Rightbloggers Denounce Occupy Wall Street, Which Is Totally Not Like the Tea Party Because Hippies
Back during the Tea Party heyday, months ago, rightbloggers would applaud the guys and gals in tricorners who gathered in public to protest the "ruling class" that, they said, was destroying America, and agitate for a new Revolution.
The Tea Party seems to be fading, and now we have Occupy Wall Street, whose adherents have gathered in public to protest the bankers and brokers who, they say, are destroying America, and agitate for a new Revolution.
You will not be surprised to learn that rightbloggers are much less sympathetic to the second new Revolution than to the first.
Though the OWS protests have many fanciful aspects -- like the grandiose "Declaration of the Occupation of New York City" issued by a "General Assembly" -- it has gained the interest of a lot of people. The message that bailouts, foreclosures, and rapacious banking practices have been bad for America may have more support than is immediately apparent, as polls show contempt for and distrust of banksters and such like to be general and strong.
The Tea Partying rightbloggers often like to portray themselves as anti-establishment, too. Granted, their idea of the "establishment" is mainly the Democratic Party. And they're more likely to flock to the defense of the banksters, and beseech them to "go Galt," than criticize them.
But they do sometimes notice that Obama is mobbed up with Wall Street types, and say they don't like it. While that's not the same as criticizing Wall Street -- and may in fact be prompted more by spurned-lover jealousy than by genuine righteous indignation -- surely it's possible that some of them understand Wall Street is part of the problem, at least.
But some of you have been to this rodeo before, and probably know that the likelihood of this is Not Bloody. Rightbloggers don't go for these protests at all. For one thing, in their view the protests were full of hippies -- by which they don't mean, as you might imagine, the old guys in tie-dye you see hanging around the Co-Op, but young people who are not dressed for office jobs.
In a much-circulated story, some rich toffs disparagingly referred to the protesters as "hippies" -- and this has become the preferred nomenclature among rightbloggers (not to mention perhaps-fanciful sources at the New York Post).
"Meet the hippies, potheads and Communists who want to 'bring capitalism down' at Occupy Wall Street," said Invisaligtist. "Hippies Invade Wall Street For 'Day Of Rage,'" yelled Marooned in Marin. "SMELLY HIPPIES PROTEST WALL STREET....BY SHOWING THEIR TITTIES," drooled Kickin' and Screamin'. "Screwball Hippies," said the Washington Times. Glenn Beck's The Blaze saw "dozens of people in tie-dyed T-shirts and star-spangled underwear..."
Etc. This continued at Twitter ("The NYPD finally gets to clear its inventory of hippie-strength tear gas... Hippies should be neutered...") and wherever else tech-enabled patriots congregate.
Datechguy heard that unions were getting involved with the protests, which naturally made him think of the horse's-head scene in The Godfather; for, just as all protestors who are not wearing tricorners are hippies, so all union members who are not Ronald Reagan are in the Mafia.
Some of the cleverer ones, like Instapundit Glenn Reynolds, tried to play both ends against the middle. "I would be harsher on these people," said Reynolds, "but given how thoroughly Obama has been in bed with Wall Street, and vice versa, it's hard for me to get very excited." That's an interesting reaction to the advancement of a cause he appears to support; in fact, it sounds as if Reynolds prefers hippie-punching to opposing Obama and his Wall Street Pals -- and sure enough, Reynolds quickly got with the Stupid Hippies storyline. (Also, when he heard the Occupy Wall Street protests compared to Egypt's at Tahrir Square, Reynolds mused, "those who think that Egypt is a good model might want to ponder for just a moment how that's worked out." How they miss Mubarak on the right! Well, with Pinochet and Franco dead, these are lean times for rightblogger role models.)
On a similar note, "Occupy Wall Street Not Our Arab Awakening," harrumped James Joyner at Outside the Beltway. Joyner admitted that "there's a lot of frustration out there, much of it legitimate" at Wall Street, but "random protests years after the fact are a bizarre reaction to all that in a representative democracy. If there's really a movement out there to change the way we do business, then organize that effort into a political movement and get into the arena rather than clogging up the Brooklyn Bridge." You can almost hear a crewcut dad yelling this at his hippie son, circa 1970.
Also, "Mob rule is a poor substitute for democracy," said Joyner. "...The last thing we need in America is to increase the level of rancor and noise." One would have thought it too late for that, but maybe Joyner's hearing is only attuned to rancorous protests by people under 65 who are not wearing Patrick Henry costumes.
70's Dad might also nod sagely at the analysis of Hot Air's Howard Portnoy: "I'm pretty sure that most Americans at this point are on the same page as [protester Erin] Larkins," Portnoy don't-get-me-wronged. "The only question is how to bring about the change she is seeking. Somehow, I don't think taking up residence on the streets of lower Manhattan and defiling the bathroom at a nearby McDonald's is the answer." (There is nothing in the story about anyone "defiling" a McDonald's, but, you know -- dirty hippies! Haw haw!)
One of the big differences between the Tea Party protests and those of Occupy Wall Street is the police overkill visited on participants -- including the pepper-spraying of some protesters, and the mass arrests that took place at the Brooklyn Bridge on Saturday when 700 protesters were hauled off for blocking traffic.
Rightbloggers would surely have screamed bloody murder if any Obama Storm Troopers touched one hair on yon Teaperson's grey head (e.g., "OBAMA & BIG SIS Call In Riot Police on Quincy Tea Party Patriots"), but many applauded the use of force here, and some seemed to get a physical thrill from it.
"Boy, guys, that's really considerate of you," said Troglopundit of protesters who marched toward a police station to protest the pepper-spraying, "tear gas canisters and replacement pepper spray is heavy. Having you guys come right to police headquarters - that makes resupply a whole lot easier."
"Nothing makes me happier than to see hippies thrown in the hoosegow," giggled This Ain't Hell. "...The young lady in this video seems to be angry that someone stole her tits." "How Much Would You Pay To Pepper Spray Wall Street Protesters?" asked Fef at SodaHead.
To be fair, some took a moderate approach: "The incident reminds me of an axiom among street cops: Leave the police work to the police officers," said National Review's Jack Dunphy. "Even if it is somehow demonstrated that the protesters had a hosing-down with pepper spray coming, it should not have been [Deputy Inspector Anthony] Bologna who delivered it." Look, he's meeting you people halfway!
William Teach of The Pirates' Cove thought the mass arrests showed that Occupy Wall Street was "violent and lawless," and described an OWS leader's suggestion that arresting officers' badge numbers be noted as an attempt to "threaten" the police. Teach also described the protesters as "dirty smelly hippies who want free money" and have a "funky smell," "chumps," etc.
"They so desperately crave attention and now they're getting it," said Jammie Wearing Fool of the arrestees.
Lee Stranahan, an alleged liberal who spends most his time promoting rightwing causes, called the protests "a stupid, counterproductive waste of time," and figured the protesters were just protesting because "it's fun, right? Even getting pepper sprayed and arrested is fun, technically. Sort of like a rainstorm at an outdoor concert."
Maybe he meant it's fun when it happens to other people. At another of his forums, Andrew Breitbart's Big Government, Stranahan explained that the protests were really about labor unions. You may be envisioning unionized hardhats beating up longhairs as in days of yore, but no, Stranahan told us, now the hippies are working with the hardhats -- they're "using the iconography of protest to actually SUPPORT the government status quo -- specifically public employees. See, they can't get a lot of support if they come out and say 'Protest to keep out cushy pensions!' because who is going to show up for THAT, right?" Yeah, right.
Well, for the protesters it's a start -- at first people were just laughing at them because they didn't think anyone was going to show up; now they're taking a vicious pleasure in the pepper-spraying and arrests. By some standards, that's exactly how an insurrectionary movement is supposed to go. Maybe now they should get some actual hippies in there with them -- recent history shows that the press responds better to these things if you're wearing ridiculous outfits.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you'll never miss Village Voice's biggest stories.