Rolling Stone might be a liberal rag that spends more time bashing Republicans than chronicling Rock and Roll, but I still buy it from time to time. Why? Because of stories like Welcome to the Occupation, by Jeff Sharlet. Only a liberal magazine could get someone deep enough into a hive of anarchists and screwballs to accurately convey for the world that their minds are filled with beeswax. In all honesty, it’s a great bit of reporting, covering Occupy Wall Street from its inception until the present day.
The problem for Rolling Stone is that the best efforts to portray the movement in a positive light can’t hide the utter weirdness of those closest to it.
“Twice I woke up. Once when a squat woman with dreads down to her knees shuffled by with a broom…and a second time when a deranged man, top-heavy like a bulldog, punched the air above my head, daring anyone to take a shot at him. The occupation’s security, thin-limbed men with walkie-talkies, spread their arms out like birds and surrounded him. “We love you, man,” they said, over and over, containing but never touching. Finally he fled; the scene was too strange for the conventional crazy.”
It’s that sort of thing that makes me want to take off for New York to experience something equally as bizarre. Since I have bills to pay, I’ll get over it and ask myself who’s behind it all. Again, Jeff Sharlet supplies the answer. It turns out that David Graeber, “a 50 year old anthropologist and anarchist whose teaching gig at Yale was not renewed…” was one of the brainchildren of the Occupy Wall Street movement. Along the way he also met up with “Greek anarchist organizer” Georgia Sagri.
One word: Telling.
Welcome To The Occupation is a treasure trove of material for the occupation’s detractors. Just as I can read a bad review by certain critics and know that the movie is going to be great (e.g., any bad review for 300), a positively-spun article on any liberal movement is one that, if shown to your average American, would have them in the voting both going conservative. After reading the piece I feel like one of The Goonies, rummaging through more gold than I can handle. I might have to do a follow up post for the first time in this blog’s history…
Take, for instance, this bit:
There’s a library with some 4,500 cataloged volumes—everything from the Communist Manifesto to He’s Just Not That Into You—an all-volunteer medical staff to provide free health care, a station that gives out hand-rolled cigarettes if you want them.
Questions abound, like: How many copies of the Constitution can be found in this library? How many more copies of The Communist Manifesto are there than the Constitution? Where are the political hacks who blamed Sarah Palin for the Rep. Giffords tragedy now that we know the Occupy Wall Street movement and Giffords’ shooter are both fans of The Communist Manifesto? How fun would it be to deconstruct the mindset of the guy who wants “free” health care AND “free” cigarettes? Perhaps he could smoke a free cigarette as a free doctor tells him why he’s got that nasty cough and shortness of breath…
Since no one likes blog posts that read like an encyclopedia (or the ramblings of an Occupy Wall Street junkie?), I’ll quote the author’s favorite sign from Liberty Plaza, as I too have grown fond of it. Nothing better frames the Occupy Wall Street movement better than the 99 percenter who dug down deep, channeled his inner Patrick Henry, and scribbled across his cardboard sign: “Alligator Fuck Housed Me.”
“Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and alligator fuck houses? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!” (Patrick Henry).
Here! Here! Newt Gingrich can learn a few things if he wanders down to Zuccotti Park. If he was truly a student of history, as he claims, he would have referenced this line by now.