Nothing New under the Sun: OWS and '60s Radicalism
Have you read A Patriot's History of the United States by Larry Schweikart and Michael Allen, published by the Penguin Group? If not, you should.
In his review, Glenn Beck said, "This book has taught me more about our history than any I've read in years. A Patriot's History of the United States should be required reading for all Americans." I agree. (Except for the "should be required" thing. I don't want anyone requiring me to read anything, no matter how good.)
The thing about this book is that it does not only deal with an outline of events in our history, but it instead fills in the background details of what was happening in, around, before, and as a consequence of those events. Rather than a slide show, it is a verbal video of our history. It dares to question the accuracy of some of today's revisionist historians and to debunk some popular myths about many of our politicians whose clay feet have never been adequately examined.
One striking result of my reading this book was a recurring sense of déjà vu in our national story. Nowhere is this more apparent than with the Free Speech Movement and the anti-Viet Nam War protests of the 1960s and '70s and how they relate to the current "Occupy Everything" movement. Note the following similarities:
Neither was just a spontaneous, grassroots emotional outburst.
Writing about the Free Speech movement on college campuses, authors Schweikart and Allen observed:
[C]ampus violence was not a case of emotions getting out of hand, as is sometimes portrayed. Nor was it a case of frustrated student radicals who "lacked the patience and discipline for nonviolent protest. Rather, it represented a predictable evolution of events when a radical minority steeped in revolutionary tactics and filled with an ideology of terror attempted to impose its worldview on the majority by shutting down facilities. (p. 700)
Likewise, at the OWS, radical elements quickly moved in to take over and offer money (from G. Soros, et al.?), food, shelter, advice, and encouragement to the early few, who, bolstered by leftist money and organized support, soon blossomed into the large numbers the MSM so enjoys touting. The claim to spontaneity was given the lie by Glenn Beck in the rising smoke of the Arab Spring months earlier, when he brought to light leftist documents that promised "big things" in October.
Both were co-opted by radicals with an agenda.
Schweikart and Allen further noted that even the outspoken leftist leader Tom Bell was not radical enough for the audience at a 1968 SDS convention:
[M]embers of the Progressive Labor wing howled curses at him for being too anticommunist. Here was a revolutionary who wanted to destroy or, at the very least, fundamentally eviscerate the foundations of American democracy and capitalism being called a "red baiter." Consequently, just as the SDS had established itself on 350 to 400 campuses across the country, claiming perhaps a hundred thousand members, communist elements within the organization tore it apart, achieving the goal of the more militant communists of pushing the radical movement toward street violence, yielding its position of influence to the militant Weathermen. (p. 700)
Those of us who read Ms Zelikovsky's October 17 article, "The Revolutionaries' Revenge," may remember her litany of friends of OWS: MoveOn, SEIU, AFL-CIO, National Nurses United, Working Families Party, Van Jones' Rebuild the Dream, Adbusters, US Day of Rage, Take the Square, October 2011, We are the 99%, Progressive Change Campaign Committee, CREDO, and MoveOn's very own Avaaz.org -- the international progenitor of the Arab Spring.
Tactics of confrontation designed to elicit violence were used by both.
Jerry Rubin, one of the leaders of the New Left Yippie movement, expressed his contempt for the system within which most of the activists operated. Violating the law had no negative connotation for the Yippies, and few feared genuine reprisals from the "repressive establishment" they denigrated daily. Destroying property, insulting police and city officials, polluting, and breaking the law in any way possible were jokes to some; to others, arrest only signified their commitment or validated their ideology. Rubin, called into court, laughed, "Those who got subpoenas became heroes. Those who didn't had subpoenas envy. It was almost sexual. 'Whose is bigger?' 'I want one, too.'" (pp. 700-701)
The OWS crowd has deliberately engaged in actions designed to elicit a response from authorities, from blocking bridges, streets, and public parks to vandalism en masse of banks. The MSM have been quick to show police reaction, complete with young "victims" on the ground, some conveniently bleeding, amid clouds of tear gas. Absent, however, from prime-time news has been footage of the bottle- and rock-throwing by the protesters or the blood on injured police.
Their aims were the same.
The authors of A Patriot's History point out the goals and strategies of the protesters of the 1970s:
Radicals like Rubin noted that the essence of the movement was twofold: repel and alienate mainstream American society, setting the radicals up as antiestablishment heroes who would have a natural appeal to teens and college students seeking to break away from their parents; and refuse rational negotiation in order to polarize and radicalize campuses (and, they hoped, the rest of the United States). (p. 701)
Ms. Zelikovsky's video, as well as those of Fox News journalists and (surprise, surprise) even some -- well, a few -- from the MSM, have shown the recurring themes of "Down with the system," "Í won't believe corporations are people till Texas executes one," "Pepper Spray Goldman $achs" "Jail Bankers," "Class warfare ahead," "Money hungry fascists are dead inside," and "Tear down this wall street."
Celebrities were quick to join the cause.
Actress Jane Fonda visited Hanoi in 1972 with her then-husband, activist Tom Hayden. In a famous photo, she posed sitting in the gunner's seat of a North Vietnamese antiaircraft gun -- exactly the type used to shoot down the American pilots who were held nearby in the Hanoi Hilton prison, being tortured and starved -- then spoke on Radio Hanoi as American POWs were forced to listen. (p. 701)
Who can forget (or get over) I-never-saw-a-leftist-cause-I-didn't-like Michael Moore in Oakland, his jowls flapping joyously in the wind, cheering on the bottle- and rock-throwing victims of the one-percenters' greed?
The website Celebrity Net Worth catalogued the following not-so-oppressed VIPs among OWS supporters:
Here is a list of the 10 richest celebrities supporting Occupy Wall Street (they have a combined net worth of $1.255 billion by the way):
#1 Yoko Ono Net Worth - $500 million.
#2 Russell Simmons Net Worth - $325 million
#3 Roseanne Barr Net Worth - $80 million
#4 Deepak Chopra Net Worth - $80 million
#5 Kanye West Net Worth - $70 million
#6 Alec Baldwin Net Worth - $65 million
#7 Susan Sarandon Net Worth - $50 million
#8 Michael Moore Net Worth - $50 million
#9 Tim Robbins Net Worth - $50 million
#10 Nancy Pelosi Net Worth - $35.5 million
Further comparisons could be made -- the MSM's love affair, the cheering on of violence against U.S. military, taking pride in smelling bad just to irritate the opposition -- but I'll leave that for your further reading.
Some historians adhere to a cyclical theory of history, which seems to fit in this case. However, I find more cause for hope in what I call the pendulum theory -- at least in American history. There appears to be some basic principle of moral gravity in the psyche of the American middle majority that allows the swing of events to go just so far to the left or to the right. We tend to latch on to a charismatic leader or catchy phrase (both in one package is even better) and ride the bob till it reaches the amplitude of our toleration. Then we lean back, shouting "thus far and no farther," and ride the trend in the other direction. We went from Truman to Ike, from Johnson to Nixon (oops!), from Carter to Reagan, from Bush 1 to Clinton to Bush 2 to Obama (a bit of a fibrillated beat there). One can only hope that we can make Obama's swing a short one and come up with someone who will give us a long, smooth ride.
Graves Collins: early on, a Baptist minister, now retired from thirty years in sales. He once wrote articles, training materials, and position papers for different Southern Baptist Convention agencies. He is now a collector of his own numerous "books'n stuff in progress."