Commentary Magazine


Topic: Occupy Wall Street

Occupy AIPAC Next Step for Leftist Group

Many Jewish liberals have been in denial about the anti-Israel and often anti-Semitic tone of much of the Occupy Wall Street movement since its inception. As our colleague Jonathan Neumann wrote in the January issue of COMMENTARY, the leftist hatred for Israel is thoroughly integrated into the Occupy worldview even though some mainstream sympathizers with the movement would prefer to ignore it. But their tolerance for the way this virus has attached itself to a movement that is supposedly about “social justice” will soon be put to the test again.

The so-called U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation is organizing an Occupy AIPAC event set to coincide with the annual national conference in Washington, D.C. of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee in March. The group, an anti-Zionist organization dedicated to promoting boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) on Israel is hoping to piggyback on the popularity of the Occupy movement to try to sabotage or at least overshadow the AIPAC event. Though the odds are, it will fail, as most such anti-Israel efforts generally do, the manner with which this BDS group has commandeered the Occupy brand name ought to alert liberals to the direction the movement is headed with respect to Israel and the Jews.

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Many Jewish liberals have been in denial about the anti-Israel and often anti-Semitic tone of much of the Occupy Wall Street movement since its inception. As our colleague Jonathan Neumann wrote in the January issue of COMMENTARY, the leftist hatred for Israel is thoroughly integrated into the Occupy worldview even though some mainstream sympathizers with the movement would prefer to ignore it. But their tolerance for the way this virus has attached itself to a movement that is supposedly about “social justice” will soon be put to the test again.

The so-called U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation is organizing an Occupy AIPAC event set to coincide with the annual national conference in Washington, D.C. of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee in March. The group, an anti-Zionist organization dedicated to promoting boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) on Israel is hoping to piggyback on the popularity of the Occupy movement to try to sabotage or at least overshadow the AIPAC event. Though the odds are, it will fail, as most such anti-Israel efforts generally do, the manner with which this BDS group has commandeered the Occupy brand name ought to alert liberals to the direction the movement is headed with respect to Israel and the Jews.

Anti-Israel protests at AIPAC are nothing new but the way the BDS coalition has neatly appropriated the slogans and the spirit of the movement praised by Obama could give these outliers a bit more prominence and a more respectful hearing in a mainstream press that has bent over backwards to excuse the excesses of the occupiers.

Even more importantly, the identification of this viciously anti-Zionist group with the mainstream of the Occupy movement ought to shock get the attention of liberals who have refused to acknowledge the connection between the hard left and anti-Semitism. As Neumann points out in his article, far from being a marginal phenomenon, the link between the neo-Marxism of the occupiers and the BDS crowd is far from tenuous. The occupiers and the Israel-haters are natural allies. The only question is when, if ever, are mainstream Jewish liberals who want nothing to do with the Occupy AIPAC leftists going to face up to the fact that there is no distance between this group and the rest of the Occupy mob.

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Americans Not Particularly Worried About Income Inequality

The Heritage Foundation’s Lachlan Markey draws attention to an interesting stat from a recent Gallup poll that measured the economic concerns of Americans:

Gallup reports that only 2 percent of Americans list the “divide between rich and poor” as the most important economic issue facing the country. Those findings come from an open-ended survey, meaning respondents were not confined to a pre-selected group of responses. Unemployment and the national debt top the list, but all told, a full 17 economic issues rank higher in the American political consciousness than income inequality.

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The Heritage Foundation’s Lachlan Markey draws attention to an interesting stat from a recent Gallup poll that measured the economic concerns of Americans:

Gallup reports that only 2 percent of Americans list the “divide between rich and poor” as the most important economic issue facing the country. Those findings come from an open-ended survey, meaning respondents were not confined to a pre-selected group of responses. Unemployment and the national debt top the list, but all told, a full 17 economic issues rank higher in the American political consciousness than income inequality.

Progressives had high hopes the Occupy Wall Street movement was going to turn “income inequality” – a largely mythical concept in the U.S. – into a major national concern. As the poll shows, OWS hasn’t had much success here. At the same time, there are plenty of conservative issues, like taxes and entitlement programs, that also rank low on the list of American worries.

It’s not necessarily that the public doesn’t care about these issues. It’s just that the concerns about unemployment eclipse them. According to the poll, jobs are the foremost worry for Americans at 26 percent, followed by the national debt at 16 percent. Which means President Obama’s class warfare rhetoric won’t help him appeal to many voters, unless he pegs it to job creation and deficit reduction.

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One OWS Documentary the Left Won’t Want to See

Justin Elliott has the scoop on a new Occupy Wall Street documentary currently being produced by Citizens United. The filming is reportedly wrapping up this week, which means this could be released fairly soon. Just in time for the Conservative Political Action Conference in early February, maybe?

The new film is to be called “Mic Check: The Untold Story of the Occupy Movement.” A participant at Occupy Wall Street recently received an interview request from a Citizens United producer that included this description of the film:

“…In Mic Check: The Untold Story of the Occupy Movement, we’ll look at the roots of the Occupy movement and hear from its undeclared ‘leaders.’ We’ll go inside the still existing encampments in Los Angeles and Washington, D.C., into the frequently contentious street rallies and hear from participants about their protest, their goals and their vision for the future.”

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Justin Elliott has the scoop on a new Occupy Wall Street documentary currently being produced by Citizens United. The filming is reportedly wrapping up this week, which means this could be released fairly soon. Just in time for the Conservative Political Action Conference in early February, maybe?

The new film is to be called “Mic Check: The Untold Story of the Occupy Movement.” A participant at Occupy Wall Street recently received an interview request from a Citizens United producer that included this description of the film:

“…In Mic Check: The Untold Story of the Occupy Movement, we’ll look at the roots of the Occupy movement and hear from its undeclared ‘leaders.’ We’ll go inside the still existing encampments in Los Angeles and Washington, D.C., into the frequently contentious street rallies and hear from participants about their protest, their goals and their vision for the future.”

It’s easy to see why conservative groups like Citizens United would try to turn Occupy Wall Street into a presidential campaign issue, especially because Democrats will undoubtedly hammer the GOP with class warfare messages during the general election. For Republicans, tying the Democratic Party to the OWS movement could be one way to combat the attacks without going on the defense. The Occupiers are viewed increasingly negatively by the general public, and there are still plenty of Americans who aren’t aware of the movement. Which means the battle to define OWS will probably be a key part of the election.

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Who is Obama Rooting for Tonight?

On Saturday night following the Republican presidential debate on ABC, a panel discussion broadcast on the network included the startling claim by Democratic talking head Donna Brazile that Mitt Romney’s dominance of the GOP field was “good news” for the Democrats because the frontrunner is “the weakest candidate.” Even ABC host and former Clinton administration official George Stephanopolous openly scoffed at her assertion, but some on the right are echoing her taunt.

Yesterday, Rush Limbaugh agreed with Brazile and went so far as to allege, perhaps humorously, that Stephanopolous’s retort was an attempt to get his fellow Democrat to keep quiet about their party’s secret desire for Romney to be the GOP nominee. Limbaugh has, of course, been quite vocal about Romney’s alleged weakness. He believes the GOP’s nomination of a man identified with Wall Street will help fire up the “occupy” base of the Democratic Party while also causing the conservative grass roots to sit out the general election, allowing Obama to cruise to victory. But while Limbaugh’s views are entitled to the respect due to the pre-eminent voice of the conservative insurgency, I very much doubt the president is delighted with the prospect of a big victory for Romney in New Hampshire tonight.

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On Saturday night following the Republican presidential debate on ABC, a panel discussion broadcast on the network included the startling claim by Democratic talking head Donna Brazile that Mitt Romney’s dominance of the GOP field was “good news” for the Democrats because the frontrunner is “the weakest candidate.” Even ABC host and former Clinton administration official George Stephanopolous openly scoffed at her assertion, but some on the right are echoing her taunt.

Yesterday, Rush Limbaugh agreed with Brazile and went so far as to allege, perhaps humorously, that Stephanopolous’s retort was an attempt to get his fellow Democrat to keep quiet about their party’s secret desire for Romney to be the GOP nominee. Limbaugh has, of course, been quite vocal about Romney’s alleged weakness. He believes the GOP’s nomination of a man identified with Wall Street will help fire up the “occupy” base of the Democratic Party while also causing the conservative grass roots to sit out the general election, allowing Obama to cruise to victory. But while Limbaugh’s views are entitled to the respect due to the pre-eminent voice of the conservative insurgency, I very much doubt the president is delighted with the prospect of a big victory for Romney in New Hampshire tonight.

Limbaugh’s thesis that the Democrats “are not hammering Mitt Romney at all” doesn’t hold water. The Democrat strategy has been to do exactly that the entire campaign. Polls have consistently shown that Romney does the best of the entire Republican candidates against Obama–a result confirmed by the latest CBS survey. Only Romney has the ability to gain the votes of independents and wavering centrist Democrats, groups that will never go for Newt Gingrich or Rick Santorum.

Moreover, the idea that Romney is weak because he is the embodiment of the Occupy Wall Street worldview makes no sense. The occupiers and the left-wing hatred of the free enterprise system they represent are a snare for the Democrats, not the GOP. If Obama sticks with his decision to run to the left in 2012 that may fire up a portion of his disillusioned base, but it will not play well with mainstream America. That will give Romney, whose business expertise is exactly the right resume line for a candidate in the midst of an economic downturn, an opportunity to occupy the center next fall. That is exactly the opposite of what Obama wants.

The president, who will spend much of the coming year ranting about Congress, desperately needs the Republicans to nominate a candidate closely identified with the hard right, not a moderate conservative like Romney whom most Americans think of as a reasonable and pragmatic leader. That this formulation fails to excite conservative activists is understandable but common sense must tell them the objective is, to use the late William F. Buckley’s formula, to nominate the most conservative candidate who can win, not the most conservative candidate.

That means the president and his staff will be watching the New Hampshire results and those in South Carolina next weekend hoping Romney will stumble. Though the talk of the weak GOP field has bred overconfidence in some Democrats (among whose number Brazile might be counted), the prospect of a well-funded Republican who can appeal to the center is not something they should be happy about. Mitt Romney has his flaws, but neither the president nor his fan base is rooting for him to be the Republican standard-bearer.

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Ron Paul: Where Left Meets Right

It has long been apparent that Ron Paul’s isolationist foreign policy has far more to do with the agenda of the anti-American left than anything resembling the ideas conservatives support. But, surprisingly, that confluence of far left and far right may also apply to his domestic concerns. As the Weekly Standard’s John McCormack reports, yesterday Paul threw a bouquet to the Occupy Wall Street movement and even compared it favorably with the Tea Party.

According to Paul, both the Tea Party and the Occupiers are citizens upset with the status quo, seek to overturn the political establishment and have far more in common than they suspect. This is, of course, nonsense. The Tea Party is about individual responsibility (remember, it started over mortgage defaulters having their bills paid by other citizens who pay their way) while Occupy is about entitlement and envy. They only look like the same thing if you are, like Paul, someone who is so obsessed with things like the Federal Reserve and opposing the defense of American interests and values abroad, that you lose perspective about how we can defend the freedom he says he believes in so deeply.

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It has long been apparent that Ron Paul’s isolationist foreign policy has far more to do with the agenda of the anti-American left than anything resembling the ideas conservatives support. But, surprisingly, that confluence of far left and far right may also apply to his domestic concerns. As the Weekly Standard’s John McCormack reports, yesterday Paul threw a bouquet to the Occupy Wall Street movement and even compared it favorably with the Tea Party.

According to Paul, both the Tea Party and the Occupiers are citizens upset with the status quo, seek to overturn the political establishment and have far more in common than they suspect. This is, of course, nonsense. The Tea Party is about individual responsibility (remember, it started over mortgage defaulters having their bills paid by other citizens who pay their way) while Occupy is about entitlement and envy. They only look like the same thing if you are, like Paul, someone who is so obsessed with things like the Federal Reserve and opposing the defense of American interests and values abroad, that you lose perspective about how we can defend the freedom he says he believes in so deeply.

The point here is not just that Paul is far removed from the Republican mainstream though, of course, he is. Every poll shows the group he does most poorly with is registered Republicans. His bow to the Occupy Wall Street crowd makes sense, because left-wingers are far more likely to view him favorably than Republicans, even those with libertarian leanings. While some in the GOP share his instinctive distrust of government, Paul’s all-purpose extremism is easy to understand, because as far as he is concerned, there is really no difference between his rationalizing the Taliban and Iran and his sympathy for the neo-Marxist Occupiers. As Paul said:

I think some people like to paint Occupy left and the Tea Party people right, but I think it makes my point. There’s a lot of people unhappy, and they’re not so happy with the two party system because we have had people go in and out of office, Congress changes, the presidency changes, they run on one thing, they do something else. Nothing ever changes. And I sort of like it because I make the point that if you’re a Republican or Democrat the foreign policy doesn’t really change, even though there’s a strong Republican tradition of the foreign policy I’ve been talking about where we don’t get involved in policing the world. Does the monetary policy change? Do they really care about reining in the Fed? Would the Fed bail out all these countries around the world? More and more people know that now. But monetary policy doesn’t change.

Far from representing the values of conservative Tea Partiers who respect the Constitution, Paul’s obsessive hatred for the institutions of government and America’s place in the world is the antithesis of their world view.

The nexus of the far right and the far left has always been a dangerous place where extremists of all kinds, including racists and anti-Semites, linger. So it’s no surprise that Paul has pandered to these groups with his newsletters as well as his isolationism and conspiracy theories about 9/11. While he may be enjoying a momentary surge in Iowa, his politics of destruction are part of a long-failed tradition of populist extremism that has little appeal to most Republicans or mainstream America.

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Occupy Cleanup Costs and L.A. Budget Cuts

Occupy L.A. is long gone, but the cleanup bill is coming due for taxpayers. And not just taxpayers in Los Angeles. The stimulus measures that President Obama has been pushing would send money to cash-strapped cities like L.A., in order to avert police and teacher layoffs. And the cost of the protest eviction and cleanup will likely result in more city budget cuts, according to Mayor Villaraigosa:

Repairs to City Hall’s lawn where the Occupy group set up camp on Oct. 1 will require an estimated $400,000. The police action to clear out the encampment on Nov. 30 cost more than $700,000.

Additional expenses are attributed to hauling away debris from the camp, and cleaning up graffiti that defaced City Hall marble walls and trees.

Mayor Villaraigosa says more budget cuts will be necessary to offset the costs.

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Occupy L.A. is long gone, but the cleanup bill is coming due for taxpayers. And not just taxpayers in Los Angeles. The stimulus measures that President Obama has been pushing would send money to cash-strapped cities like L.A., in order to avert police and teacher layoffs. And the cost of the protest eviction and cleanup will likely result in more city budget cuts, according to Mayor Villaraigosa:

Repairs to City Hall’s lawn where the Occupy group set up camp on Oct. 1 will require an estimated $400,000. The police action to clear out the encampment on Nov. 30 cost more than $700,000.

Additional expenses are attributed to hauling away debris from the camp, and cleaning up graffiti that defaced City Hall marble walls and trees.

Mayor Villaraigosa says more budget cuts will be necessary to offset the costs.

L.A. Weekly rightly notes the budget cuts could create an interesting dilemma for the labor unions, which have been major supporters of the Occupy movement but also tend to be the loudest protesters of any budget cuts. Will the unions side with the Occupiers? Or will they break with them and criticize the city’s purse-string-tightening? Or maybe both – I can actually imagine the OWS activists being clueless enough to protest the L.A. budget cuts that they’re responsible for.

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“Haves” vs. “Have Nots”

Despite the best efforts of President Obama and the Occupy Wall Street movement to pit the so-called “99 percent” against the “1 percent,” Americans are increasingly rejecting the idea that the country is divided into “haves” and “have nots.” Gallup reports the percentage of Americans who believe this has dropped significantly since 2008, especially among independents and moderates:

Americans are now less likely to see U.S. society as divided into the “haves” and “have nots” than they were in 2008, returning to their views prior to that point. A clear majority, 58 percent, say they do not think of America in this way, after Americans were divided 49 percent to 49 percent in the summer of 2008.

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Despite the best efforts of President Obama and the Occupy Wall Street movement to pit the so-called “99 percent” against the “1 percent,” Americans are increasingly rejecting the idea that the country is divided into “haves” and “have nots.” Gallup reports the percentage of Americans who believe this has dropped significantly since 2008, especially among independents and moderates:

Americans are now less likely to see U.S. society as divided into the “haves” and “have nots” than they were in 2008, returning to their views prior to that point. A clear majority, 58 percent, say they do not think of America in this way, after Americans were divided 49 percent to 49 percent in the summer of 2008.

As Gallup notes, this is despite the economic downturn, the rising unemployment rate and the increasing pessimism about the direction of the country. When asked to choose which of the categories they see themselves in, a clear majority of Americans also say they are “haves” as opposed to “have nots”:

If they had to choose, 58 percent of Americans would say they are in the “haves,” rather than the “have nots” group. This breakdown has held remarkably steady over the past two decades of economic boom and bust, with a record-high 67 percent of Americans putting themselves in the “haves” category during the strong economic times of the late 1990s.

This is a pretty significant blow to the Occupy movement, and helps explain why the protests never caught fire with the general public. Americans just don’t accept the idea that the 1 percent is taking advantage of the 99 percent. In fact, nearly 60 percent of Americans, when forced to choose, would categorize themselves as the people of privilege. This number has remained fairly steady since 1989, though it rose to a height of 67 percent during the economic boom in the late ‘90s.

The one area to be concerned about is the growing number of people who categorize themselves as “have nots.” In 1989, just 17 percent of Americans put themselves in that group. That’s steadily increased during the years, and now hovers around 34 percent. This is in spite of the explosion of federal spending on entitlement programs, and if the trend continues, it will become more and more difficult to make reductions in these areas.

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How Politically Toxic is OWS?

How politically toxic has Occupy Wall Street become? So toxic that even the Congressional Progressive Caucus – led by Reps. Keith Ellison and Raul Gijalva – is too nervous to be seen with it.

Roll Call reports the CPC had a private meeting scheduled with OWS activists this week, which was promptly canceled once the newspaper started inquiring about it:

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How politically toxic has Occupy Wall Street become? So toxic that even the Congressional Progressive Caucus – led by Reps. Keith Ellison and Raul Gijalva – is too nervous to be seen with it.

Roll Call reports the CPC had a private meeting scheduled with OWS activists this week, which was promptly canceled once the newspaper started inquiring about it:

A planned meeting today between the Congressional Progressive Caucus and Occupy Wall Street activists was scuttled late Tuesday after Roll Call inquired about it, highlighting increasing tensions between Democrats and the movement.

While Democrats are adopting the movement’s “99 percent” language, they are increasingly retreating from the protesters themselves and their anti-capitalist rhetoric. Some in the party view the Occupy activists — camped out in grubby tent cities around the country — as a potential liability in 2012.

Whatever the point of the meeting was, somebody in the CPC obviously wanted to foil it for some reason. And the caucus was clearly anxious to keep the event hidden from the press:

A spokesman for the caucus declined to comment on the circumstances that led to the cancellation of the meeting, but an email sent to CPC members from the group’s executive director, Brad Bauman, blamed a leak for the last-minute change.

“Due to a leak from within the caucus, press were alerted to our Occupy guests this week,” he wrote in an email obtained by Roll Call. “Our guests will now not be participating in the member meeting. … All internal communications are OFF THE RECORD.”

Based on the story, it sounds like the meeting was set up so the CPC could privately assure OWS it was hearing its grievances. If that’s the case, the CPC could have just set back its relationship with the liberal base tremendously by throwing the movement under the bus.

The secrecy is the strangest thing about this story. Democrats have known for awhile that OWS is a liability, but it’s still odd that that would deter the far-left members of the CPC from meeting with its activists. After all, these people are their constituents. What are we missing here?

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Rants and Hypertextual Deception

A few days ago, the graphic novelist Frank Miller lost patience with the Occupy Movement supported by a thousand of his literary peers. Writing on his blog, Miller called the occupiers

nothing but a pack of louts, thieves, and rapists, an unruly mob, fed by Woodstock-era nostalgia and putrid false righteousness. These clowns can do nothing but harm America.

Absorbed with their “self-pity” and “narcissism,” the Occupy Movement had ignored the real threat to America — the “ruthless enemy” that fights under the names al-Qaeda and “Islamicism.”

The outrage was immediate and explosive. The Guardian reported that his “rant” had alienated Miller’s fans. The New York Observer agreed that the “vitriolic rant” was “not well-received.”

Nearly everybody agreed that Miller had written a rant. Richard Metzger of Dangerous Minds said it was an “idiotic, reactionary rant.” Miller was bidding to “become the Al Capp of his generation,” he added, by venting his “cranky, bitter, reactionary ‘opinions’ (if you can call them that).” (The political opponents of the literary left do not really have “opinions,” I guess. They must only have superstitions or irritable mental gestures or something.) It was a “strange rant,” it was a “bilious rant,” it was a “ridiculous rant.” Ah, the refreshing diversity of opinion on the literary left!

Miller’s readers threatened a boycott. The Guardian was quick to tut-tut that Miller’s politics (love of freedom, commitment to justice, aversion to anarchy, hatred for totalitarianism) added up to “mixed messages.” The comic-book writer Mark Millar warned against the “cyber-mob mentality” that was engulfing any discussion of Miller and his work, but few people seemed to be listening.

Meanwhile, another writer with a wide and enthusiastic following had delivered a controversial political judgment a few days earlier and almost no one had noticed. China Miéville, the British fantasy novelist who writes self-described “weird fiction,” posted on his blog a deadpan reaction to the release of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit after five years in Hamas captivity:

     Gilad Schalit is showing signs of malnutrition. What have his captors done to him? Such shocking revelations must mean fresh scrutiny of those who have held him.
     How could it not? What kind of power, after all, would deliberately starve even the youngest captives, according to chillingly cynical calorifico-political calculation, as a matter of publicly stated policy?

I have reproduced Miéville’s entire post, including each of his hypertext links, so that you don’t have to click over to his blog. By a sly use of hypertext, Miéville is able to imply, without bothering to say outright, that the state of Israel has the deliberate policy of starving the children of Gaza. You might think that such a monstrous charge might deserve a full explanation and defense. You would be wrong. Miéville resorts to hypertext to do the hard work of argument. He wants to leave the impression, unsubstantiated but unshakable, that the Jewish state is exactly the same as the Islamic terrorists of Hamas, and Gilad Shalit got nothing less than what he deserved.

I won’t hold my breath for the outrage or threats of boycott. This much might be said, however. To “rant” is to display moral courage; it is to risk being held publicly accountable for direct and unsparing statement. China Miéville is a literary coward who hides behind hypertextual cleverness to avoid taking ownership of his political opinions. Susan Sontag once lamented that the camera can lie. To the artist’s bag of lying devices can now be added hypertext.

Give me an honest rant any day.

A few days ago, the graphic novelist Frank Miller lost patience with the Occupy Movement supported by a thousand of his literary peers. Writing on his blog, Miller called the occupiers

nothing but a pack of louts, thieves, and rapists, an unruly mob, fed by Woodstock-era nostalgia and putrid false righteousness. These clowns can do nothing but harm America.

Absorbed with their “self-pity” and “narcissism,” the Occupy Movement had ignored the real threat to America — the “ruthless enemy” that fights under the names al-Qaeda and “Islamicism.”

The outrage was immediate and explosive. The Guardian reported that his “rant” had alienated Miller’s fans. The New York Observer agreed that the “vitriolic rant” was “not well-received.”

Nearly everybody agreed that Miller had written a rant. Richard Metzger of Dangerous Minds said it was an “idiotic, reactionary rant.” Miller was bidding to “become the Al Capp of his generation,” he added, by venting his “cranky, bitter, reactionary ‘opinions’ (if you can call them that).” (The political opponents of the literary left do not really have “opinions,” I guess. They must only have superstitions or irritable mental gestures or something.) It was a “strange rant,” it was a “bilious rant,” it was a “ridiculous rant.” Ah, the refreshing diversity of opinion on the literary left!

Miller’s readers threatened a boycott. The Guardian was quick to tut-tut that Miller’s politics (love of freedom, commitment to justice, aversion to anarchy, hatred for totalitarianism) added up to “mixed messages.” The comic-book writer Mark Millar warned against the “cyber-mob mentality” that was engulfing any discussion of Miller and his work, but few people seemed to be listening.

Meanwhile, another writer with a wide and enthusiastic following had delivered a controversial political judgment a few days earlier and almost no one had noticed. China Miéville, the British fantasy novelist who writes self-described “weird fiction,” posted on his blog a deadpan reaction to the release of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit after five years in Hamas captivity:

     Gilad Schalit is showing signs of malnutrition. What have his captors done to him? Such shocking revelations must mean fresh scrutiny of those who have held him.
     How could it not? What kind of power, after all, would deliberately starve even the youngest captives, according to chillingly cynical calorifico-political calculation, as a matter of publicly stated policy?

I have reproduced Miéville’s entire post, including each of his hypertext links, so that you don’t have to click over to his blog. By a sly use of hypertext, Miéville is able to imply, without bothering to say outright, that the state of Israel has the deliberate policy of starving the children of Gaza. You might think that such a monstrous charge might deserve a full explanation and defense. You would be wrong. Miéville resorts to hypertext to do the hard work of argument. He wants to leave the impression, unsubstantiated but unshakable, that the Jewish state is exactly the same as the Islamic terrorists of Hamas, and Gilad Shalit got nothing less than what he deserved.

I won’t hold my breath for the outrage or threats of boycott. This much might be said, however. To “rant” is to display moral courage; it is to risk being held publicly accountable for direct and unsparing statement. China Miéville is a literary coward who hides behind hypertextual cleverness to avoid taking ownership of his political opinions. Susan Sontag once lamented that the camera can lie. To the artist’s bag of lying devices can now be added hypertext.

Give me an honest rant any day.

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