I’ll never forget the day I thought I was wiser than Andrew Breitbart and that I could teach him a moral lesson. He and I were at CPAC last spring, where he had just given a powerful speech on social issues. It is grim for me to reflect that it was one of his last public addresses. He died just a few weeks later.
In a good mood, we walked out of the hotel to get a drink, only to find that the street was filled by a mob. Not a calm group of demonstrators, or even an impassioned crowd, but a raucous and ugly troop of surly, ill-clad activists. Occupy D.C. was marching on CPAC–and shouting obscenities at us.
Andrew was usually what I’d call a happy warrior, but this group provoked something different. He started to seethe. He turned a deep red, and seemed like he wanted to start yelling back. Here is where I got to play the “compassionate Catholic” card.
I patted him on the back. “Andrew, you and I both know they’re totally wrong. They’re completely misguided, and the solutions they want to impose would make things worse–not better–for the people they care about. But cut them some slack. They’re upset by poverty and injustice in our country, and they think this is what they can do to help. They’re convinced that they’re acting to promote real justice….”
Now Andrew was angry at me. “No, they are not. That is not what these people want at all, and you ought to know better. That,” he said, pointing a finger, “is a horde of brutes and thugs. They are anti-intellectual bullies, with totalitarian goals. Think of the mobs that cheered the guillotine while it fell, that rallied for the Bolsheviks. That is what those people remind me of, and they don’t deserve one speck of sympathy. They merit contempt.”
Andrew knew far more about the Occupy movement than I did, and knowledge vaccinated him against my strain of daftly misguided compassion. He had spent long months working on the chilling new film Occupy Unmasked, poring over news items, inside accounts from former members, and detailed police reports. He also had followed the networks of national far-left organizations and politicized, well-funded labor unions, and he knew that what presents itself as a kind of national flash mob–a spontaneous outburst of idealistic fervor–was in fact a carefully manufactured product, like a new brand of toothbrush.
That comparison would infuriate the rank and file who in the past year filled public places and invaded private property, because the openly stated agenda of the Occupy movement was to smash “capitalism,” radically redistribute income, and produce a “new” socialist America. How do I know this? From watching
Occupy Unmasked, where I lost count of the number of signs, t-shirts, posters, and crudely sprayed graffiti messages saying exactly that. There were pictures of Che Guevara and Hugo Chavez, flags of Cuba and of Hamas. There were Black Panther salutes, and black ski masks, and plenty of anarchist flags.
I also saw plenty of placards and t-shirts denouncing the police, most memorably the Occupy sign that read “My Heroes Have Always Killed Cops.” The film documents how Occupy demonstrators attack and provoke local police–ironically, it’s often upper-middle class white kids taunting African-American policemen, who are singled out for racist taunts of “Jim Crow” and “Uncle Tom”–and how the hacker group Anonymous coordinates its efforts with Occupy, publicizing names and addresses of street cops and dissenting journalists to expose them to intimidation and threats. The goal of provoking cops, the film reveals, is to force police to arrest protestors–whom the media uniformly present as peace-loving, idealistic protestors suppressed by brute force. We shouldn’t be too surprised by this either; as the film shows, a reporter from the New York Times who was allegedly covering the Occupy movement was actually one of its organizers.
Under the guise of attacking the “one percent” who supposedly are the only people who benefit from America’s market economy, the Occupiers are in fact calling for much more revolutionary changes than the Mainstream Media or sympathetic Democratic politicians (like Joe Biden, Nancy Pelosi, and Barack Obama) admit. The film offers sobering footage of professional anarchists charging up crowds of Occupy activists with promises of “the Revolution,” and clips of Obama political mentor (and former Weather Underground bomber) Bill Ayers dismissing attacks on property and buildings as “not acts of terrorism.” For background, it interviews several refugees from the radical left, including former Vietnam-era subversive David Horowitz–who ties together the tactics, goals, and media strategies of the Occupy movement with those employed by the antiwar movement. Horowitz points out how the same young Americans who filled the streets when South Vietnamese troops fought Communist guerrillas never bothered to protest the slaughters that followed the American abandonment of Southeast Asia. The “killing fields” of Cambodia that claimed more than a million lives never inspired a single street march in America. Because, for the radicals who pulled the strings behind those protests, the protests were never about the war in Vietnam. They were about fomenting class war and race war in America.
As the film exhaustively documents, the Occupy movement was likewise carefully planned, more than a year before its first protest was staged in New York City. Who orchestrated it? Leaders of the Service Industrial Employees Union, eager to protect salaries and benefits that make them better off than the average taxpayer who pays their salaries, made a detailed action plan for the movement with a cabal of far-left activists, professional anarchists, roving “social justice” advocates, and (of course) “community organizers.”
Few of us know directly what community organizers do, or where they learned their tactics, but Occupy Unmasked lets us in on that little secret: Community organizers are mostly white, well-educated young left-wing Americans (many of them still supported by their parents–some of them, as the film shows, by trust funds) who swarm into poor communities and use the inhabitants as “extras” in staged demonstrations and shake-downs. In the film, a former member of ACORN–one of its only non-white national directors–exposes the methods of community organizers, and shows how they were used to foment the “spontaneous” outbursts of the Occupy movement.
Others who left Occupy show how the same cast of characters, ranging from the terrorist group the Earth Liberation Front to the New Black Panther Party, were involved in the protests in Seattle in 1996, in Gaza on the West Bank, in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, and in the attack on the Republican National Convention in 2008. At that convention, two anarchists who had planned to use Molotov cocktails against police–only being caught thanks to an FBI informant. Occupy Unmasked interviews that informant, a former radical himself, who recounts how the media made him–not the would-be cop killers–the villain in news stories about it. The informant himself shoots some of the footage for Occupy Unmasked, where we see him confronted by Occupy activists who recognize him and accuse him of “selling out the movement.” This same movement, directed by union leaders such as Jimmy Hoffa of the Teamsters (confronted on camera about his $300,000 annual salary) orchestrated the chaos last year at Wisconsin’s state capitol.
The “non-violent” pretenses of the movement are belied by the violent slogans, by the calls for the destruction of American institutions and of the State of Israel, by the swarming of a targeted bank executive’s private home by mobs of bused-in poor people (paid, as one of them admits on camera, $60 per day)–all documented on camera in Occupy Unmasked.
Where did community organizers learn their tactics? From the man who coined the word and invented its methods, Saul Alinsky–a Marxist activist who started by taking over labor unions in the 1930s. It was at Alinsky’s own school, the Industrial Areas Foundation, that Barack Obama was trained in these techniques. No wonder he has expressed such sympathy (for instance, in his last State of the Union address) for the stated goals of the Occupy movement. His one-time rival, Hilary Clinton, thought Alinsky sufficiently admirable that she wrote her college thesis on him; this film shows us the cover page to prove it.
What troubled me most after watching Occupy Unmasked was not just the historical blindness that would lead educated Americans to embrace bankrupt socialist economics and crass neo-Marxist tactics. I’m used to “intellectuals” getting things wrong. What disturbed me was the naked rage and hatred that seemed to radiate from the activists it exposed. As they crashed store windows, bankrupted small businesses, spread feces in banks, bullied blue-collar cops, harassed conservatives who tried to videotape them, and ignored the wave of rapes and assaults (documented in this film by witnesses) that swept their filthy, disorderly camps, these activists didn’t offer a single positive answer. Apart from a “fairness” that included forgiving their student loans and giving private assets to the government, there was nothing these people were for. They knew what they were against, what they wanted to tear down, occupy, soil, and smash.
It was America. It was my country, my family, my treasured institutions, the civil peace, order, and justice that I believe in. The Occupiers were attacking me, and since Andrew was my friend that made him mad. Andrew always hated bullies. I have many powerful memories of my good friend, who now is lost to us. But one of the most haunting appears toward the end of this film: It is Andrew, confronting a mob of Occupy activists, and he is bravely telling them, nose to nose: “Behave yourselves! Stop looting, stop raping, stop tearing this country down!” The best way I can honor Andrew’s memory is to join him at the barricades and add my voice to his, by helping unmask those who would Occupy America. Every Occupation deserves a Resistance.