Alexander's Column

Tank Man: Genuine Courage v. Juvenile Cowardice

Mark Alexander · Nov. 17, 2011
“A morsel of genuine history is a thing so rare as to be always valuable.” –Thomas Jefferson (1817)

A recent daily communiqué from the Communist Party USA (which is directed to my “know thy enemy” email inbox) was chock full of indignation about the forced suppression of the New York-based Occupy rabble’s rights.

The CPUSA has been enthusiastically promoting Barack Hussein Obama’s Red October Uprising, which stars an unsavory cast of his Useful Idiots. Adding insult to injury, this truculent troupe’s stage debut was in New York City’s Zuccotti Park, right around the corner from the solemn 9/11 Memorial.

The protagonists of the Occupy movement are adherents of the populist socialist agenda, which is now the centerpiece of Obama’s Democrat Party Platform and its classist politics of disparity. Most of their followers are the product of the Left’s Directorate of Indoctrination (a.k.a. “urban government schools”), which is to say they have little objective cognitive ability – as they have aptly demonstrated.

Since its inception some two months ago, the Zuccotti Park encampment has spawned similar protests across the nation. These copycat protests have, at best, been a nuisance to their host cities. At worst, they’ve become violent and their rhetoric more anarchist. As yet, they have not resorted to detonating bombs, as was the practice of Obama’s Marxist political benefactor, William Ayers. Notably, when asked about the brutal assaults committed by Occupiers across the nation, Leftists Rep. Maxine Waters summed up their Black Caucus support: “That’s life and it happens. I’m not deterred in my support for them because of these negative kinds of things. That’s a distraction from the goals of the protesters.”

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In New York, the confrontations between protesters and police had become increasingly combative and had cost area small businesses and vendors in the area more than $500,000 in damages and lost business. Consequently, earlier this week Mayor Michael Bloomberg sent in police to eradicate the Occupiers and sanitation workers to disinfect the park and restore it for public use – and not a New York second too soon.

Predictably, The New York Times lamented, “[The protesters] made ‘99 percent’ into popular language for the have-nots. They spawned protests against further enriching the already rich 1 percent, like those in Chicago, Boston, Oakland, New Haven, and even London. But Mr. Bloomberg hasn’t done as good a job [ending the protests] and we worry that his decision to clear the park of tents could end up quashing the entire protest.”

Of course, the protesters were less than pleased, and in response, they have called for a massive demonstration (17 November) to disrupt city services and commerce.

“This is going to be a day of action around the city,” Occupy organizer Bill Dobbs declared. “I’m looking forward to going after Wall Street and also galvanizing public support and awareness of what we’re about. We are the 99 percent. Like other people in power, [Bloomberg] thinks if they get rid of the protesters, they will also get rid of the cause.”

One of Dobbs’ deputies was a bit more descriptive: “No more talking. They’ve got guns, we’ve got bottles. They’ve got bricks, we’ve got rocks … you’re going to see what a Molotov cocktail can do. On the 17th, we’re going to burn New York City to the ground.”

Post your response to the Occupiers

However, the temperature in New York is getting colder, so these dispirited “summer soldiers” will likely not rally much support for the insurrection. But the underlying support for class warfare under the “99 percent v 1 percent” banner has not chilled. It is a mistake to underestimate the unshakeable popular support for the socialist agenda espoused by Obama and his Red cadres in Congress, in State Houses, and on the ground. That support now stands at about 35 percent, primarily those who have already been “economically disenfranchised” by statist policies.

What impressed me most about the latest call for insurrection in New York, was not the immediate threat to life and property posed by these juvenile delinquents, but their “day of action” promo poster, which Occupiers were plastering across Manhattan. Impressed, I say, because however unwittingly, it fittingly reveals the abject ignorance of the organizers and their wholly uniformed perception of history.

The poster contains classic elements of early communist propaganda placards from the now-defunct socialist Soviet Union, but it’s revolutionary reference clearly invokes the plight of “Tank Man.” As you recall, Tank Man was the brave lone protester who, in 1989, stood in front of a column of Red Chinese Type 59 tanks and brought them to a standstill. His display of defiance occurred the morning after the Communist Party cleared Beijing’s Tiananmen Square of its student protesters – the “People’s Army” slaughtering hundreds of students in the process. (I am quite sure the NYPD did not kill any Occupiers in the process of their removal, but hyperbole drives emotions.)

The Occupy poster’s Tank Man reference is bleeding irony because, at Tiananmen, those courageous young people were protesting AGAINST the socialist state and in support of Liberty and free enterprise – at great personal risk because the Red Chinese don’t honor any Bill of Rights. Conversely, the Occupy protesters, like their Dear Leader, Obama, want to implement a socialist state and suppress Liberty and free enterprise.

To that end, Tank Man “disappeared” minutes after his memorable confrontation, never to be seen again. A ranking Communist Party member reported, “We can’t find him. We got his name from journalists. We have checked through computers but can’t find him among the dead or among those in prison.” He said that without so much as a smile and wink.

Two decades after Tiananmen, I stood on Chang'an Avenue at the location where Tank Man had made his courageous stand in defiance of tyranny. I was hosted by a group of Chinese entrepreneurs who were present as students at the protests. As a result of modest economic reforms in the years after Tiananmen, some of those erstwhile protesters are now among China’s most affluent, those who within one generation have risen on the wings of their own initiative, innovation and perseverance from statist slums.

As I contemplate the contrast between the Occupy movement poster and the authentic photograph of Tank Man, I’m reminded of three observations about socialism and history. The first is from 18th-century philosopher Edmund Burke, who observed, “The people never give up their liberties but under some delusion.” Next is a quote from a 19th-century classical liberal, Frederic Bastiat, who wrote, “The state is the great fiction by which everybody seeks to live at the expense of everybody else.” And finally, as 20th-century philosopher George Santayana concluded in The Life of Reason: “Progress, far from consisting in change, depends on retentiveness. When experience is not retained, as among savages, infancy is perpetual. Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

Obama claims, “People are frustrated and the [Occupy] protesters are giving voice to a more broad-based frustration about how our financial system works.” The system he bemoans is free enterprise, and his populist promotion of socialism poses great risk to the future of Liberty.

Post your response to Obama

A final word of advice to Occupiers on their rights: You have a right to remain silent. Exercise it!

Publisher’s Note: Have a little fun with the Occupy folks. Visit The Patriot Post‘s Occupy Obamaville Facebook page to see the album we launched to chronicle some of the more notable Occupy moments. Send us your own images/captions for this page, to [email protected]

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