To illustrate its Person of the Year cover story, Time magazine posted a gallery of portraits on its website. On Page 11 of the gallery is a portrait of Egyptian-American journalist Mona Eltahawy, who was "arrested and assaulted by police in Cairo." Beside her is the portrait of Ray Lewis, a retired Philadelphia police officer arrested at… Occupy Wall Street. Just two peas in a photographic pod.
Page 13 of the gallery features "Jack," an Occupy Oakland protester "wounded by a projectile fired by police." Note the similarity in phrasing between the lines describing Jack's experience and Mona Eltahawy's. Just two innocent victims of a runaway police state.
After two more pages of Syrian and Egyptian protesters (one of the Syrians said he was "tortured for three days"), and we get to a portrait of young Molly Katchpole. Molly endured the unspeakable brutality of anticipating the arrival of Bank of America's $5-a-month debit-card fee. Bravely, she started an online petition asking the bank not to impose the fee. It didn't. She was saved. Time pictures beside her a cut-to-pieces Bank of America debit card in the same way it pictured beside the Syrian protesters two pages earlier a broken iPhone that had belonged to one of them. A never-enacted $5 bank fee = arrest and torture.
Throughout the gallery of mostly Egyptian, Spanish, Greek, Syrian, Tunisian protesters are six Occupy Oakland protesters, three Occupy Wall Street protesters, one pair of Occupy The Hood protesters, and a woman who wore a manifesto on her back that denounced Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker. There are two Tea Partiers thrown in apparently for balance.
Missing was a photo of a single London "protester." But of course, they weren't protesters so much as rioters, you say. Ah, but they were listed, along with all the others, in the cover story.
It would be preposterous to link all of these protests together, as if they were part of one, great, worldwide movement, or to equate them, as though their various protagonists were agents in causes of equivalent moral validity. But Time does:
It's remarkable how much the protest vanguards share. Everywhere they are disproportionately young, middle class and educated. Almost all the protests this year began as independent affairs, without much encouragement from or endorsement by existing political parties or opposition bigwigs. All over the world, the protesters of 2011 share a belief that their countries' political systems and economies have grown dysfunctional and corrupt -- sham democracies rigged to favor the rich and powerful and prevent significant change. They are fervent small-d democrats. Two decades after the final failure and abandonment of communism, they believe they're experiencing the failure of hell-bent megascaled crony hypercapitalism and pine for some third way, a new social contract.
The students and professionals standing up to the military in Tahrir Square were protesting "crony hypercapitalism"? The hooligans who burned London were justified in their looting and arson? This is not reporting; this is unadulterated socialistic propaganda.
If that were not clear enough, Time asserts this of the London rioters -- who, by the way, killed three innocent men who tried to defend their property from the roving hordes:
In early August, after police in London shot and killed a young black man they were arresting, riots broke out all over England. Naturally, the rioters' instantly resorting to violence attracted little sympathy. Yet a new, three-month study by the Guardian and the London School of Economics concluded that these rioters were also protesters, motivated by anger about poverty, unemployment and inequality as well as overaggressive policing.
Murder? Not mentioned. Arson? Not mentioned. Robbing a schoolboy in broad daylight? Not mentioned. Must've been among the numerous acts inspired by "anger about poverty, unemployment," etc.
Shootings, rapes, assaults at Occupy Wall Street protests? Not mentioned. It's all one, glorious, global uprising for justice. Never mind the blood.
Later, in conclusion, cover story writer Kurt Andersen worries that the pure, "liberal" movement will exchange "the moral high ground" that it occupies for a share of actual political power. When I tweeted objections to Time's "Person of the Year" yesterday, some people responded that Time was not granting its designation as an "honor" but merely a recognition of influence. One does not grant "the moral high ground" without granting approval as well.
Undeniably, Time is passing a moral judgment, declaring that these movements share the same basic -- and socially positive -- motivations and goals. In so praising these varied movements, it legitimizes and elevates them. And by praising their spirit, goals, and broad actions without denouncing (or often even mentioning) the violence and destruction perpetrated on behalf of some of them, it legitimizes the violence and destruction.
Failing to mention the closed Milk Street Café near Zuccotti Park or the London mattress store burned to cinders or the businesses smashed and torched in Vancouver (sports hooligans are protesters, too) silences the victims of the Western protests. They become collateral damage in what Time views as a justified leftist crusade against "hypercapitalism." (The only Tea Party mention in the entire story was to dismiss the movement as "the tail wagging the Republican Party dog.") It is a justified crusade even if it is undertaken by some for the sole purpose of escaping the bad decision of incurring tens of thousands of dollars in student loan debts for worthless liberal arts degrees.
The icing on the cake is Andersen's glossing over serious concerns about Islamist parties rising in Egypt and Tunisia. He compares them -- favorably -- to "Republican hardliners" in the USA, saying they care more about building consensus than the GOP does. I guess he missed this, from Egyptian Salafi preacher Mohamed Zoghbi earlier this year (as reported in the Los Angeles Times):
"Our goal is to achieve an Islamic caliphate with Islamic sharia rules. If Egypt becomes a caliphate, then the Middle East and Arab countries will follow our path. All Muslim youth should strive and die to build this caliphate even over their own bodies."
Yeah, just like the Republican Party. Egyptian Christians are fleeing the country in fear for their lives, and Andersen depicts Republicans as less tolerant than the Islamists who want to turn Egypt into the home base for global jihad.
This is illustrative of the moral corruption of the whole essay, which is a corruption on par with the American left's deliberate misrepresentation of Soviet communism in the 20th century. It is the willful attempt to replace reality with a fiction that the reader will then believe, causing him to act contrary to his own interests and the interests of others. And it is all done in the name of the people. So remember, the next time a protester shuts down your favorite café, loots your store, or joins with his buddies to halt trade and cost workers millions of dollars in lost wages, he's just raising his fist in solidarity with the freedom fighters risking their lives for the right to self-determination halfway around the globe. He is they, and they are him. Or something.
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