This past Thursday (October 13), an associate and I visited Zucotti Park to interact with the protesters from Occupy Wall Street. We spent over 14 hours there, arriving at 9 at night and staying until 11AM Friday morning. This was a surprisingly worthwhile exercise as we were able to speak with many people. Some of them sought us out to tell us their message. Having taken the time to listen to the protesters, I have a different take on Occupy Wall Street from the current view.
The real face of Occupy Wall Street
Many of these protesters are incoherent. Many of them are radical socialists. But a very large number are reasonable and well spoken. These protesters are upset with the very same things as those of us in the tea party, and do not see the tea party as the enemy. In fact many of the protesters claimed to support tea party efforts. All they want, they say, is for the government to leave them alone and to abide by the Constitution as it was written. That should sound familiar to any member of the tea party.
You will note that the protesters decry the influence of “the banks” and “Wall Street”. We asked many of them whether they thought the Federal Reserve Bank was in any way responsible for the financial crisis. Most of them allowed as how “them too” (sic) were probably also guilty. But many of them do not even know what the Federal Reserve is. Nor do they know that it is not “federal” in any sense of the word, but is a private corporation unconstitutionally created to control the money supply. They were ignorant of the true nature of the Fed even though they were quite knowledgeable and coherent on other issues. Someone needs to explain to them the nature of the Federal Reserve. Someone might also explain what capitalism really is, as they seem to have been brainwashed about this.
What’s on their minds?
An Occupy Wall Street protester waves the Gadsden flag, and seems to understand what that flag represents. Photo: Dan Haggerty/CNAV
The important point is that while this movement may have a hard core of radicals, most are not fully simpatico with this element. Most know that something is wrong with our country; but not what it is. The Democrat Party, mainstream media, Soros-affiliated radicals and various unions are manipulating them. National press coverage has focused on the anti-“Wall Street” theme and support of the usual litany of socialist demands—free this, free that and of course “tax the rich”. The media broadcast only selected interviews that fit their template. MSNBC and CNN promote the “tax the rich” scenario; FOX seems to promote the “filthy hippie” narrative. None of them show the several Gadsden flags that some protesters carry. (See photo at right.) Clearly, not all the Occupy Wall Street people are wild-eyed radicals dressed for revolution. Most of these people would not look out of place at a tea party event.
Several protesters said they do not want to associate with the Democrat Party and booed Charlie Rangel when he tried to share the stage with them. They say they do not want to be co-opted “like the tea party was co-opted by the Republicans”—a statement one is hard-pressed to refute. Many openly support Ron Paul (the only candidate so far to pledge to abolish the Federal Reserve).
The unions, the Soros affiliates, and various anarchists seem to control this movement and hope to steer it as they see fit. Most of the sociology professors in the greater New York area seemed to be at Zucotti Park. They milled about and lectured the kids. We also saw a large number of ex-hippies sprinkled throughout the crowd, spouting warmed-over 60s slogans and various forms of Marxist-speak. Radical these kids may be, but they are reachable. Remember that during the Vietnam war protests leaders of the SDS and the free-speech movement often infiltrated the crowds. They then incited the protesters into going beyond war protest and into more aggressive positions and tactics, usually involving violence and revolution.
This tactic is right out of the Saul Alinsky-Bill Ayers playbook. It worked before and it can work again—unless tea party members and libertarians check those efforts. Since we who may incline towards involvement understand the Rules for Radicals playbook, we can launch a counter-offensive.
A Tea Party charm offensive
The vanguard of the Occupy Wall Street movement is in lower Manhattan. Their preeminence among all Occupy Wall Street groups presents an important strategic opportunity. Tea party and libertarian activists from the metropolitan area should visit the site and interact with the protesters. They should do this, not just in Manhattan, but wherever the Occupy Wall Street movement exists. They have a real opportunity to counter the left and influence the thinking of the protesters through dialogue and peaceful means with those members of Occupy Wall Street with whom they can still have civil conversations. There are many more such people there than one would think. If the reader is convinced that the protesters are all crazed unsavory types, then I ask: Where did you get your information? Have you been there yet and spoken with the protesters? I suspect not. If you haven’t been there, then I suggest you probably got your perception of these people from the MSM. Are you going to let them influence your thinking?
The real enemies of both groups…
The manipulators want to split the US population into competing groups along a mostly phony left-right axis and steer it into voting for their candidates—almost none of whom offers real change. If the electorate stays off-balance fighting each other then it won’t fight the real threats to freedom in this country. They are:
If anything would terrify the political establishment that runs this country, an alliance between tea party types and Occupy Wall Street would. The tea party could catalyze this alliance if its members individually visit Zucotti Park.
…and how they can ally with one another
My associate and I stayed at Zucotti Park till 11AM the following morning waiting for the police to begin evicting the protesters. That did not happen. I speculate that the movement offers the opportunity of a propaganda coup for the progressive establishment, and they want to co-opt it to their advantage. The narrative will continue to be that the protesters are the “anti tea party” and have tapped into “what’s really wrong with this country”. And since they are calling for free health care and taxing the rich, then “the kids are all right”. This theme has definite advantages for the current regime, but forceful eviction of the Occupy Wall Street protesters could backfire against it.
The tea party cannot sit back and do nothing while this happens. I urge activists to visit Zucotti Park in lower Manhattan. Come face to face with the protesters; singly or in small groups. They will be surprised at how effective they can be and glad they went.
A four-part interview with a well-spoken Occupy Wall Street protester.
Another reasonable protester on good and bad ways to get rich.
A not-so-reasonable protester says it was better in Cuba. Not everyone is reachable!
Dan Haggerty is an architect, political activist, and Vietnam-era veteran living in Randolph New Jersey. He can be reached at [email protected].