Jeff Jacoby / November 2, 2011

Occupiers, Tea Partiers, and the Tenth Commandment

At the Occupy Phoenix demonstrations, fliers encourage protesters to violently resist police officers, asserting that “you will usually have only two options: submit, or kill the cop.” At Zuccotti Park in Manhattan, an Occupy Wall Street protester was sexually assaulted in her tent; according to the New York Post, a woman was raped at the same site a few weeks earlier. In Denver, “Occupy” activists turned on the police, screaming obscenities and knocking a motorcycle cop to the ground. Occupy Oakland grew even more violent, as police were pelted with bottles and rocks, and had M-80 firecrackers thrown at them. And in cities from Boston to Berkeley, Occupy encampments have coincided with surges in vandalism, assault, and theft.

At the Occupy Phoenix demonstrations, fliers encourage protesters to violently resist police officers, asserting that “you will usually have only two options: submit, or kill the cop.” At Zuccotti Park in Manhattan, an Occupy Wall Street protester was sexually assaulted in her tent; according to the New York Post, a woman was raped at the same site a few weeks earlier. In Denver, “Occupy” activists turned on the police, screaming obscenities and knocking a motorcycle cop to the ground. Occupy Oakland grew even more violent, as police were pelted with bottles and rocks, and had M-80 firecrackers thrown at them. And in cities from Boston to Berkeley, Occupy encampments have coincided with surges in vandalism, assault, and theft.

Some individuals have strained to compare the Occupy Wall Street protests to the Tea Party movement. “They’re not that different,” President Obama told ABC’s Jake Tapper. “Both on the left and the right, I think people feel separated from their government.” The Daily Show’s host Jon Stewart argued: “Here’s a group of Americans, disenchanted, railing against big government bailouts…. These protesters, how are they not like the Tea Party?”

But the contrast between the Occupiers and the Tea Partiers could hardly be greater. Tea Party rallies haven’t turned public squares into squalid slums or incited protesters to curse the police. What the Occupy movement descended to in less than two months – the hundreds of arrests, the vandalism, the anti-Semitic rants, the all-night drumming, the public urination – is like nothing the American public saw in more than two years of Tea Party activism.

That isn’t a fluke. When you flout the Tenth Commandment – “Thou shalt not covet” – things are apt to get ugly.

The ranks of both the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street are filled with the frustrated and the fed-up; both movements seek dramatic change in the nation’s policies. But the values that propel them are poles apart. The Tea Partiers advocate limited government, personal responsibility, lower taxes, and economic freedom, all within a framework of constitutional restraint. What the Occupiers appear to want above all is to punish the wealthy, to demonize corporations, and to wallow in their own victimhood and sense of entitlement. They claim to represent “the 99 percent.” Many would like to “Shut Down the 1 Percent.”

Such class hostility pervades the Occupy movement. It is ubiquitous among the signs and chants at the demonstrations (“Wall Street Is Our Street,” “Tax the Millionaires,” “Human Need, Not Corporate Greed”). It is echoed by media cheerleaders as well. Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson last week condemned income growth among the highest-earning Americans as “theft,” while NBC’s David Gregory observed that the Occupiers’ demands “dovetail nicely” into Obama’s “big message … of going after Wall Street and the banks, talking about unfairness.”

Democratic pollster Douglas Schoen, interviewing some 200 Zuccotti Park protesters, found that most of them share “a deep commitment to left-wing politics: opposition to free-market capitalism and support for radical redistribution of wealth.” They favor stiffer taxes on the wealthy (77 percent) and more regulation of business (70 percent), and 31 percent say they would engage in violence to advance their agenda.

The violence is not tangential to the agenda. As the mounting hooliganism at Occupy encampments suggests, where class resentment takes root, predatory lawbreaking frequently follows. When politicians rail against “millionaires and billionaires,” when social-activist campaigns scapegoat the “1 percent,” it is only a matter of time before thugs feel emboldened to steal, rape, and worse. Class envy is not benign. At its most extreme – the communist tyrannies of Lenin and Stalin, Mao, and Pol Pot – it unleashed the bloodiest genocides of the 20th century.

Economic envy may cloak itself in rhetoric about “inequality” or “egalitarianism” or “redistribution of wealth,” but its oldest name is covetousness. That is the sin enjoined by the last of the Ten Commandments: “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s house; thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife, or his manservant, or his maidservant, or his ox, or his ass, or anything that is thy neighbor’s.”

At first blush it may seem odd that God would ban a mere desire. After all, the other nine commandments concern behavior: idolatry, theft, perjury, and so on. But as a matter of moral and social hygiene, the Tenth Commandment is indispensable. Covetousness – particularly when it takes the form of class hatred – is the root of innumerable other evils. From the belief that you don’t have enough because others have too much, it isn’t that great a stretch to the belief that those who have too much should be forced to make do with less. It shouldn’t be surprising when a movement obsessed with what rich capitalists earn rather than with what they produce starts treating other people’s property and persons with contempt.

Occupy Wall Street preaches that the “1 percent” got rich by exploiting the “99 percent.” The Tea Party believes that with greater freedom and less government, we could all be more prosperous and productive. One is rooted in envy, the other in self-respect. What distinguishes them, you might say, is the culture of the Tenth Commandment. That distinction is showing up in many ways, not least in the latest police reports.

© Copyright 2011 Globe Newspaper Company

Start a conversation using these share links:

Who We Are

The Patriot Post is a highly acclaimed weekday digest of news analysis, policy and opinion written from the heartland — as opposed to the MSM’s ubiquitous Beltway echo chambers — for grassroots leaders nationwide. More

What We Offer

On the Web

We provide solid conservative perspective on the most important issues, including analysis, opinion columns, headline summaries, memes, cartoons and much more.

Via Email

Choose our full-length Digest or our quick-reading Snapshot for a summary of important news. We also offer Cartoons & Memes on Monday and Alexander’s column on Wednesday.

Our Mission

The Patriot Post is steadfast in our mission to extend the endowment of Liberty to the next generation by advocating for individual rights and responsibilities, supporting the restoration of constitutional limits on government and the judiciary, and promoting free enterprise, national defense and traditional American values. We are a rock-solid conservative touchstone for the expanding ranks of grassroots Americans Patriots from all walks of life. Our mission and operation budgets are not financed by any political or special interest groups, and to protect our editorial integrity, we accept no advertising. We are sustained solely by you. Please support The Patriot Fund today!

★ PUBLIUS ★

“Our cause is noble; it is the cause of mankind!” —George Washington

The Patriot Post is protected speech, as enumerated in the First Amendment and enforced by the Second Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America, in accordance with the endowed and unalienable Rights of All Mankind.

Copyright © 2022 The Patriot Post. All Rights Reserved.

The Patriot Post does not support Internet Explorer. We recommend installing the latest version of Microsoft Edge, Mozilla Firefox, or Google Chrome.