You’ve probably noticed that our government and corporate-owned media treat the Occupy Movement differently from the Tea Party.
Think back to how some Tea Partiers brought guns to their protests, where some protesters even suggested killing President Obama. They weren’t pepper-sprayed. They weren’t bashed in the head, and they weren’t even told to take their guns home.
I’m glad police didn’t stomp on the Tea Party. Even ill-informed, inane, racist protests should be permitted. The problem is that the First Amendment prohibits the government from choosing which protests it allows. Unfortunately, the government doesn’t seem to understand that.
Why such different treatment? Some people say it’s because the Tea Party didn’t camp out. But does camping and building a library (which, in a move reminiscent of the National Socialists in 1930’s Germany, the NYPD destroyed) and chanting and sitting-in merit more government attention than armed people threatening violence against the President?
An even more disturbing difference is that the Department of Homeland Security — which is supposed to use its broad powers to protect us from terrorism — may have helped coordinate a national crackdown on the Occupiers’ nonviolent protest. The Occupiers pitch tents, not grenades. They hang expressive signs on buildings – they don’t pilot airliners into them. The Occupy movement shouldn’t even appear on the DHS radar screen.
The mainstream media are similarly “fair and balanced.” The Occupy Movement is widely criticized (as if according to talking points) as lacking a “clear message.” There was no real criticism, however, of the Tea Party’s cacophony of self-contradictory idiocy. Obama is a fascist and a socialist! This Big Business-friendly President is “a Communist”! Well, where’s my share of the bailout, comrade?
Mainstream media wondered when the movement will be “over” and suggested it would end when temperatures drop. The Tea Party, which had no encampments, no library, and just a few short protests, was never seen as having an end; it’s been elevated to the status of a political party.
Remember how, after Obama was elected in late 2008, right wingers, believing Obama opposed gun rights, stocked up on guns and ammunition, as if arming themselves for revolution, or a race war? It was reported as just another interesting story. What would happen if Occupiers armed themselves?
The media would report it as foreboding a revolution. Pundits would muse that “we have too many gun rights.” There would be calls for a screening process for dealers. Gun dealers would discriminate. The Occupy Movement would be designated a terror group – as it just was in London.
Or (perhaps more likely) gun rights would go untouched — the government probably would just shoot Occupiers, as Ann Coulter has suggested.
Recall last January, when Jared Loughner shot Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) and killed several others, including a federal judge. The government and mainstream media seemed to dismiss the idea that Sarah Palin’s targeting Giffords on a map of Congressional districts — with a gunsight — could have motivated Loughner. The media made it seem as if it were impossible to determine whether Loughner was politically left or right.
But what would happen if someone shot a Republican? Politicians and pundits would assert that the shooter, even if he’d never actually rallied or camped with the Occupy Movement, was “influenced” by its “dangerous rhetoric,” no matter how vague. The Occupy Movement would be declared a terrorist group.
The Giffords shooting isn’t the only violence by right-wingers. Death threats were made, and bricks were thrown through the windows of, several Congressional supporters of Obamacare — little media or government attention was paid. But imagine if Republicans received death threats?
A lesson to be drawn from all this is that, unequivocally, we have a right wing government that’s supported by right wing media. (Can we finally declare dead the myth of the liberal media?) If you’re right wing, you can protest all you like, in any way you like – apparently, the only way for you to get arrested is if you actually gun down a Member of Congress.
But if you oppose the right wing government, even nonviolently, well, you’re dangerous.
BRIAN J. FOLEY is a law professor, comedian, and author of A New Financial You in 28 Days! A 37-Day Plan (Gegensatz Press 2011).