Lazy conservatives who instinctively are repelled by the Occupy Wall Street movement, but can't be bothered to intellectually engage with the issue, are circulating their own YouTube hits - alleging not just stupidity and bad hygiene, but also anti-Semitism. A popular one (200,000 hits so far) called "Anti-Semitic Protester at Occupy Wall Street - LA" features a woman who declares: "The Zionist Jews who are running these big banks and our Federal Reserve - they need to be run out of this country."
Armed with video snippets such as these, an American conservative group is running a slick ad suggesting that the Occupy movement is basically just one big Democratic-supported anti-Semitic jamboree. Links to their ad, and the accompanying anti-Semitism claim, are all over my Twitter feed. Opponents of Occupy don't even have to watch the video: They can confirm all their pre-existing biases about the movement in 140 characters or less.
The reality about Occupy? That's more boring. This week, Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen - one of those Zionist Jews who supposedly are in danger of getting lynched by Occupy protesters - made his way to Lower Manhattan to observe the pogroms. He sums up his experience thusly: "Projecting an unvarnished Semitism, I circled the place, encountering nothing and no one to suggest bigotry - not a sign, not a book and not even the guy who some weeks ago held up a placard with the instruction to Google the phrase 'Zionists control Wall St.' Google 'nut case' instead."They don't? I guess I'm not too "intelligent" then, because when, for instance, revelers were celebrating in Tahrir Square, all I could see was the "fringe" who were screaming "Jew! Jew" as they gang-raped CBS's Lara Logan. Similarly, when I attended the Ayatollah's Al Quds Day rally at Queen's Park this year, I couldn't help but focus on the "fringe"—and there were only a few individuals, mind you—who were holding aloft Hezbollah flags.
Cohen isn't arguing that the anti-Semitic nuts who occasionally pop up at Occupy movements aren't despicable. And neither am I. But all recent mass movements, from trade unions and anti-globalization protests to Tea Party rallies and Canada's Reform Party, have attracted bigots. Intelligent people don't judge a movement on the basis of the fringe haters they inevitably attract.
How dumb was that?
So, sorry, Jon, if dumb old me, dumbed down as I am by the bedumbing Internet, espies something ugly and disturbing in the "fringe" of Jew-hate that has affixed itself like an invasive species--like a zebra mussel, say--to the "Occupy" hull: I happen to believe we ignore such critters at our peril.