Richard Cohen: OWS Isn’t Anti-Semitic–Just Clueless, Repugnant

Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen (10/24/11), tipped off by at least one of his Post colleagues, decided to pay a visit to Liberty Plaza to see the festival of anti-Semitism firsthand. Lo and behold, he found none:

Reckless Jew that I am, I muscled my way into the Occupy Wall Street encampment in Lower Manhattan despite multiple reports of virulent and conceivably lethal anti-Semitism. 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.

Before you send your note of thanks to Cohen, wait until he gets to his real point:

This right-wing attempt to discredit both the Occupy Wall Street movement and the Democratic Party’s hesitant embrace of it is reprehensible. It’s made possible, however, because no one this side of the Moon knows precisely what the Occupy Wall Street movement is trying to do. On a daily basis it marches off to some location to highlight what we all know–that Wall Street guys are rich–and their slogans suggest a tired socialism that is as repugnant to me as the felonious capitalism that produced the mortgage bubble and the impoverishment of millions of Americans.

Cohen goes on to call Occupy Wall Street “a destination for the aimless…a tourist attraction with the usual vendors, the usual zaftig young women doing the usual arrhythmic dance, somehow missing the beat of many drums.” It is also

a media event that has captured the flea-thoughts of many Americans…an incoherent articulation of anger at the institutions that have failed us, including–by way of both self-pity and self-flagellation–the media. It seems, above all, a conspiracy to have left-leaning writers make jackasses of themselves by imparting grave and grand meaning to what is little more than a vast sleepover.

For good measure, Cohen makes the argument that the right-wing smears of OWS are derived from the left:

The imputation of anti-Semitism, however, adds gravitas to this lighthearted event. The smear is in deadly earnest, a reminder that the devious tactics of the Old Left have been adopted by the New Right. (No accident, maybe, that the practitioners are the descendants of lefties.)

Well, he was on the right track with that first paragraph.

About Peter Hart

Activism Director and and Co-producer of CounterSpinPeter Hart is the activism director at FAIR. He writes for FAIR's magazine Extra! and is also a co-host and producer of FAIR's syndicated radio show CounterSpin. He is the author of The Oh Really? Factor: Unspinning Fox News Channel's Bill O'Reilly (Seven Stories Press, 2003). Hart has been interviewed by a number of media outlets, including NBC Nightly News, Fox News Channel's O'Reilly Factor, the Los Angeles Times, Newsday and the Associated Press. He has also appeared on Showtime and in the movie Outfoxed. Follow Peter on Twitter at @peterfhart.