They consequently assume that if they can destroy its infrastructure, it will no longer be able to hold people in bondage.
Their allies, the neo-Marxists, agree because they too perceive capitalists, and the marketplace they dominate, as the enemy. It might be imagined that anarchists would strike out at government as fundamentally unnecessary, whereas liberals would regard it as the protector of the people, but this ignores the bedrock beliefs of the neo-Marxists.
Radicals of every stripe hate those in power—except when they themselves are in power. They therefore hate the government when they perceive it as controlled by bloated capitalists. When, however, their friends—the left wing Democrats—are in charge, they seek governmental aid in destroying the assets of the wealthy.
The bottom line is that both the anarchists and the neo-Marxists expect the government to wither away on its own. If they can first undermine the market system, then the government will no longer be necessary to reign in the excesses of the commercial elite. When that happens, it will simply fade to nothingness. And once that occurs, their shared goal of total personal freedom will have been realized.
So you see the first step is obliterating our current institutions. This is not reform: it is revolution. The people on the street understand this. I assume that the left-wing politicians in Washington understand this—and, in their heart of hearts, approve. Leftists love power, but in their imaginations they too harbor extreme idealistic fantasies.
The question is consequently: Do ordinary Americans understand this? Do they realize that those “children” out on the street would tear down everything they have built—if they could? And if they do, do they really want to be indulgent and pretend that this is an ordinary case of democracy in action?
If it squeals like a stuck pig, there’s a good chance it’s a stuck pig.
Over the years I have grown accustomed to being called names. As readers of the MDJ will know, I have strong opinions that I forcefully express. Consequently, I invite criticism. Furthermore, as an academic, I am a conservative in a very liberal environment; hence I am surrounded by people who look askance at my views.
My usual response to censure is therefore to let it roll off my back. Trying to refute it would give it credence it rarely deserves. But recently I have been attacked in a manner that requires a rejoinder. Accusations hurled at me have been so over the top that they have ignited a firestorm of charge and counter-charge.
I do not, however, intend to address the allegations point by point. Suffice it to say that they lack substance. Instead, I plan to put these accusations into context. Those who have read the slanders precipitated by my most recent MDJ column will surely recognize that the accusers are political radicals.
And that is the point. In exposing some of the nonsense emanating from the Occupy Wall Street crowd, I have backed them into a corner. The comeback has thus been desperation. Instead of reasoned analysis, we get wild vituperation.
The explanation is simple. These radicals are peddling a brand of “reform” that is not selling very well. As self-styled revolutionaries and/or anarchists, they hope to undermine our financial system, and with it our entire society. From their perspective, theUnited Statesrepresents a fossilized despotism that deserves to be overthrown.
These folks simply don’t like us. They tell us they want to improve our way of life, but offer nothing save for shortsighted destruction. And bet on it, this summer they will be out in force, up to their familiar shenanigans. If they have anything to say about it, there will be more marches, more obstruction, and more accusations of injustice.
Some activists on the left believe that these methods push their agenda forward, but they are wrong. A majority of Americans are offended by the empty-headedness of the Occupy folk’s language and their unhygienic demonstrations. While most people appreciate idealism, they do not condone pointless disruption.
The Occupy activists are tone deaf with regard to their impact. They assume that the more they agitate, the better “educated” the public will become. This being so, they resent someone like me who steps forward to burst their bubble. As a result, they turn their ire on me as a stand-in for the market-oriented institutions they despise.
I, of course, am small potatoes. Discrediting me is merely symbolic. But then again, I need to be intimidated into silence, lest someone be corrupted by my arguments. Furthermore, because I have obviously questioned their credibility for the sake of the prestige that attacking them offers, my reputation must be destroyed in order to balance the books.
The problem is that I am too set in my ways to let the disdain of a few radicals alter my course. I know that not everyone agrees with me, but a genuine marketplace of ideas requires that even the views of conservatives can be vigorously defended.
Melvyn L. Fein, Ph.D.
Professor of Sociology
Today we are treated to the spectacle of black-on-white vigilantism. The Trayvon Martin affair just keeps on going. Whatever the facts of the case, there can be no doubt that George Zimmerman’s life is currently in jeopardy. Already having been convicted by forces presumably seeking racial justice, he had to wear a bulletproof vest to court for safety’s sake.
Those who are demanding that Trayvon receive justice have no intension of waiting to see what a trial reveals. For one thing, they were outraged when the target of their wrath was granted a modest bail. For another, they jumped to the conclusion that Zimmerman lied when they could not see the wound he said was on his head.
When a later photograph revealed that the supposed blood was there after all, no apology was forthcoming. Nor were repeated slurs on Zimmerman’s character ever retracted.
It is clear that in some quarters the only form justice can take is a death for a death. Threats to the assailant’s—not to say murderer’s—life have already been issued. Nor has the justice department seen fit to arrest those making these promises. Because most are black, they are allowed a free pass.
The good news is that some public figures, both black and white, have noticed this imbalance and denounced it. They have gone so far as to condemn it as a form of reverse racism—which it obviously is. The bad news is that the demands of a bloodthirsty mob seem to be influencing public policy. People wondered whether Zimmerman would be indicted for shooting Martin, then when he was, they wondered how the indictment would be framed.
By most accounts, the formal allegations leveled at Zimmerman turned out to be thin gruel. The prosecution may have more evidence than what it has revealed, but so far what has been made public would not suffice for legal action were it not for the fact that a ravenous mob must be placated.
But I ask myself, just when did lynching become socially acceptable? And how do people who said they were merely seeking justice square their ferocity with the evenhandedness of genuine justice?
If justice is to prevail, even those addicted to political correctness must be prepared to defend the rights of those they loath.
This was supposed to be the era of post-racism. Yet it is anything but! An unfortunate racial incident occurred in Florida, and the nation is in an uproar. Worse still, the long knives came out to punish almost anyone with the temerity to sport a white skin. Even after several weeks of accusations and counter-accusations, the incident refuses to go away.
Many of those who are most upset about the shooting of Trayvon Martin, claim the problem is that profiling is still with us. They tell us that George Zimmerman killed this 17-year-old because he fit an outmoded stereotype. Had Trayvon not been black, or wearing a hoodie, he would not have been followed or murdered.
Nonetheless, these same accusers felt no compunction about tarring Zimmerman with the same brush they reserve for most whites. In other words, had Zimmerman not been white, he would not automatically have been judged a racist. Had he instead been black, his action would not have been national news and might not even have made the local news.
Zimmerman, in this sense, is the victim of reverse profiling. Had he been of a different color, he would have been judged differently. Had his father not been white, he might have been cut some slack given that he is still a young man in his twenties. He would surely not been called a liar when grainy videos did not at first reveal the injuries of which he complained.
Young black men wearing hoodies are, in fact, more closely associated with crime than are young white men or old Asian matrons. Of course, not all adolescent blacks are criminals, but they are deserving of greater scrutiny when observed in places they are not usually found. To do less would make potential victims unnecessarily vulnerable.
This was not Trayvon's fault. He drew attention, not because of something he did, but because of the high rate of crime associated with young black men. This is a fact that will not go away by denying it.
I am an older Jewish man who is also an ex-New Yorker and a sociologist. The odds are that I would be a liberal. As a consequence, strangers frequently make this mistake. But they are wrong — I am a conservative.
Should I, as a result, get bent out of shape when people make this error? Or should I realize why they are making it, and take it in stride? Furthermore, if this is true for me, why doesn't it apply to others?
What I found especially galling about the Martin affair were many of the responses to it. Several in particular aroused my ire. The first was the media's need to label Zimmerman white. Whereas in other circumstances he might have been identified as Hispanic, the goal was clearly to portray all whites as consistently racist. This even extended to showing a nasty picture of Zimmerman along side a flattering one of a younger Trayvon.
So potent was the impulse to portray whites as victimizers that NBC intentionally distorted the 911 tapes to make Zimmerman sound racist. When caught in this deception there was little regret — except, of course, that the station got outed. The network officials later dismissed this as a production error, but this was a lame excuse.
A final issue that distressed me was the reaction to the Black Panthers. These activists made a special trip to Florida not only to express support for the Martin family, but to threaten Zimmerman with harm. Irrespective of the facts, they were going to have their pound of flesh. (As was Spike Lee in his vicious publication of Zimmerman's putative address.)
Few found the Panther efforts at intimidation edifying, but neither were they grossly outraged. Most people, including reporters, treated their antics as a sideshow. Nonetheless, what they said was terrifying. They talked about vigilantism as if this were still the Wild West. They made it plain that they would be the judges and executioners no matter what the law said — even though this was precisely the sin of which Zimmerman was accused.
Isn't this as shameful as what Zimmerman is alleged to have done? Doesn't it too imply irresponsible violence? And what of the professional agitators such as Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton? Shouldn't we be offended by their continued efforts to stir up racial animosity?Racism is a dreadful transgression. But so is reverse racism. Shouldn't they both be consigned to an unmourned place in history?
My brother was outraged. A thoroughly decent human being, and a deeply committed liberal, he was appalled by what he considered the unethical behavior of the police in breaking up a student demonstration on the UC Davis campus. He was particularly distressed by the casual use of pepper spray on these non-violent protestors.
According to Joel, nonchalantly showering people with a harmful chemical, when they were doing nothing but sitting down, is an act of atrocious cruelty. The authorities ought simply have carried them away.
Many observers undoubtedly share these sentiments. After all, we are supposed to be a rational and humane society. How then can we treat our own young people so heartlessly?
Well, I’ll tell you how. These student protestors were not merely protestors. Nor were they simply children. They were young adults who knew precisely what they were doing. And what they were doing was engaging in a provocation. They fully intended to force the police to over-react so that the authorities would be condemned as the bad guys.
The whole point of sitting where they did was to close down the campus; much as other Wall Street Occupiers would have enjoyed shutting down our economy, if they could. As such, their action could not be tolerated. The question was therefore what to do to prevent them from being successful.
Joel would have had the police physically haul them out of the pathway. But what would that have entailed? Would the “protestors” have simply left without resisting? Perhaps. But then again maybe not. As many before them have done, they might have kicked and lashed out at those who dared to touch them.
So what should the police have done? Was it their duty to allow themselves to be injured by these lawbreakers? Should they have used pepper spray only after one of them had received a broken leg or a black eye?
Isn’t it amazing! (Oops, my Andy Rooney persona is showing again.) Why do some people insist on riding their own personal hobbyhorses whenever a tragedy occurs? All of us sudden, they feel compelled to douse us with a bucketful of self-righteousness—in the name of reasoned analysis.
We have just been treated to this sort of moralistic posturing with regard to the Penn State/Sandusky scandal. Pedophilia is a tragic, nasty business. People have every right—indeed a duty—to be outraged when it is discovered. But then some people redirect their indignation in inappropriate directions.
Among the responses to this disgrace have been predictable calls to either eliminate or reduce the attention paid to football. Decried as a shockingly violent sport, its critics tell us that it is time to put the genie back in its bottle.
Meanwhile the media cover these howls of indignation because they are newsworthy and because they are controversial. I do not object to this, so much as the seriousness with which these denunciations are greeted.
What if Sandusky was a tollbooth operator? Would we demand that the toll highways be closed down? This may seem like a silly analogy, both so is the proposition that there is a necessary connection between football and pedophilia.
Football, if we prize it, should stand and fall on its own merits, not on guilt by spurious association. Nor shouldPennStatebe made a scapegoat for the actions of one of its former employees. The school itself is far larger than one flawed individual.
And as to Joe Paterno, it is only the tragedy of a diagnosis of lung cancer that has kept the accusations within bounds. I was, therefore, pleased to hear Franco Harris come to his one-time coach’s defense. He rightly argued that Paterno had not ignored the offense; he had merely kicked it upstairs where it belonged.
It is easy to be holier-than-thou. As long as one has not been tested by similar events, one can assume that one would surely have done the right thing. Hence let us condemn the offender—not everyone or everything remotely connected to him.
When the British government decided to tax the American colonists to pay for the French and Indian War, the colonists were distraught. They immediately protested what they regarded as taxation without representation. They wanted the king and his ministers to understand that this was intolerable.
At first the colonists used time worn channels to make their views known. They petitioned the king’s representatives and sent emissaries to London to argue their case. But eventually, after they got no action, they became insurrectionists. Some literally threw tea into Boston harbor to make their point.
In the end, of course, they engaged in full-scale warfare. By that time, however, the goal was independence, not reform.
Today we see the Wall Street occupiers referring to themselves as protestors. But are they? Or have they too turned into insurrectionists and/or revolutionaries?
The modern tea party movement is very much in the protest mode. Its adherents began by attending political town hall meetings to make their grievances known. Then they held rallies to voice their objectives. More recently, they have focused on electing representatives favorable to their cause.
All of this is normal political activity. It entails operating within the system to influence the decisions of the legitimate government. But what of the Wall Street crowd. Are they merely sending messages? Or do they intend to tear down our society and substitute something else?
By their own admission the Occupiers hope to destroy capitalism. They regard our economic institutions, not our political ones, as unacceptable. To this end, they have sought to disrupt the operations of the stock market, banks, and even the port of Oakland. This might be described as a protest, but it is much more.
Yes, the Occupiers want to be heard. Yes, they want people in power to listen to their message and be influenced by it. Indeed, if this entails being so outrageous that they cannot be ignored, they are prepared to riot and even to defecate in the streets.
Yet they hope to do more than be heard. They literally intend to intimidate people into submission. Essentially, they mean to undermine the system such that it can no longer function. In other words, they are well on their way toward an economic insurrection.
Mind you, they have no idea as to what would follow if they succeed. Sadly, their aspirations, such as they are, are a romantic hodge-podge of impractical dreams.
Nonetheless, they are out in the streets and on the march to storm the private homes of their enemies. Plainly, this sort of behavior must not be confused with free speech. It is not about protesting. To the contrary, it has passed over the line into proto-rebellion.
No, this is not full-scale revolution. But if they thought they could get away with it, this is what many of the Occupiers would seek.