Friday, October 14, 2011

Examination of Tea parties and Occupy(fill in the blank) show double standards

I've deliberately held off writing about the Occupy(fill in the blank) events because I thought it would be best not to judge the entire movement by the actions of the individual members - many of whom are really out there. I've been waiting, patiently, for them to decide what their goals are - though I am concerned that they refer to it as 'demands.'

I've been reading conservative and liberal sites - praise and condemnation. I've seen the despicable things and the stupid things, heard heart-wrenching stories and passionate pleas.

My original thought on the lack of goals for the group was that, by failing to define themselves, they were opening themselves up to be defined by others. And others - from both the left and right - have clearly done so.

Sadly, the majority of the people willing to be recorded by others are not good representatives - or perhaps they are exactly what the 'movement' represents, which will turn out to be a bad thing for the movement itself.

So while I wait (days, weeks or months, according to one speaker recorded at OccupyToledo by Fred LeFebvre at WSPD), I thought I'd take a look at the differences and similarities between the TEA parties and the Occupiers - and the double standards that are being employed.

A significant difference is, obviously, the purpose. The Occupiers don't have any yet, though they seem to agree in general on anti-capitalism. They don't like Wall Street, either, but they've not developed any specifics for which they have achieved consensus. They have several well-circulated proposals which range from 'abolish the federal reserve' to 'forgive all debt,' 'open the borders' and 'pay everyone a living wage regardless of work.'

TEA stands for Taxed Enough Already, which is a clear message about the goal and purpose of the participants. In joining together to oppose the fact that they believed they were taxed enough, they focused on the Constitutional restrictions on the federal government which they believe have been exceeded, resulting in taxation to support non-constitutional things.

The press coverage of the two actions is also quite different, as the Media Research Institute explains:

The Occupy Wall Street protestors have received overwhelmingly positive coverage from the Big Three (ABC, CBS, NBC) news networks, as they used their airtime to publicize and promote the aggressively leftist movement. In just the first eleven days of October, ABC, CBS and NBC flooded their morning and evening newscasts with a whopping 33 full stories or interview segments on the protestors. This was a far cry from the greeting the Tea Party received from the Big Three as that conservative protest movement was initially ignored (only 13 total stories in all of 2009) and then reviled.

Where the Tea Party was met with skeptical claims of their motivations -- with some reporters claiming they were merely corporate backed puppets and others implying they were spurred on by their racist opposition to the first black president – the Occupy Wall Street crowd was depicted as an almost genial “grassroots” movement.
Most astoundingly, the networks’ Occupy Wall Street (OWS) stories were overwhelmingly sympathetic: Protestors and supporters of the movement dominated the soundbites, with 109 (87%) to just 8 critics (6%), with another 8 soundbites from neutral sources. Five of the eight soundbites unsympathetic to the protestors were brief clips of GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain blasting the occupiers. In addition to the 109 pro-OWS soundbites, seven times guests on the Big Three network morning shows expressed sympathy for the protestors. No guests opposed the protests.

Interestingly, and this is a similarity, both groups believed the press was being unfair in their descriptions - depicting them negatively or out of context.

The way the groups have been described by the media is also quite different - not just because of the stated or apparent goals. While the media routinely identify conservative perspectives as 'conservative' or other descriptors with negative connotations, they rarely do the same with liberal ones.

In 2009 Tea Partiers were repeatedly but accurately described as conservative. Back on the April 15, 2009 Today show, NBC’s Chuck Todd’s labeling was typical when he introduced the Tea Party movement to viewers this way: “There’s been some grassroots conservatives who have organized so-called Tea Parties around the country, hoping the historical reference will help galvanize Americans against the President’s economic ideas. But, I tell you, the idea hasn’t really caught on.”

However, when it came to appropriately labeling the OWS crowd as leftist or liberals, it happened exactly one time, when on the October 11 edition of ABC’s Good Morning America, co-anchor George Stephanopoulous asked Obama campaign strategist David Plouffe if he thought the OWS protestors were the “liberal version of the Tea Party?” and wondered if that was a “good thing for the White House?”

The only other usages of the world “liberal” came when Columbia University’s Dorian Warren, on the October 1 NBC Nightly News asserted that the protesteors were “a liberal version of the Tea Party” and obligingly offered: “I think this could potentially carry over into the 2012 elections and get people to the polls.” Then, on the October 9 edition of Sunday Morning, Rebecca Jarvis pegged Columbia University professor Todd Gitlin as “a liberal observer of the politics of the protest.”

In fact, as this more recent article from MRC's Business and Media Institute points out, the headline says it all:

Media Embrace 'Noble' Extremists Occupying Wall Street, Ignore Radicalism 88% of the Time
Communists, anarchists and revolutionaries fight to destroy capitalism, while journalists praise the 'Zen-like' encampment.

The article has plenty of examples of 'extremism,' most of which you can find on the Internet, but not in the main stream media. But if you recall the tea party coverage, it was confrontational and seemed to the tea partiers to go out of the way to highlight the most 'extreme' of signs, even when there was only one such example at a gathering of hundreds.

Another difference is in how the media and politicians treat the supporters. While many claimed that the tea parties were just astroturfing, the occupiers are praised as being truly grass-roots, despite the fact that their entire movement is being supported and assisted by Adbusters, an anti-capitalist group in Canada.

According to the OccupyWallStreet (OWS) web page, Adbusters started the protests:

On 13 Jul 2011, the group Adbusters released this call: Occupy Wall Street!

In Solidarity, and as a response to this call, a planning group was formed [], and an info sharing site established. The participation of every person, and every organization, that has an interest in returning the US back into the hands of it's individual citizens is required.

OWS clearly admits they are an action that was dictated by a foreign company.

From the Adbuster's blog:

On September 17, we want to see 20,000 people flood into lower Manhattan, set up tents, kitchens, peaceful barricades and occupy Wall Street for a few months.

Talk about astroturfing....

But the MSM hasn't even mentioned this, despite the fact that it is clearly discerned.

*** SIDENOTE: In their call to occupy Wall Street, Adbusters says (emphasis added): "Our government would be forced to choose publicly between the will of the people and the lucre of the corporations." But as a company based in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, the United States government is not their own.

Does anyone else see the problem here?

The tea parties did have an inspiration - Rick Santelli's rant that was broadcast on CNBC. But Santelli was an individual and it was individuals who, liking the idea, decided to follow through.

Now, since both actions began, other groups have stepped in and joined to support the movements. Conservative and free-market organizations urged their members to attend tea parties and were often called upon to speak to the tea party protests. Unions and liberal groups have donated funds and support while encouraging their members to join with the occupiers.

In both instances, the involvement is welcomed by the groups. But while the tea parties are still accused of being 'tools' of these groups and even the Republican Party, the Occupy(fill in the blank) has received no such accusations. In fact, when individual occupiers talk about the idea of being 'co-opted' by liberal groups, they insist that all are welcome but that they are not like the tea parties.

Occupiers maintain that groups joining with them are there because they agree with the message (yet to be defined, but don't let that fact get in the way). However, they then claim that tea parties (doing the exact same thing - welcoming groups that agree with them) are 'tools.' The contradiction in perspective, despite the exact same occurrence, is striking and clearly indicates a double standard.

Tea party members insist that no group or organization is behind their involvement (which was certainly true in Toledo, as I was there and helped provide advice and direction on city matters to the individual who organized the first Toledo tea party). But when they do so, the media and those on the left accuse them of lying, being insincere, are sayt they're just too dumb to know they're being used.

Individual occupiers routinely express this opinion.

But when the occupiers say the exact same thing, that no group or organization is behind their involvement, they are believed. Double standards don't sit well with the American public.

Now, is it likely and accurate that many of the people participating in the Occupy action are there of their own volition, hearing about the actions and deciding to 'do something'? Yes, it is. But if occupiers know this to be true of themselves, why do so many of them reject the same for members of the tea party?

Perhaps the media descriptions had something to do with it? Again, MRC points out:

Back on the April 15, 2009 edition of ABC’s World News, reporter Dan Harris told viewers that “critics on the Left say” the Tea Party was not “a real grassroots phenomenon at all, that it’s actually largely orchestrated by people fronting for corporate interests.”

But when labor unions started joining the OWS protests, reporters didn’t greet that information with jaundiced skepticism of a movement being taken over by well-funded, well-heeled union organizers, but treated it as recognition of the growing respect and influence they were gaining.

On the October 5 Today show, Mara Schiavocampo alerted viewers that on “Tuesday, several labor unions, including transit workers and teachers, joined activists for a march to Wall Street. Today they plan to join protesters in what could be their largest event yet, a rally and march in lower Manhattan.” In the very next sentence the NBC correspondent was careful to remind her viewers: “The grassroots movement has no official leaders.”

The tea party had no officials leaders at the start either, though groups did get more organized and select people to speak for them as time went on.

MRC continues:

Despite hundreds of arrests, the media have painted the Occupy Wall Street crowd as friendly, genial, even industrious folk who started their own newspapers, and taught Yoga classes to pass the time.
In contrast, the network anchors treated the Tea Party much more harshly, depicting its members as violent, racial slur hurling thugs.
In the media’s coverage of the Wall Street occupiers and Tea Partiers, a clear tale of two different protests is seen. One that grew out of concern for out-of-control government spending was initially ignored and treated to catcalls of racism and thuggery by ABC, CBS and NBC. The other, a leftist movement screaming for an even more expansive government, that actually resulted in hundreds of arrests, was greeted by the Big Three networks with a tidal wave of coverage full of friendly talking heads.

Then there is the issue of race. Tea party groups were routinely criticized as being non-inclusive without minorities involved. The NAACP even went so far as to issue a call for "the tea party and all people of good will to repudiate the racist element and activities within the tea party." The claim, however, was widely disputed by the tea parties as well as minorities participating, including individuals like Kevin Jackson, president of the Black Conservative Coalition. But the description, repeated so often, has stuck with those who are not involved with the tea party groups.

However, despite the fact that OWS had to form a 'people of color' committee to try to attract more minorities to their effort (as their minutes show), no such examination of the racial makeup of their group has been done.

I did see an online discussion about the lack of minorities in some photographs, but it was quickly pointed out by Occupy supporters that the racial makeup of the subjects in the pictures was roughly the same as the percentages they represent in the population. No such 'justification' was ever granted to the tea parties, despite the same being true.

The last similarity I want to highlight is the 'infiltration' charge. Tea party attendees claimed (and there was some online evidence that the claims were true) that many of the more extreme and bizarre signs at their rallies were from infiltrators who came out to try and make the protesters look bad. Clearly, the Lyndon LaRouche people amongst the tea parties are a good example. And the reaction of tea party members to those individuals (including saying they didn't represent the group) should demonstrate that the 'infiltrator' wasn't truly representative of the group as a whole.

But the occupiers can make no such claims. They do claim that they are being 'infiltrated' by others who want them to look bad, but again, if that claim by the tea party protesters was invalid, surely the occupiers' claim must be treated as invalid as well.

But the Occupy groups say that all are welcome. They encourage anyone and everyone (except the evil 1%) to join with them. They have 'tolerance' for positions they, individually, might not condone and they embrace the 'right' of others to have such extreme positions.

You cannot welcome all, tolerate extreme opinions and then claim you're being 'infiltrated.' That's not logical - either all are welcome, or they're not. They can't be 'infiltrators' if they're welcomed into the group.

As a result of not objecting, the Occupy groups are seen as accepting - and even agreeing with - the extreme messages and positions. Perhaps, once they reach consensus on their demands, this may change. My prediction is that the belief that all views must be 'tolerated' will result in them being labeled and identified by those extreme views. And, like the perception that the tea parties are racist, the perception of the Occupy groups as extreme, left-wing 'crazies' may be too much to overcome.

We may find, once they agree on their demands, that they are indeed, extreme. But in the meantime, the double standards applied to and by the participants will turn off many 'average Americans' and hurt their efforts in the long run.

Double standards = hypocrisy.


And if you really want to see something hypocritical, take a look at the second to last picture in this story. It's of OWS protesters huddling under a Bank of America AMT roof to get out of the rain.

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