I grew up anti-Communist. I remain anti-Communist. I share with my National Review colleagues and forebears an abiding hatred of Communism. And that hatred extends to ill-conceived, poorly articulated, envy-driven jargon from street radicals. But at the same time I’ve got to say there’s something truly refreshing, even reassuring, about the all of the Marxist twaddle coming out of these protests. These Red goons, buffoons, ruffians and tatterdemalions didn’t spring forth ex nihilo. They’ve been living among us all of this time. All that is new is the opportunity for them to out themselves in YouTube videos and the rest.
I think we’ve all known that, but it’s useful to be reminded of it. It’s also useful (as I argue in the current issue) to be reminded of the fact that given the flimsiest of excuses a great number of mainstream liberals will drop their apparently feigned resolve against leftwing radicalism and leap at the opportunity to express solidarity with the crazies. So far, except for one honorable dissent from the editors of The New Republic, I haven’t seen any prominent liberals expressing any serious concern about what the occupiers are actually saying. And what significant reluctance we have seen from liberal politicians, starting with Obama, is quite transparently motivated not by principle but by strategy. If the Occupy Wall Street mob swept the country, I’m sure some of these liberals would, eventually, find a backbone — particularly when it came time to redistribute their stock portfolios or seize their McMansions. But until then, most of them seem perfectly happy to encourage the rabble and treat their ideas as legitimate.
Here’s one useful tip: Whenever the substance of the Occupy Wall Street movement troubles Democratic politicians their response is to hide behind platitudes about free speech. “It’s about their right to express themselves!” Well, no it’s not. Free speech is important, but it’s really not the issue. It certainly wasn’t even much of a concern when it was the Tea Party expressing itself — which it managed to do without inviting mass arrests. Back then, leading Democrats considered dissent racist or un-American. Now they celebrate free speech so they can hide from dealing with the issues at hand honestly. Democratic politicians think that this gives them cover. It doesn’t. It just shows that they’re afraid to disagree with the protesters either because they agree with them or because they know the protests are popular among their own supporters. Either way, it’s proof that the much ballyhooed wall between mainstream radicalism and mainstream liberalism is more like a speed bump.
It’s one thing to have suspicions. It’s another thing to have them confirmed. And for that, I’m grateful for Occupy Wall Street.