by Chris Haire
The Tea Party and the Occupy Wall Street crowd aren't all that different. In fact, their causes are the same: Someone's taking my shit and I want it back.
In the case of the Tea Party, it's the illegals and the welfare queens who have their grubby little hands all over the teabaggers' Medicare, while the Occupuses have their boxer-briefs in a wad because the fat cats and country clubbers took away their allowances and they won't give it back.
The Tea Party shouts, "Give us our prescription drug benefits or give us ... uh, um ... our Social Security checks and AARP discounts."
The Occupuses gnash their teeth and wail, "How the hell do you expect us to pay our monthly iPhone bills with the money we get waiting on tables. And between you and me, we're really, really shitty at our jobs. Like we get your order wrong every time."
Forget what either group is saying. Ignore their rhetoric. They don't care about you or me or helping this country. They want what they believe is rightfully theirs and that's it.
In fact, the only real difference between the Teabaggers and the Occupuses is that the O-Faces want to break shit and the Tea Partiers are worried about breaking their hips.
Maybe I'm being too cynical.
That's possible. But I've been to my far share of protests over the years and they are pretty much split into these two camps: retired and unemployed older people with nothing to do and students and bohos with nothing to do.
Here's a piece I wrote back in Boston a few years back about a curious clash between peaceniks and anarchists during 2004. I'd be willing to bet dollars to donuts that today's Occupiers are not much different than the anarchists in this story. Enjoy.
Oh, and one more thing: #Occupy[your city] is this year's Iranian green avatar.
Anarchy in the Hub
What's wrong with peace, love and understanding? For the anarchists in Boston, quite a bit.
By Chris Haire
Anti-war protests, I’ve been to plenty. And when it comes to making copies, the bullhorn and brickbats crowd can take on Xerox any day.
Same impassioned poster board pleas. Same paranoia-ridden, lysergic- driven rants. Same mixed up, muddled up messages - Liberate Palestine. Love your Mother. Lend me a dollar. But this one was different. For me at least, this one singled a change, a growing division between the believers in the ways of the Woodstock Nation and the culture-jamming disciples of Tyler Durden.
The day: Saturday, December 3, 2004. The time: 2:59 p.m. The place: Copley Square.
I had just walked out of the downtown library, and I found myself in the middle of a protest. I hadn’t come to be a part of the protest nor to observe it. For some reason, I had gotten a wild hair up my ass to pick up a copy the Marquis de Sade’s “120 Days of Sodom.”
I’ll be the first to admit I’m desensitized. What with Boston Herald covers, BarnyardBrides.com and front page pictures of Mistress Lyndie and the other doms at Abu Ghraib testing the boundaries of the master/slave relationship, it’d been a long time since I was shocked by anything. I was looking for a jolt.
The marquis did his best, but the subject matter wasn’t erotic in any way. It was surgically frank and about as arousing as listening to Geritol-popping sexpert Sue Johanson wax on and wax off about rabbit pearl vibrators and double-pronged dildos. However, I did find it amusing. In fact, I’d go as far as to call it pure comedy gold, comparable to blue-period Redd Foxx. I recommend it, but be warned: gas is passed, piss is drunk and most of Old McDonald’s Farm is buggered.
But neither Sanford nor Sade has anything on the chap behind me. Even though he has a stud through his upper lip, he apparently has a thing for Bon Jovi, and he wants to declare his devotion to the world. He starts with a verse and sings right through to the arena-rocking chorus: “Whoa, we’re halfway there. Whoa, we’re living on a prayer.” His friends join him briefly but soon grow tired of karaoke night at Copley Square.
At first I take his affection seriously, and as such, chuckle to myself, but it becomes apparent his “American Idol” moment is itself a form of protest, a sneering indictment of the peace lovers across Copley Square preaching sweet dreams and picket-line sleepwalking as the means by which to catch the attention of the big men in the boardroom stroking their stock options and diddling their 401(k)s and the little men in the living room huddling around their plasma screen TVs living vicariously through Direct TV and TiVO.
Noticeably frustrated at his threatening-as-a-British-Bobby-with-a-billycub brothers across the way, the Bon Jovi fan peddles over to his likeminded comrades — the anarchists. With their black clothes and mouth-covering bandanas, they’re part Bauhaus, part Cobra Guard.
Fashion statements aside, you have to give the anarchists credit for their willingness to take protesting to a level the peaceniks, with their double- decaf, soy lattes and Phish-sticker covered Volvos, have forgotten about — the sort of in-your-face offensive favored by Abbie Hoffman and his Yippie brothers and sisters. They at least try to provoke.
Two hold aloft signs that read, “Victory to the Iraqi Resistance.” Another brandishes an Adbusters-approved American flag in which the stars have been replaced by corporate logos — Nike, Disney, McDonalds, etc…. One wears a paper mache skull over his face. Another plays a plastic bucket like a drum. A boombox plays “Fight the Power.”
However, even among the anarchists there appears to be some dissention. The matter of division: what to do about their pacifist-minded, Hobbit-weed smoking kinsmen. A girl with a bullhorn tells the group they need to unite with the others across Copley Square. Bon Jovi, for one, disagrees, and he lets his feelings be known. He says, “How about we unify in the streets.” The girl replies, “We’re not going to have any provocation here. I don’t want anyone to get arrested.”
The “Slippery When Wet” fan isn’t too pleased. He wants action, not words. Which is about all that Max Yasgur’s young ‘ens have.
One by one, speakers take the stage. One by one, they plead their case against the war and George W. Bush. No one is particularly inspiring. No one is particularly threatening. That is if you ignore the anarchists who slowly make their way to the pit in Copley Square. Their presence is felt like a canker sore.
The peaceniks soldiers on, attempting to regain control over the protest. One speaker, a man in a green jacket tries to give rabblerousing a shot. His jacket is supposed to appear Army but in reality it looks Old Navy. He leads the crowd in a chant of “Fuck George Bush.” The crowd responds enthusiastically. However, I’d be willing to bet it has less to do with political opinion and more to do with Carlin’s Dirty Seven.
Finished with dropping F-bombs, the speaker then congratulates himself for the inspired message. “Fuck George Bush,” he says, “how can I top that?” Unfortunately, he tries, launching into a Der Fuhrer fury of Mean Mr. Dean screams.
The anarchists aren’t buying it. For them, it’s performance art. It’s Ashlee Simpson on “SNL.” One yells mockingly, “Argh. I’m so angry.” Another says, “Blah, blah, blah.”
The Hitler Youth cools down and hands the microphone to a more subdued comrade, one who is well aware the natives are getting restless.
The new speaker possesses all of the nerdy earnestness of Charles Martin Smith, and he’s ready to teach the kids a lesson in the proper way to start a revolution — you lecture and wave your finger disapprovingly. “Today is not about getting arrested,” he says. “The war won’t end today. It will take time.” An anarchist shouts back, “Stop being afraid.”
As Chuck reaches the height of his speech, the anarchists gather together in the pit, staring straight ahead at the speaker. They unveil a banner. It reads: Disarm the state. The sign includes a little anarchist (A) in “disarm.”
The Glee Club knows something is up. There is a collective tension among the line of speakers at the lip of the pit and the listeners below. They know the anarchists are about to do something.
In the end, what the anarchists do is really nothing at all - they leave. As one, they march across the pit in Copley Square toward the oatmeal soap and homeopathic cure-all crowd, giving the group a collective “fuck you.” The anarchists believe that protesting is all well and good, but sometime, well, you just have to break the law. And in this case that means parading the streets with out a permit.
As the anarchists pass by their anti-war minded brothers and sisters, a distraught peacenik shouts at them, “Don’t turn your back. Please come back,” to which one of the men in black counters, “Anybody who is serious to the streets.” A hippie adds, “Get a job.”
Approximately 30 minutes later, the anarchists return. Their fellow protestors have abandoned Copley Square. The anarchists know the fight against the Bush administration and the war in Iraq cannot be given up so easily. Innocents are dying every day. They need our support.
And the anarchists provide it. For an additional 20 minutes. Thirty tops.