by Paul Goldman
The “anti-Semitism” charge, in one form or another, against Occupy Wall Street is making its way through the political grapevine. In my reading of history, the usual MO on such things is for the charge to made not so much as a provable statement right now, but to lay the ground work for a full-on attack in the future in a coordinated way as events transpire.
Needless to say, should this charge prove either true, or become part of the accepted “folklore” of the OWS saga, this would be hugely damaging…to Democrats. This is true even though OWS is not a fan of either major political party given both their rhetoric and their policies.
But there are those pushing Democrats at all levels to “identify” with OWS in terms of the 2012 election. As a matter of pure politics – 200% proof strategy as they say, put any policy position aside for this analysis – these kinds of protest movements tend, in the end, to alienate middle of the road swing voters given the way the chess board generally plays out.
The reason: in politics, it is impossible to disprove a negative, so that makes it easier for commentators and others with an anti-OWS agenda to raise, for example, the issue of anti-Semitism.
In other words: I want you to disprove that you aren’t an anti-Semite. As you can see, this is a very clever way to phrase the issue, because the questioner is not claiming he or she has proof of your alleged bigotry. Rather, they shift the burden of proof to you: prove you aren’t. This was basically how the King did it before the Revolution, the fifth Amendment, you get the drift.
If you noodle on it for awhile, you realize nothing you can say disproves the charge. Richard Nixon mastered this technique as have other politicians over the years.
It is particularly effective if you can make your charge in the context of it having some factual credence. From what I can tell, some involved at some level with the OWS protests have made anti-Semitic statements or at least their expressions raise such a legitimate inference.
Whenever the discussion comes down to finance, Wall Street, New York City, and the basic economic charges raised by OWS, it is very dicey terrain that requires careful us of words and the like, that is just a fact of life.
Given the mood of the country, and the way liberals and conservatives are using the Internet/cable shows and related venues to keep everyone’s nerves rubbed raw, we are pushing the whole country to the edge. Listen to the cable shows: both sides are moving toward the edge, and that is the plain truth, with no net below.
Each side thinks they are right and also they are being badly wronged by their opponents. This is not to say all things are equal. But in politics, such factual distinctions are easily lost in the heat of battle.
This means people increasingly feel victims and thus justified in thinking the ends justifies the means. History suggests this often leads to social Darwinism, as the sense of community is a leading casualty. We see this happening now.
Frankly, I have not paid much if any attention to OWS or the Tea Party either, concentrating instead on trying to help Senators Webb and Warner, and Congressman Cantor and Governor McDonnell – that’s right, some real bipartisanship – in hopes of convincing the President to back their school modernization bill which do precisely what the President said America desperately needed to do, find a way to modernize our oldest schools, now averaging over 50 year of age, built for different kind of curriculum, holding back especially the poorest kids in America.
As the Democratic Platform of 2008 said, the country’s that out-educate us today will out compete us tomorrow.
I recently got the State Education Department to admit to the true nature of learning in our VA schools, the Pentagon says 30% of high school graduates can’t even do 10th grade work, and a recent state report found more than half the recent high school graduates enrolled in community college couldn’t do first year work without remedial help.
Modernized K-12 schools isn’t a magic bullet or anything of the sort. But it is a necessary ingredient to America’s comeback, it is something the federal government shouldn’t be blocking as the Webb/Warner/Cantor shows is the effect of an ill-conceived IRS rule driving up by 33% the cost of modernizing the old schools of Virginia, and frankly we can do this, we can work together to change the IRS code back to what conservative and liberals agreed relative to schools in 1986, get rid of this IRS rule, and maybe, just maybe, find it feels good to get things done for a change not just make noise.
To those who say both sides are not equally culpable for the current political mood, I repeat: read the polls, the public just wants results.
Bottom line: Any hint of anti-Semitism is unacceptable, as is any hint of anti-Mormonism in the GOP, go down the list.
OWS had best realize the charge of anti-Semitism is one they need to address, for once it takes root, perception becomes reality, and it burns everyone who touches it, fair or not.