Posts Tagged: OWS

Naomi Wolf Apologists Still Lack Facts

Since I wrote my original post on her ridiculous conclusion that the government is waging civil war on us and then another over on Crooks and Liars, the world has evidently gone mad. Take a look at the comments on Joshua Holland’s Alternet post debunking Naomi Wolf’s hackery for evidence of that.

Look, folks. Feeling like something must be true is not the same as truth. Feeling like DHS must be orchestrating a nationwide crackdown is not the same as DHS orchestrating a nationwide crackdown. Feeling is what Fox News relies on to disseminate disinformation and create a fantasy-based electorate.

Here’s what has come to light since I wrote the original post:

  • Mr. Ellis has responded to my Crooks and Liars post by essentially confirming that the “grand conspiracy” he alluded to in his first post does not exist at this time, or at least, he cannot confirm it. The only confirmation he could get was that the DHS was present in Portland. This should not come as a surprise, given that the OccupyPortland group was adjacent to federal property.
  • Milt Shook has an excellent post taking Ellis to task for hack rumor “journalism”. Ellis has responded to him in an update to his post responding to me, basically bickering over Ellis’ prior employment details rather than the facts Wolf claimed she gleaned from his story.
  • In fact, Mr. Ellis debunked his own conspiracy theory nine days before Naomi Wolf published her screed on The Guardian.
  • The DOJ has an open, active ongoing investigation of police brutality. There is no reason to expect the police actions at UC Davis and other protests would be excluded from that, but we still hear about how the administration is turning a blind eye to the brutality. As if brutality didn’t exist before the Occupy movement or something. Yeah, well. We know better.
  • Finally, Ms. Wolf has not deigned to justify or otherwise defend her indefensible piece. Her silence speaks as powerful a message as her nonsense writing.

Yet. There are arguments all over the Internet being posed in comments. Arguments that consultation with PERF is somehow evidence of a larger conspiracy even though PERF exists to minimize friction between police and citizens. Arguments that it just feels believable.

Progressives, you cannot have it both ways. You cannot argue that government is capable of good when it fits your agenda and assume without evidence that government is doing bad things. Every time you go down this rabbit hole you affirm the tenets of the right wing. Every single time. Strict civil libertarians will argue all day long that civil liberties are being breached and perhaps they are. But that does not mean the ones breaching are at the top of the federal government, no matter how good it might feel to think so.

Naomi Wolf tried to do grave harm to the Occupy movement, and yet they defend her! How did she do harm? Here’s how. When she spewed out her unsupported and unsubstantiated theory that the federal government with full blessing of the President and Congress is waging a bloody civil war on its citizens, she alienated ordinary people, because it doesn’t pass the smell test for those people. People who get their Social Security checks every month and find that their Medicare cards still work at the doctor and who receive unemployment checks and food stamps are not necessarily inclined to believe the issuers of those benefits have declared war on them.

Naomi Wolf did harm to the progressive movement with that screed, because she aligned with the extreme right wing in the name of the Occupy movement. It isn’t the first time she pretends to be progressive while echoing right wing tropes. She called the President Hitler’s equal.She demanded rape victims expose their identities in order to level an accusation of rape, all for the sake of defending Julian Assange. This, from a woman who has the gall and temerity to call herself a feminist.

Both of those ideas are enormously popular on the right. Move far enough left, and I suppose that’s where you land. But in the process, she and others who insist on this kind of rhetoric alienate people who are not extreme ideologues on either side and do harm to the movements they claim to support.

AngryBlackLady has rounded up all of the pieces to this story and put them in once place, while tying a great big red ribbon around it called “truthless”. I highly recommend you read it in its entirety, but I will quote her here because she sums up the insanity of this whole episode well:

This is what Fox News does. This is what the right-wing does. This is not what liberals are supposed to do. We live in a reality-based world. In a world where Hawaii is a state, Africa is a continent, President Obama is not a secret Muslim, and anchor babies aren’t real.

We don’t live in a Teabilly Fox-infected world that thrives on fear of the unknown boogeyman hiding in the closet. We don’t live in a world where “journalists” spew bullshit designed to manipulate and play upon the fears of their readers. We don’t live in a world where “Well, I wouldn’t be surprised if Naomi Wolf’s made-up claims are true” constitutes critical thinking.

And if I’m wrong — if we do live in a world fraught with feverished paranoia? If this is what progressivism and liberalism has become, then we’re fucked. If we cannot rely on progressive and liberal journalists and bloggers to tell the truth and do their jobs, then we’re no better than the wingnuts. Should we take credible sources and concerns about potential federal involvement and investigate them? Absolutely. Should we draw conclusions from unsourced claims and tout them as The Truth. Absolutely not.

We can’t call out Fox News for this kind of crap while engaging in it ourselves.

This is just not who we are.

Finally, I’m going to address the accusation that because I support President Obama, I can’t possibly be right about Wolf. This is some of the weirdest logic leaping I’ve ever seen. Again, I reiterate. Facts are facts. When you write a piece alleging an undeclared civil war by the President and Congress with no truth or facts under it, I have the right to call bullshit. Whether I support the President or not has nothing to do with it. Lies are lies; hysteria is hysteria; paranoia is paranoia, and it’s absurd to suggest that they should go unchallenged because I support the President. If there were a shred of truth to Wolf’s assertions, that would be the argument to make. Trying to marginalize mine because of who I support politically is nothing more than an effort to spin away the truth of this matter: Wolf has invented a civil war that isn’t there.

For those who insist on making this a partisan issue despite the fact that it’s really a truth issue, consider this: Who benefits from paranoia and hysterical factless accusations? I assure you it is not progressives. Or liberals. Think on that before feeling like they must be right.

Bonus link: PoliticusUSA

How Bullshit Magically Turns Into Fact

I used to write these stories debunking the right wing only, and usually in the context of Fox News. But lately, it seems as though the entire angry political blogosphere, whether right, left or libertarian, seems to need to magically transform bullshit into fact. I’m going to give you two examples of how this works so you can actually figure out for yourself why it’s important to keep your critical thinking cap on.

Shriek loudly! The DHS has infiltrated OWS on behalf of the 1%!!!!

Naomi Wolf wrote a nonsensical piece today that’s being spammed all over Twitter. It asserts that there is a deliberate plot afoot via collusion by the United States Congress, the Department of Homeland Security and our oligarchical overlords to undermine the very populist, leaderless Occupy Wall Street movement. One of her key pieces of evidence is an unsupported and unverified report that 18 mayors coordinated their crackdowns with the Department of Homeland Security. There’s only one problem with that: It’s nothing more than innuendo. Here, let me show you.

Here are the two links she provides as evidence: One to Wonkette; the other to Both articles point back to this absurd article on the site (a very, very right-wing Phil Anschutz, write-out-of-your-butt-with-no-evidence kind of site). Washingtonsblog goes one step further, updating with this:

(And for those who are understandably doubtful about as a news source,here’s an AP story from a couple hours ago that verifies everything except the specific mention of DHS coordination.)

Got that? The headlines on both of these stories (Wonkette and WashingtonsBlog) were splayed across the sites in very large heading fonts: “Homeland Security Coordinated….” and yet the AP confirms everything BUT DHS coordination. Still, that didn’t stop Wolf from ignoring the AP story entirely and writing a piece for the Guardian that included links to bolster her argument that clearly don’t.

Open Letter to Occupy Wall Street #OWS

Earlier this week, Elon James tweeted this:

“Oh? The NYPD are treating you badly? Violent for no reason? Weird.” – Black People

You can buy the T-shirt here.

You might think this is snark but it’s not. I spent some time tonight looking at police brutality in the pre-Occupy Wall Street days. You know. The stuff that doesn’t make the national news because it’s sort of icky and ugly and people don’t really want to know that in this day and age, police are still brutal. That pepper-spraying children as young as 9, killing 7-year olds in police raids, and beating special needs students in the school hallway with no provocation still happens in this country. It does, and I’m hearing a whole lot of stories about it because the outrage doesn’t ever seem to begin until, well…it’s not black or hispanic people in front of the billy clubs.

At the end of this post, there is an open letter from my friend Black Canseco. It’s a little bit angry. It’s a little bit sarcastic. It’s a little bit harsh. And it’s completely true. He’s right. Police brutality is an issue, but then, it’s always been an issue, and it should definitely be a part of this national conversation we’re having about inequality. Handcuffs, rubber bullets, pepper spray and clubs are routine for people of color. Routine. So he and others have a point when they ask why it’s only an issue now. Whether you agree or disagree with Black Canseco, I think there are points of agreement about the militarization of police. They’ve perfected those arts in neighborhoods where many would never go.

Here is only one story. Jordan Miles. Honor Student. Viola player. Never in trouble. Beaten to a pulp one day. The District Attorney refused any investigation of the officers who did this and is fully uncooperative with the family’s civil suit. That means the officers who beat the stuffing out of Jordan Miles are still on the payroll, still out on the beat.  This story is only one of many. Try a search on YouTube for police brutality while filtering out OWS, Occupy, and UC Davis. For every video (and there are thousands) on YouTube, there are thousands more that go unrecorded.