This week, Michael Moore expressed the suspicion out loud that many of us had on our minds and felt in our guts: that the weirdly synchronous wave of extremely authoritarian and brutal police evictions of numerous Occupy encampments (including Occupy Wall Street) had been coordinated by the Feds, perhaps via the Department of Homeland Security. Moore made these accusations before there was even flimsy evidence to verify it and then pointed to a strange, blind-sourced article on Examiner.com, a citizen journalism outfit owned by conservatives. Cable television news personality, Keith Olbermann, whose political function is akin to Moore’s, echoed these suspicions on his program.
Now in doing this, Moore, who no doubt meant well, performed some very useful services to the Obama Administration and the Democratic Party. One, by making accusations in his usual reckless style, without any verification, he became a public catalyst for villifying the idea of Federal complicity itself. By eventually pointing to a conservative website, he associated these suspicions with Koch-like disinformation stunts, further discrediting them. For a good example of how this played out, see Mediaite’s disgusting, smearish Michael Moore Goes The Full Wingnut On President Obama Over Occupy ‘Crackdown’.
But, most importantly, by making the accusation, Moore set a much higher than necessary bar for implicating and condemning Obama and Federal agencies. There is no need of a smoking gun tracing these crackdowns back to Homeland Security. The Federal government may not have initiated it but by virtue of taking no action at all – not even a press conference – in the midst of grotesque acts of police brutality and Constitutional violation, the Obama Administration must certainly be seen as condoning it. There is also the Democratic Party affiliation of most of the crackdown mayors, including, significantly, Rahm Emanuele who, until last year, was Obama’s chief-of-staff.
Search online for even the most tepid condemnation of police brutality from Obama or any Federal authority and you will search in vain. You will not find even insincere solidarity with, or sympathy for, the brave students of UC Davis, famously pepper-sprayed by a cop during a peaceful protest over tuition hikes. All but a few Occupy camps are shut down. Obama has chosen sides. Unsurprisingly, the recipient of more ill-gotten Wall Street loot than all other candidates combined, has not chosen Occupy. Anything he might say now is too late. He owns these crackdowns.
Obama’s award-winning brand appeals quite toxically to white liberals’ vanity and their tendency to ignore what black people actually say. It appeals to black people’s quite understandable desire to be respected and enfranchised. Consequently, he has an almost supernatural ability to make liberals more gullible and unprincipled than they are normally. This means that we who attempt to point out the obvious – that Obama is extending and institutionalizing everything that seemed horribly new under Bush – must invariably trot out substitution analysis to make our point. So here goes:
Imagine Bush is president. During one week, over a dozen encampments protesting finance sector/government collusion are violently closed down by order of mayors. One of these mayors frankly discloses to the BBC that she had participated in a conference call about the crackdowns with 18 other mayors, the majority of whom are members of the President’s party. Imagine that the mayor of Chicago was Karl Rove. At this point would it matter to anyone liberal and to the left whether or not a line of responsibility could be traced to Bush? Would they not assume that obviously he was implicated if only by virtue of party affiliation and, if not, by virtue of not repudiating what was happening? Would they not also be calling on the media to look more deeply into those conference calls and what role, if any, DHS played? Would they not be denouncing Mediaite-like attempts to smear skeptics?
Now the problem with this substitution analysis, is that, confronted with the same situation, Bush would not have concealed his involvement, because Bush serves a different kind of oligarch, fortified by a different sort of base. The Bush brand has no interest in co-opting Occupy. Metamorphosing dissent into more theft and more war is the specialty of the Democrats and they are extremely good at it. Therefore, it is very interesting that when mass opposition to these crackdowns peaked, Democrats, using their proxies in organized labor and education, attempted to co-opt movement anger via a shameless grab during the N17 protests. Taken together, the crackdowns and the attempted co-opting seem a very deliberate one-two punch aimed at cleansing the movement of its radical tendencies and getting at least its periphery in bed with the Democrats.
This co-opting by liberals of Occupy has been going on for a while now, at least here in New York. It’s not remarked upon much, because most of the people writing about Occupy and speaking for it in public media are liberals themselves, who are not reliable witnesses. Let this revoltingly presumptuous Twitter tweet from Richard Kim, executive editor for The Nation – heat vampire magazine par excellence – speak for itself:
The extent to which rich, Ivy League riff-raff like the people who run the Nation are influencing the Occupy movement in New York merits a blog post in itself. Suffice it to say that, as mediated by a largely confused and distressed media, a movement that began as a bullshit call on just about everything is hardening into something vastly more conventional and liberal despite the high stakes created by police. In other words, Richard Kim and Co are trying to do what they always do, which is make dissenters available for bribes, or a mirage of bribes, rather than promoting something that will disrupt the whole filthy business, including the longstanding complicity of charlatans like Richard Kim and his colleagues.
In light of the crackdowns, the prevailing agnosticism about Obama and the Democrats within Occupy Wall Street is no longer tenable, if it ever was. He and his party have stood by while police rioted against peaceful protesters, under the direction of mostly Democratic mayors, including Obama’ s former chief of staff. These crackdowns are literally the physical antithesis of the movement’s most basic claim. Obama’s silence must therefore be seen for the complicity that it is. Occupy must repudiate and renounce him. Those who refuse to do so must be renounced and repudiated also, along with their attempt at turning this movement into a shallow bid for illusory entitlements that would keep state power just as it is. Let them serve kleptocracy, prisons and war under their own auspices. It’s what they’re good at.