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20th December
written by Sean Noble









Last week, TIME Magazine proclaimed “the Protester” person of the year.  The distinction itself makes sense.  First, the Arab Spring captured worldwide attention as dramatic, historic events unfolded in realtime on cable news.  It was riveting; “Millions protest. Armies stand down. Dictators leave. Impossible fantasies two months earlier — now they were coming true. The ‘days of rage’ meme and democratic dream had achieved breathtaking momentum, spreading not just to the softer monarchical dictatorships — Jordan, Bahrain, Morocco — but also to Yemen, Algeria and the hardcore police states Syria and Libya.”

Next, protests happened in Europe because, well, Europeans always protest.  Then came the “Occupy Wall Street,” protests snarling traffic and stinking up public parks throughout the U.S.  So, I agree, 2011 was a big year for protestors.

TIME’s Kurt Andersen lost me completely however, in his attempt to equate the whiny, inconsistent, and absurd arguments of the OWS protesters with the Arab Spring protesters’ demands for democracy and cries for freedom from oppression:

“This year, instead of plugging in the headphones, entering an Internet-induced fugue state and quietly giving in to hopelessness, they used the Internet to find one another and take to the streets to insist on fairness and (in the Arab world) freedom.”

This ridiculous statement, placing fairness on the same plain as freedom, with the  parenthetical caveat “in the Arab world,” insults all those who have fought and died for freedom. Fairness?  Really?  If you take to the streets to protest “unfairness,” life has been good to you, yours is a free society.

Not only did Andersen miss the mark by equating the protests in the West with the movements in the Muslim world, but his glowing narrative of OWS laughably defied reason:

“The Occupy movement in the U.S. was set in motion by a couple of magazine editors — a 69-year-old Canadian, a 29-year-old African American — and a 50-year-old anthropologist, but airline pilots and grandmas and shop clerks and dishwashers have been part of the throngs.

It’s remarkable how much the protest vanguards share. Everywhere they are disproportionately young, middle class and educated.”

How many airline pilots would Andersen have us believe took part in OWS?  Definitely not a sizable “part of the throngs,” probably not even enough to bear mention.   And, who doesn’t know young, middle class, and educated grandmas and dishwashers?  It’s clear that OWS is not a cross-section of America; Andersen’s feeble attempt to claim otherwise rings hollow.

The next statement is patently false:

“Almost all the protests this year began as independent affairs, without much encouragement from or endorsement by existing political parties or opposition bigwigs.”

OWS was started by AdBusters, a Canadian-based organization with the “aim to topple existing power structures and change the way we live in the 21st century.”  According to Reuters and others, AdBusters is backed in part by the Tides Foundation, to which George Soros has given $3.5 million between 2007-2009., also funded by Soros, has publicly encouraged the OWS movement.  I’d say Soros classifies as a “bigwig.”  And, it isn’t just the Soros wing of the Democratic Party.  Union and labor bosses, existing political powerbrokers, have also played a part.

In fact, the Working Families Party, which was running Craiglist ads to recruit people they could pay to occupy, shares an address in New York with SIEU and ACORN.

Full disclosure comes towards the end of the piece:

“A few days later, my 24-year-old nephew, Daniel Thorson, e-mailed from his small town in western New York: he was coming down to occupy Wall Street…

and later… “Daniel spent 38 hours in custody, charged with resisting arrest, disorderly conduct and obstructing governmental administration.”

The protester played an historic role this year and it remains unclear whether the regime changes he achieved will be for the better.  As the Taliban demonstrated not long ago, a theocracy can be just as brutal and tyrannical as a dictator and pose a serious threat to the rest of the world.  It’s too bad that TIME chose to run an OWS propaganda story instead of tackling the nuanced accomplishments of the 2011 protesters.

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