You’d think it was the War of the Worlds. Orson Wells surprised everyone with that; but it’s no secret May Day is a big Occupy event. It’s not like it’s coming like a thief in the night, like Jesus. Everyone pretty much knows what to expect, right? May1stSeattle.org like other Occupy sites even gives you the full schedule of events, the where and the when. Nothing much to get excited about: most violent overthrows of the capitalist system don’t start with a “meet & greet.”
Well, unless you are part of the conservative economic power structure that is strangling the life’s blood out of working class Americans. Look, to use another example here, nobody is storming the Bastille. No government is being overthrown. These are working class people embracing their right of free speech to be heard in protest of policies and practices that are hurting them and all Americans.
Not that you’d know that from the reaction so far. And May Day! Seattle’s mayor is actually warning of possible violence. From World Net Daily’s typically hysterical portrayal of this you’d think the crowd would be carrying hammers and sickles and posters of Marx and Lenin on their way to a new October Revolution: “Mayor Warns Occupy May Day Could Turn Violent” WND proclaims.” We are told that the mayor of Seattle “has warned that protesters may use Tuesday’s Occupy May Day events to ‘commit violence, damage property and disrupt peaceful free speech activity.”
The thing is, the mayor isn’t talking about the Occupy protestors themselves but about “others” who may also attend the gathering. Not that you’d know that from the tone of the WND article.
Here is the mayor’s warning:
SEATTLE –On Tuesday, May 1, several organizations will be holding public demonstrations in Seattle. This will include an annual May Day March for Immigrant and Workers Rights from Judkins Park to downtown Seattle, an Occupy Seattle-sponsored General Strike, and rallies scheduled throughout the day at Westlake Park. The Seattle Department of Transportation advises that delays should be expected downtown during the Tuesday afternoon commute.
We also have evidence that other people may be coming to Seattle on Tuesday with the intention of using the public demonstrations as an opportunity to commit violence, damage property and disrupt peaceful free speech activity. There has been a significant increase in graffiti and posters alluding to violence around the May 1 events. Websites have described trainings in how to conceal weapons beneath signs and banners, and how to target police officers on horses. At a protest at the Port of Seattle in December 2011, several people used peaceful demonstrators as a shield to throw projectiles and incendiary devices at police officers.
Early Thursday morning an incendiary device was thrown at a bank in Columbia City. This was similar to an attack on a bank that took place in Portland late Wednesday night.
Seattle Police command staff and Mayor’s Office staff have been working with protest organizers, property owners, and other stakeholders to facilitate peaceful, constitutional demonstrations. Officers will respond appropriately to criminal acts and threats or harm directed against participants, non-participants, and property.
It’s important to note how this is phrased: “other people” – in addition to the “Occupy Seattle-sponsored General Strike.” WND takes issue with the MayDayNYC.org website, referring to it as a “call to arms.” Doesn’t that seem a bit over the top? There is no mention of guns, no appeal to “Second Amendment Rights” – that’s Tea Party stuff and I don’t recall WND ever warning people to look out for people who were actually both angry AND well-armed. If you look at – actually look at MayDayNYC.org, you see another list of events, like that in Seattle.
In their eagerness to prove nefarious purposes, WND won’t mention the events outlined for Bryant Park by MayDayNYC.org:
Yes, that sounds pretty “call to arm-ish” doesn’t it – “free food, skillshares, workshops” – ? That’s an unusual way for a violent overthrow to kick off, isn’t it?
Maybe we should start warning cities about all those businessmen and their weekend long gatherings. Sounds like they have a lot in common.
Getting back to the West Coast, in the Bay area, you would think they were burning Bibles: “The Bay Area schedule is replete with ‘anti-capitalist’ events such as an ‘anti-patriarchy’ protest and actions to protest ‘gentrification.’”
Is there any good reason to not protest these things – capitalism, patriarchy, gentrification? In any event, last I heard, we had our rights of free speech and we can protest pretty much any damn thing we please. I suppose it’s okay if you’re claiming the right to shoot people simply because you don’t like them, but how could anyone oppose patriarchy? That’s just sick!
Makes you wonder if the folks at WND even know what patriarchy is. According to Merriam-Webster: “a social organization marked by the supremacy of the father of the clan or family, the legal dependence of wives and children, and the reckoning of decent and inheritance in the male line; broadly: control by men of a disproportionately large share of power.”
Isn’t this simply the facts on the ground, whether in Hollywood or on Capitol Hill?
Then WND gets to the really juicy stuff: “‘Economic terrorist’ brains of Occupy plot?”
Occupy plot? What plot?
Oh, well it turns out “The plan to shut down the U.S. economy” is supposedly “reminiscent of plans first hatched in March 2010 by Stephen Lerner, a controversial anti-capitalist SEIU organizer. Lerner visited the Obama White House at least four times.”
Oh no! That nasty, sneaky Obama, whom the same WND continues to insist wasn’t born in Hawaii – and Obama’s joking about it the other day proves it! And of course, they’ll be selling books about it soon because “WND was first to report Lerner was the brain behind some of the economic protest templates being used by the Occupy Wall Street campaign.”
The thing is, it isn’t simply the fools at WND selling crap to other fools and it isn’t even really about the people who read what WND says and believe it as gospel. The problem goes far deeper than Joey Farah and his radical right-wing tabloid. The problem is a predatory capitalist system, not the response to that system, namely, the Occupy movement. If you eat rotten meat, are you going to blame the rotten meat or your stomach’s response to that rotten meat?
Well, we’re being served rotten meat, folks and people like Joey Farah want you to just chew and enjoy it. Farah, like Glenn Beck, see George Soros behind every tree but what George Soros thinks or does is less important than what Adam Smith, the guy who “invented” modern capitalism thought: that rich people should pay their fair share – more even than their fair share.
In his 1776 magnum opus, The Wealth of Nations, Adam Smith wrote:
“The necessaries of life occasion the great expense of the poor. They find it difficult to get food, and the greater part of their little revenue is spent in getting it. The luxuries and vanities of life occasion the principal expense of the rich, and a magnificent house embellishes and sets off to the best advantage all the other luxuries and vanities which they possess. A tax upon house-rents, therefore, would in general fall heaviest upon the rich; and in this sort of inequality there would not, perhaps, be anything unreasonable. It is not very unreasonable that the rich should contribute to the public expense, not only in proportion to their revenue, but something more than in that proportion.”
Even the guy who got the capitalist ball rolling at the dawn of the Industrial Age said “It is not very unreasonable that the rich should contribute to the public expense, not only in proportion to their revenue, but something more than in that proportion.”
To look at these words, you’d think would himself by participating in Occupy’s May Day protests. In fact, Occupy ought to adopt Smith as a symbol. Smith “got it” as we say today.
WND wants to lay the blame for anarchist violence at the feet of Occupy Wall Street, which has as a statement of purpose the following:
“Occupy Wall Street is a leaderless resistance movement with people of many colors, genders and political persuasions. The one thing we all have in common is that We Are The 99% that will no longer tolerate the greed and corruption of the 1%. We are using the revolutionary Arab Spring tactic to achieve our ends and encourage the use of nonviolence to maximize the safety of all participants.”
WND makes all sorts of claims about Occupy’s embrace and alliance with anarchy and anarchist associations which promote violence but if you actually visit the Occupy Wall Street site you see none of that; you see none of that at the Seattle site. Nobody is issuing “eight foot long pipes” or promoting the overturning of trash cans. And unlike the Tea Party rallies, the protesters will not be heavily armed; they will not be talking about putting “Second Amendment remedies” into action.
They will simply be standing up for their economic rights. As Thomas Jefferson said in support of taxes, “The farmer will see his government supported, his children educated, and the face of this country made a paradise by the contributions of the rich alone, without his being called on to spend a cent from his earnings.” The problems the Occupy movement takes to the streets to protest on May 1 are not of their own making and the Occupy movement is not the problem – it is a response to a problem that has been growing in severity for decades, a problem that even Thomas Jefferson and Adam Smith recognized.
The Right Wing media will be abuzz tomorrow, you can count on it, but not with the facts, not with the problem or its origins and causes, but with buzz words and talking points that tell us more about their attitudes and motivations than those of the Occupy movement.
Hrafnkell Haraldsson, a social liberal with leanings toward centrist politics has degrees in history and philosophy. His interests include, besides history and philosophy, human rights issues, freedom of choice, religion, and the precarious dichotomy of freedom of speech and intolerance. He brings a slightly different perspective to his writing, being that he is neither a follower of an Abrahamic faith nor an atheist but a polytheist, a modern-day Heathen who follows the customs and traditions of his Norse ancestors. He maintains his own blog, A Heathen’s Day, which deals with Heathen and Pagan matters, and Mos Maiorum Foundation www.mosmaiorum.org, dedicated to ethnic religion. He has also contributed to NewsJunkiePost, GodsOwnParty and Pagan+Politics.