Ayesha Kazmi

Why Anti-OWS Speech Scares Me

In The Political on 17/10/2011 at 23:40

To their credit, various “occupy” protesters have warded off critique quite well. We have read the counter arguments and even witnessed a Wall Street protester tearing a Fox News reporter to shreds.

Many of us want to hurl objects at our television screens when we hear the likes of Bill O’Reilly spewing his venomous disgust at the occupy movement.

Rather than carry out our typical “knee-jerk” responses many of us are inclined toward with the likes of talking heads like O’Reilly, I have an alternative suggestion. I strongly suggest that people grab a glass of ice water and attempt to listen through the vitriol. There is something a lot deeper going on than just unadulterated occupy slandering.

Bear in mind that more and more Americans have joined the rank and file of the poor and voiceless while watching. Then observe that the “1%” are not merely smearing the occupy movements from an ideological standpoint; which in and of itself is fair game. Instead, take note of specific patterns: the words used, the images painted, and the ideas expressed. Why bother bringing this up? Simply put: occupy must be understood within its wider context.

The occupy movements are not being treated by your local and state police forces as a mere nuisance. No. A little unknown fact is that the US Department of Defense (DoD) aligns protests with “Low-Level Terrorism”. In 2009, the DoD technically removed the line that states so from their manuals after allegations from the ACLU that the DoD poorly worded their manuals. While the DoD has technically shifted their wording , the same problem persists. The definitions are hazy and this makes human rights advocates and lawyers uncomfortable.

Counter-terrorism policing units have had a heavy presence at occupy protests throughout the United States – New York, Boston, and Philadelphia. What precisely does this mean? The hard truth is that many occupy protesters are probably being treated as “low-level” terrorists. That means that while protesters chew on donuts with NYPD cops, specialised law enforcement officers are simultaneously collecting intelligence on them. The patterns of arrests and detentions to date throughout US occupy protests strongly exhibit that this may be the case.

Many protesters are aware they’re now subject to having FBI files on them. However, we only have to look around us to see how terrorists and those affiliated with terrorists, whether by association or by sheer proximity, are framed in our world.

The chilling words of Glenn Greenwald, in his discussions of the extra-judicial killing of Anwar al Awlaki, are words every American should carry with them as occupy movements continue to grow. The scariest aspect of the Occupy protests angled within a terrorism framework is that when “the U.S. Government points and utters the word ‘Terrorist’ hordes of citizens rise up and demand not evidence, but blood,” says Greenwald. That’s right –throw due process out the door, which, mind you, was successfully accomplished on day one of the War on Terror.

What was the method of due process erosion? It’s actually a lot simpler than you’d think. Not only do anti-terror laws erode our civil liberties, but the simultaneous fear based anti-terror cultural ethos, that has pervaded western cultures, provides the permissiveness to erode civil liberties.

Anti-terror cultural ethos gave birth to the mindsets that sees those living within the Muslim world as culturally backwards, uneducated, perverted, unclean, needing to be civilised and taught the values of freedom and democracy. In other words, it’s a purposeful process of dehumanising entire peoples.

Sitting in our bastions of democracy and education, the contradictions overseas were glaringly obvious for academics and journalists to point to, discuss, and critique. Furthermore, it is the terrorism pretext that has justified the killing of entire populations in the Middle East and the Muslim world. In the North West Frontier Province of Pakistan alone, the CIA acknowledges the deaths of 2,050 Pakistanis by drone attacks – of which 50, they say, were non-combatants. The number the CIA will not provide you, is that out of the 2,050 “militants” killed, 173 of them were children.

The permissiveness in our western countries, the US and all throughout Europe, is astounding. If I were to venture a guess, our permissiveness is in large part due the privilege we have in being able to shut off our televisions and put the malicious media on ignore.

I am no longer certain that the western world is afforded that privilege. At least, the privilege to ignore unpleasant media wanes. As much as it may pain some of us to do so, pay keen attention to the spite filled Fox News reports about the occupy movement. Mind you, they are the most popular US news network responsible for shaping public opinion. These are not just ideological – even if half-assed – retorts. There is something a lot deeper happening that is critical to understand.

Watch the following video on Gawker of Bill O’Reilly’s anti-OWS segment.

For those who (rightfully) feel Fox News is too sensational, please consider the following video not affiliated with any news outlet.

Now the patterns should start to fall into place. The messages viewers receive are shocking to the core: “dirty”, “litter”, “filthy”, “drugs”, “stupid”, “uneducated”, and the most alarming image: “rats”. Protesters are sexually promiscuous, un-American, ignorant about democratic processes, ill-cultured, and worse yet, ideologically aligned with terrorists. These mindsets should sound off a familiar bell. Only, until the recent past, these terms were reserved primarily for those living in the Third World, or ethnic minorities and the poor and working classes in the First.

The game has shifted drastically – the 99% are now officially a criminalised and dehumanised group. Now that millions of people in the US have joined the ranks of the poor, it has become a lot easier to dehumanise Americans on a broader scale. The sheer rate at which masses of people are being turned into the voiceless poor is staggering. Last week, the following article reveals that the EU plans to cut 75% of its food aid to its already poor citizens. This will bring approximately 18 million into the ranks of the starving throughout Europe over the next year.

Do we even need to ponder what happens when masses of people begin to starve? Only, in our world, the type of direct action it would take to prevent mass starvation has officially been criminalised over the past 10 years because of terrorism laws. Anti-terror law enforcement agencies in the United States and all throughout Europe are already doing their handy-work. And the news agencies? They’re already doing their part in culturally turning the 99% into criminal scum.

We don’t have a lot of time.

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  1. Great blog post. I have always told people to listen to what is said and what is NOT said.

  2. Very poignant, but I would argue that it has been going on much longer than that. My close friends & family who attended peace protests in the 1970s got their phones tapped (even heard the clicks & the spies’ voices break in on a call once myself) & FBI files created on them. In 1999, I was protesting with 100 other wheelchair users against states using Medicaid to imprison people in “nursing homes” in 1999, & they kept sending bomb dogs dogs through our hotel. This treatment of peaceful protesters as “terrorists” has been going on for decades; it’s only within the past one that they’ve been able to use it publicly as an “excuse”.

  3. Excellent analysis! My head almost explodes from the MSM ‘analysis’ of OWS. Both (D) and (R) pundits are clueless. Meanwhile, OWS seems impervious to the punditry and politicos as it spreads worldwide. At last, the difference is clear, the line is drawn, and it’s not between right and left. It’s between the top 1% and everyone else.

    Me, the “dirty hippies” (NOT) occupying my home-city have been making a lot more sense than the pundits. I want to hear more what my fellow citizens are saying. The professional talkers can go eff themselves, until they come down from their high-horses and roll up their sleeves.

  4. I’m a liberal in the military so my views on things like the OWS movement tend to differ greatly from that of my peers. They somehow believe that OWS is also an anti-military movement. For some reason, many of my peers seem to think that they are not included in the masses of those left behind by our country’s economic policies. Conservative celebrities like O’Reilly have been very effective in creating a “you’re either with us or against us” attitude within the right-wing community. I would never so as far as to say that being conservative is “wrong”, simply that modern American conservativism has been diluted to such an extent that the basic fundamentals of the Republican party have been replaced with hateful propganda. It is hard to not feel out of place here and to not question why I put this uniform on every day…

  5. First they ignore you, then they make fun of you, then they fight you, then you win.

    They are still making fun of OWS but it’s getting cold in NYC and the local cops are starting to get fed up with the protesters. There will be confrontation but who knows to what scale… unfortunately every small town in the US has armed SWAT teams.

  6. So… if you follow with the DoD calling protests terrorism, the US government supports terrorism in foreign countries? Search Youtube for “I am not moving” for a really nice demonstration of this.

  7. I’m much less concerned by morons like O’Reilly and Hannity spouting off their ill-informed, bigoted hatred to the GOP party faithful – it’s the needless division among those truly affected by the issues that worries me.

    I’m sure we’ve all seen those “I am the 53 percent” videos by people trying desperately to distance themselves from who they perceive the OWS demonstrators to be. Overcoming that divisive mentality and making people aware of the key issues is more of a struggle than dealing with the far-Right mouthpieces on Fox.

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