Grassroots Commentary

Occupying Common Sense

Thomas Berry · Nov. 14, 2011

The mainstream news media is fond of trying to compare the Occupy Wall Street (or, as I’ve seen it called, the Ows) movement to the Tea Party. Let’s explore that concept.

The Occupy protests have received far more news coverage than Tea Party events. That’s entirely fair, because while the Occupiers stay at it week after week, Tea Party events are limited to a day or less at a time, thereby generating less ongoing newsworthiness. There is also demonstrable empathy with the Occupiers and hostility towards the Tea Party in the mainstream press.

Both the Occupiers and the Tea Party have been called extremist by their detractors. Both have been falsely stereotyped – the former as unemployed, whining ingrates, the latter as racists and bigots. Both have been called hypocritical – the former for relying on technology produced by the Big Business economy they damn, the latter for reliance on government social services from Social Security and Medicare to schools while condemning government socialism.

After moving into a public place, the Occupiers beg for handouts of everything from tents and clothing to latrines, and their rallies have become notorious for accumulating litter and filth. What an idea – camp out illegally for days, and then think of sanitation needs while demanding that taxpayers shelter you!

Tea Party activities are conducted legally, and the venues are left spotless afterward. If needs arise that cannot be covered by the organizers’ and participants’ personal finances – which, contrary to cynical accusations, Big Business most assuredly do not underwrite – in-kind donations are arranged in advance and kept to a realistic minimum. Be that as it may: Taxpayers in Occupied cities are on the hook for rapidly escalating police and sanitation costs, even as Occupiers refuse to let the parks they have defiled be cleaned.

While identifying anything “official” from a group that is inherently anarchic is problematic, the Occupiers have presented several “demands.” Distilled, these demands – which include a $20.00 per hour minimum wage, guaranteed “living wage income” for the unemployed, free college education, and immediate discharge of all debt – would ensure total collapse of America’s economy. The Tea Party, on the other hand, merely demands that the Government at all levels limit itself to the powers specifically enumerated in the Constitution.

The Occupiers claim to represent ninety-nine percent of Americans, and that over a third of Americans agree with them. As if that many Americans concur with obscenity-laced shirts, bumper stickers, signs and chants that include Occupiers in Portland, Oregon, singing “F*** the USA.”

As if that many Americans demand, as do the Occupiers, elimination of all immigration control and restoration of natural river flows. Do that many Americans welcome the consequences of such actions, from compromised security of the nation in general and border states in particular to destruction of cities like Portland by natural flooding?

Rather than daring to speak for others, the Tea Party speaks for common-sense principles of individual liberty, equal justice, and opportunity to prosper for all. Rather than presuming that others identify with us, we simply invite others to give us a fair hearing and decide for themselves.

One American who does agree with the Occupiers is Rocky Suhayda, Chairman of the American Nazi Party. While it is false and unfair to identify Nazism with the Occupiers or with the Tea Party, one can only speculate that the antisemitism being spewed by some Occupiers attracted Mr. Suhayda like a fly to vomit. The Communist Party USA has also thrown in with the Occupiers, presumably because of the Occupiers’ demands to end capitalism, the engine of our economy and the antithesis of communism.

Others who agree with them include President Obama and former Speaker Pelosi. This is not only out of sympathy for their demands, but likely also out of relief that their antics have turned the nation’s focus from Fast and Furious, Solyndra and other growing scandals that are destroying what little remains of Obama’s hopes for re-election. The same politicians scorned the Tea Party, largely because we dare hold them accountable to the Constitution.

The Occupiers play to the ignorance of civics, history and economics that allows inflamed passions to overrule common sense, with the result that absurd demands, unreasonable behavior and, ultimately, tyranny become acceptable. The Tea Party advocates right knowledge of those subjects, and the subjugation of unreasonableness to common sense, of dependency to personal responsibility, and of tyranny to liberty.

The Occupiers occupy ignorance of and resentment towards the country that extends to them the freedom to speak their mind. The Tea Party occupies traditional American values. So I ask you, good reader: With whom do you identify?