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Naomi Klein: OWS protesters exhibit wisdom
by not sullying cause with acts of violence

“Something else this movement is doing right: You have committed yourselves to non-violence. You have refused to give the media the images of broken windows and street fights it craves so desperately. And that tremendous discipline has meant that, again and again, the story has been the disgraceful and unprovoked police brutality. Which we saw more of just last night. Meanwhile, support for this movement grows and grows. More wisdom.

—Naomi Klein, author, from a speech titled,
“Occupy Wall Street: The Most Important
Thing in the World Now,” included in an
article at The Nation.

Klein, author of The Shock Doctrine, excellently makes a point we were about to write a post on. So instead, we present this quote from a longer outtake in a post Dusty has written over at her Leftwing Nutjob blog. (We strongly recommend you follow the link and read Dusty’s post; you’ll be glad you did.)

Understandable though they sometimes are, angry, violent demonstrations turn off the larger public protesters hope to reach and spur to action. So far, Occupy Wall Street people, along with their “Occupy”-named counterparts across the country, have been remarkably peaceable and restrained, even in the face of unwarranted roughness by a few in law enforcement.

The demonstrators’ restraint speaks well of them as people. It also makes clear they’re serious about righting wrongs and restoring a measure of fairness to an economy, polity and society all badly out of whack.

OWS people’s restraint is all the more important because the squawking heads of the right-wing noise machine lie about them daily, depicting them as a mob of lowlife troublemakers, anarchists and slackers envious of others’ wealth and success.

No one should be fooled by these lies. Nor should they be persuaded by the fact these activists don’t have military-trim hair and don’t dress in business casual. Spending days out in the elements in a small park on a very busy street in New York City is no less roughing it than hiking in a rugged wilderness. With all the traffic going by, plus the weather, people get grubby and can do only so much freshening up in restrooms of nearby buildings.


  1. Octopus says:

    OWS people’s restraint is all the more important because the squawking heads of the right-wing noise machine lie about them daily, depicting them as a mob of lowlife troublemakers, anarchists and slackers …

    During the Wisconsin demonstrations, Karl Rove insinuated that he was wishing for street violence to give the Beaver State tyranny an excuse to crack down and suppress the movement. Same here. The GOP is itching for any excuse to stage a 1968 Chicago-style police riot.

    Although I wholeheartedly support the 99 Percenters, I am too hot tempered to go out in public unless well sedated.

  2. At some point they will send in the professional goons to start a riot which can be blamed on OWS. There will be lots of blood before this is over.

  3. Jack Jodell says:

    Outstandingly stated, S.W.! You, Naomi Klein, and Dusty, are all incredible people!

  4. S.W. Anderson says:

    Octopus, you bet they’re itching to see OWS get ugly. That would turn the middle class away from them, which is what the GOP, Fox crowd, etc. want. It would probably get more well off people donating to hard-right pols’ campaigns, out of fear. Rove can be counted on to cause any discrediting trouble he thinks he can get away with.

    Blog Fodder, people like Rove have the motive and money to do what you suggest. The one thing they fear is having it traced back to them. Rove had a very close call not long ago, so he might be a little nervous about going through that again.

    Jack, thanks for the kind words. You do a great job too.

  5. Tom Harper says:

    Excellent advice from Naomi Klein. OWS is growing every day, and it’s crucial that they stay non-violent and non-confrontational. It’s also very important for them to make their message more concise and more unified. Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton and Matt Taibbi — among others — are all advising them on how to get more focused and unified.

    As one columnist put it, they need to be more 1963 (the March on Washington) than 1968 (demonstrations against the Vietnam War).

  6. Thank you for linking to my piece, it humbles me as you are a fine voice for the left as well. I adore Naomi and she is “the” most powerful voice for the left, keeping politics out of her commentary;s and just giving us her thoughts and observations..as all pundits should be doing.

    Everyone wants to dissect the movement…which in my humble opinion is just dumb. It is what it is..enjoy it and take part in it…we need every voice we can get! 😉 If people can’t join..send money..every tiny bit helps them as winter is coming on..and the anti-forces are hoping to hell that will be their downfall.

  7. Dave Dubya says:

    Right Wing agitation is almost a sure bet here. The “American Spectator” goon did it; more will follow.

    Conservative journalist says he infiltrated, escalated D.C. museum protest


  8. Jolly Roger says:

    Rumor has it Ohio will soon see Jamie O’Keefe in an effort to discredit the opposition to SB5.

    We have already discovered it, though. We’re all aware of how they operate, and what they are surely going to do.

  9. Very wise words from Ms Klein, I think. I sincerely hope the crowds, as exhaustion and tension mount, maintain their equilibrium. I know there’s been some really ugly crap from some of the police, but when I think back to Chicago in 1968, there’s no comparison. I’ve seen video footage of a lot of cops actually chatting and joking around with the protesters – not many, but some. And unfortunately, I did hear about one incident when some of the protesters threw bottles at the cops on the morning they were told they could stay in the park. I hope so much that these are isolated incidents because of the reason you put forth and because I want them to succeed. I’m impressed as hell with what they’ve done so far.

  10. S.W. Anderson says:

    Tom, this movement is still new with more people coming on board each week. So, it’s not surprising that it lacks the focus of a defined agenda. But if it’s to be more than a feel-good exercise in venting, leaders will have to emerge and they must propose specific things they want government to do. If OWS people have that agenda and act cohesively, politicians will go into an election year realizing they can be rewarded as friends or punished as opponents, not only by those who turn out for OWS demonstrations, but by a much larger number of nonparticipating supporters. That kind of clout could make a difference, and down the line result in some real reforms.

    Dusty, thank you for a fine post and the kind words. Klein is one of many whose voices need to be heard. The corporate networks fill their Sunday-morning talk shows with the same few stale pols and pundits, nearly all of them conservative Republicans echoing the same GOP talking points. Meanwhile, millions of disgusted Americans are ready to hear more from Klein, Michael Moore, Robert Reich, Joseph Stieglitz, Katrina Vanden Heuvel, Alan Grayson, Mike Dukakis, Jesse Jackson and many more.

    Dave, thanks for the link. The radical right always has a contingent of dirty-tricks operatives, provocateurs and jerks out trying to make a name for themselves. I’m sure their activities are well financed.

    J.R., forewarned is forearmed. One of these days little Jimmy is going to wind up being tarred, feathered and run out of somewhere on a rail. I hope there will be video.

    L.P., there’s liable to be a troublemaker here and there in any big crowd. That includes police as well as protesters. Troublemakers should be taken away to face consequences, whether they’re in sweatshirt and jeans or a uniform.

  11. Octopus says:

    A hat tip to Leslie for this story, Tea Party Co-Founder Expresses Support for Occupy Wall Street:

    The problem with protests and the political process is that it is very easy, no matter how big the protest is, for the politicians to simply wait until the people go home,” financial blogger Karl Denninger observed. “And then they can ignore you.

    Denninger has been complaining for some time that the Tea Party was hijacked by the Republican establishment and used to protect the very prople [sic] it had originally opposed. A year ago, he wrote, “Tea Party my ass. This was nothing other than the Republican Party stealing the anger of a population that was fed up with the Republican Party’s own theft of their tax money at gunpoint to bail out the robbers of Wall Street and fraudulently redirecting it back toward electing the very people who stole all the ****ing money!

    A few words on wedge politics. The purpose of throwing red meat to angry mobs is to divide and conquer and turn large coalitions of people with common interests into ineffectual fragments, what Noam Chomsky called “atomization.” Recently, I have been curbing my “ink the aquarium” instincts and engaging in less polarizing rhetoric. Why?

    If we want to win this argument and the 2012 election, we will need to rebuild a large coalition of people with common economic interests. We defeat our purpose when we allow ourselves to be suckered by the wedge politics of the right-wing and turn away folks like Karl Denninger.

    Meanwhile, I’m doubling up on tranquilizers.

  12. S.W. Anderson says:

    Those are good points, Octopus. I want to see that coalition built. I want to see it infiltrate, energize and transform the Democratic Party into something that’s not half-a-loaf complacent; into something that doesn’t go around with its shoelaces tied together much of the time. Easy on the medication, though. 😉