This post is by Leonard Zeskind and Devin Burghart, from www.IREHR.org
They have not cracked the Tea Party movement itself, but Occupy Wall Street in New York and its reiteration across the country have in short order broken the stranglehold that the Tea Parties have had on our national political discourse. In response, the leaders — but not necessarily the members — of the largest Tea Party factions have denounced the Occupy protests in direct, unambiguous, and characteristically overblown statements.
Tea Party Patriots chairman Mark Meckler, said, “We have nothing in common with them other than we are all American citizens,” according to The Daily Caller. Similarly, Tea Party Nation boss Judson Phillips opined that, “the goal of these people is ultimately a socialist revolution.” Eric Odom, one of the original instigators of the Tea Party movement who now has a perch at Patriot Action Network and its Liberty Network News, wrote that Occupy Wall Street is a “a front for a dastardly agenda plotted by radical globalists.”
But, despite complaints at the top, there are an increasing number of Tea Partiers who want to be friends with the Occupiers. Despite the appeal of a unified populist front, the new wave of protesters should beware — many of these offers have been coming from a dangerous mix of ideologues with a radical, right-wing vision of America’s future.
Consider FedUpUSA, which is based in Michigan and describes itself as a group of investors who helped start the Tea Parties and support institutions like the union-busting think tank Mackinac Center for Public Policy. In Ohio, FedUpUSA announced its support for Occupy Cleveland and has called the media “partisanly-blinded” in its coverage. But this is also a group that has recently called Social Security “Enron-ish.”
Then there are the followers of Ron Paul, “a lot of [whom] … are spreading news about the Occupy Wall Street event,” according to Odom, who also notes that some activists thinks there is a lot of space for “common ground” between Occupy Wall Street and Tea Party protesters.
Over at Campaign for Liberty, the well-staffed national organization that Paul created out of his run in the 2008 Republican primaries, one blogger hoped that the protests would prove to be “a beneficial opportunity to spark debate regarding the fundamental economic issues of our time.”
At Ron Paul Forums, however, they took a poll, “Do you think the Tea Parties should support Occupy Wall Street?” The results: Yes — 57 percent, No — 43 percent. While the question was eventually modified to say something like “parallel demonstrations” or a “dialogue,” the answers reflected a desire by Tea Party Paul-ites to find new supporters for the Paul cause among the Occupiers.
What is the Ron Paul cause? Number one seems to be the elimination of the Federal Reserve in order to lock America’s currency to the gold standard.
Alex Jones, the Texas talk show host who is known as perhaps the most prominent right-leaning 9/11 Truther, is another end-the-Fed diehard trying to get his hand in the Occupiers nest. According to his website, Infowars, he noted: “Well-meaning protesters who have joined the Occupy Wall Street effort, including in solidarity activities in cities everywhere, need to be educated about the power held by this insidious institution.” What institution? Again, the Federal Reserve. This is the same Jones who has also said things like, “Mexicans want to destroy America” and “What are the Zionists so afraid of? Why do they wield so much power?”
As the Occupy Wall Street protests kick off a wave of support across the United States, even the right-wing fringe has recognized that it’s an important phenomenon. As the group tries to coalesce into a new movement, it’s worth remembering that elements of the far-right may at moments seem like new friends, but they often are really just old enemies with an agenda in hand.