Behind Enemy Lines: How the SLU College Republicans Occupied Occupy DC
By: Amy Lutz

          While in Washington DC for CPAC 2012, Brandon, Kelsey and I decided to take a walking tour of our nation’s capital in the frigid February weather. As we strolled down K Street, we (somewhat intentionally) stumbled upon Occupy DC’s encampment at McPherson Park. While Kelsey and I at first kept a safe distance by taking pictures of the movement’s signs from across the street, Brandon marched boldly into the center of the camp. After several minutes, Brandon was nowhere to be found, so Kelsey and I decided to search for our fellow CR. Considering the environment, we had no idea what kind of trouble he could have gotten into.

            Soon, we spotted Brandon in the middle of the camp speaking with none other than the leaders of Occupy DC in all of their unwashed glory. Cautiously, Kelsey and I crept up behind Brandon and inserted ourselves into the conversation. We did not, however, give any indication of our conservatism. In fact, we posed as Occupy sympathizers and questioned the leaders about the aims of the movement, nodding in agreement at each reference of the “evil 1%.”

As “Occupy’s most famous protesters,” (giant rats) scurried around our feet, the Occupiers weaved a tale of income inequality, conservative bigotry, and free speech infringement. When we inquired about their plan to occupy a conservative conference[O1]  (which we happened to be attending) taking place in the nation’s capital, they freely handed over literature describing their plan to “Occupy CPAC.” According to the DC protesters, CPAC is one of the country’s biggest gatherings of “racist, extreme, bigoted, right wing” conservatives. I nodded in fervent agreement, making sure not to let my CPAC agenda slip out of my pocket and reveal our undercover operation. One of the flyers we received claimed that the movement aims to “respect others’ rights to have different opinions.” It also stated that “different points of view encourage discussion, growth and further understanding.” However, on the Occupy flyer advertising Occupy CPAC included a statement that read “We’ve heard enough from the 1%!” Hypocrisy anyone? One of the Occupiers also expressed disgust and outrage that conservatives were being given an opportunity to express their disappointment in our nation’s movement towards extreme multiculturalism. Apparently the only free speech rights Occupiers value are their own.

            At one point, one of us praised Occupy for remaining a “peaceful movement,” and it took everything in me not to burst out laughing at the irony. One of the leaders hesitated, claiming that Occupy DC is NOT a peaceful movement. He even acknowledged that many of the Occupiers’ actions are, in fact, illegal. There’s a reason why the flag of the movement is a fist, not a peace sign, he explained. The same Occupier did claim, however, that his movement is one of nonviolence. Sort of. While the movement itself does not condone violence, they “stood in solidarity” with anyone who acted out violently in the name of Occupy DC. Not only were the Occupiers comfortable with violence, they seemed to be open to it. When they spoke of their plans to Occupy CPAC, one of the protesters claimed that “there will be shield and batons” when they go “toe to toe” with the one-percent supporting CPAC attendees. Thankfully, in the end that was a bust. On Friday afternoon, after 300-400 Occupiers stormed the Marriot Wardman Park Hotel, they were pushed back by the police. Additionally, dozens of CPAC attendees confronted them, chanting “get a job” over and over again.

            Half an hour into our conversation with the Occupiers, one of the leaders elaborated more fully on the nature of the movement. He claimed that, although he was a facilitator of Occupy DC, he was not the “face of the movement.” In fact, he quickly proclaimed that for a movement like his to become successful, he and all Occupiers had to “suppress their egos” in favor of Occupy’s collectivist nature. The Occupier acknowledged that the movement is not about certain individuals. It’s about the larger movement itself. “You’re the face of the movement,” he claimed while pointing a gloved hand at me. Little did he know that this face of the movement is a card carrying Republican.

            Though the aforementioned occupier insisted that humility was a vital part of maintaining the movement’s purity, the arrogance of these people was truly astounding. As Kelsey, Brandon and I spoke to the Occupiers, they consistantly put themselves on par with heroes like our Founding Fathers, Martin Luther King Jr. and Nelson Mandela. Right, holing up in a decrepit encampment surrounded by misspelled protest signs is certainly analogous with the actions of such historical giants. Not. In addition to aligning themselves with America’s heroes, they also claimed affinity with some of the world’s largest villains. At one point, one of the Occupiers stated that although he “disagreed with their politics,” he supported Fidel Castro and Che Guevara in the Cuban Revolution because they “f****** did something.” I found it unsurprising that the same Occupier who hesitated to label his movement “peaceful” would not be uncomfortable with the violence exemplified by Castro and Guevara.

            In addition to witnessing the collectivist, turbulent nature of Occupy DC, we also got a glimpse into its future. They claimed that the movement has slowed in intensity, but at the same time is also garnering financial support. Often, “uptight looking white people” will stop by their tent and quietly drop a few dollars into their collection bucket. One man even donated over $600 worth of food for the campers at McPherson Park. The movement thrives on these “grassroots” contributions and shies away from large donors because, as one Occupier claimed, “large amounts of money f*** up occupations.” (Please ignore the fact that the CPAC Occupiers were paid to stand outside the hotel and protest on Friday afternoon). Additionally, the Occupiers strongly declared that they would not be leaving anytime soon, as their Occupation was “indefinite.” Although they might appear to be dying out, I got the impression from the Occupiers we spoke to that this was desired, if not intentional. If we all believe that they are fading away, we’ll “never see them coming” when they emerge stronger than ever.

            As I became more uncomfortable with the environment, I nudged Brandon, silently letting him know that we needed to escape as soon as possible. Although the Occupiers talked our ears off for several more minutes, we eventually slipped out of the rat-infested, unsanitary, unsettling epicenter of DC’s Occupy movement. Was it the wisest idea to march into Occupy DC’s camp and pose as sympathizers, exposing ourselves to the most unsettling, unsafe aspects of the movement? Probably not. However, as we stepped across enemy lines, we got a new understanding of the movement. We now more clearly understand their motivations and goals. And, if nothing else, it sure makes one hell of a story.
Pizza, Bagels and Occupy Wall Street: How Liberal Activism is Self-Discrediting 
By: Amy Lutz

As my eyes absentmindedly glanced through the stories on The Huffington Post (don’t worry, I wasn’t actually searching for hard-hitting news stories), the word “pizza” diverted my gaze. Hoping to get a laugh from a possible Herman Cain joke, I clicked on the story. What I found was much different than a brief piece of comic relief. The article[1] “NYPD Allegedly Steals Pizza from ‘Robin Hoods,’ Housing Works Demands Restitution,” told the tale of how NYPD officers had “sadistically” eaten two pizzas sent to 8 protesters posing as “Robin Hoods” during a “die-in” sponsored by Occupy Wall Street, Vocal-NY and World AIDS day organizers in New York City. During the protest, activists dressed up in Robin Hood-esque attire are went so far as speaking in British accents to get their message across. The ‘Robin Hoods’ harnessed the “take from the rich and give to the poor” mantra of the famous character to demand a Financial Transaction Tax on Wall Street and a millionaire’s tax in New York to fund the fight against AIDS. Several protesters were eventually arrested for blocking traffic. That night, at Manhattan’s 7th precinct, police officers allegedly did not provide a meal for the arrested protestors and even ate two pizzas sent to the Robin Hoods by Housing Works, a left leaning activist organization that seeks to end homelessness and AIDS. The next day, a press release issued Housing Works initiated the allegations that the officers “sadistically” consumed pizza in front of the imprisoned protesters. How one can “sadistically” eat pizza, I’m not sure, but that was only the beginning of the barrage of negative attacks against the NYPD. A New York Times blog even accused the officers of “brutality[2]” Although it has not been proven that this event actually occurred, it’s the giving season, so I’ll give the protesters the benefit of the doubt. Sure, the decision to consume the two pizzas might have been in bad taste (pun intended), but as usual, the media focused on only a small portion of the actual story and neglected to look at the situation in a rational way. I mean, really, if the media is ignoring the behavior of the protesters themselves an instead calling something as small as eating pizza “police brutality,” we’ve got a bigger problem on our hands. Either the mainstream media believes that Americans are by nature stupid or they’ve completely detached themselves from reality. Perhaps it’s a bit of both.

Can I just look at this rationally for a second? Over the last two months, the Occupy Wall Street movement has done just about everything to discredit itself.  The ridiculous Robin Hood costumes and other strange attire are perhaps the most innocent part of the movement (the same “Robin Hood” activists actually dressed up as bagels[2] last year. Yes, bagels). Rape, disease, and crime are pervasive in the camps that have popped up in cities all around the country. Useful idiots with little civic education make up the majority of the protestors. They march around the dirty encampments, usually blocking traffic, preaching phrases like “fair share” and “the evil 1%” without really knowing what they are talking about. The type of activism that makes up the Occupy movement is filled with ignorance, crime, and ridiculousness. And we’re worried about a couple pizzas? I think perhaps we need to be more worried about a society that puts up with this kind of behavior, let alone takes it seriously. I mean, these people are walking around dressed up as BAGELS and we give them the time of day? No thank you. Please come back when you actually have something important to say; or even better, when you have something valuable to contribute to society. Give me a well thought out, researched argument for your position and then we’ll talk. The mainstream media might warp the message in order to portray Occupiers as rational, heroic individuals but even propaganda (and exaggerated claims of police brutality) can’t hide the ridiculousness of the movement. Until Occupy Wall Street fizzles out, I plan on merely sitting back and watching the protesters, and by extension their supportive media allies, discredit themselves.



The Glamour of Knowledge and Dangers of Intellectual Servitude
By: Amy Lutz

James Madison once said, “Knowledge will forever govern ignorance; and people who mean to be their own governors must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives.”  In the words of the cliché, knowledge is power. Our Founders knew that a flourishing republic requires a well-educated citizenry. When people forsake the pursuit of knowledge, they surrender their power as well. Benjamin Franklin, never at a loss for words, made the point. “A nation of well-informed men who have been taught to know and prize the rights which God has given them cannot be enslaved.  It is in the religion of ignorance that tyranny begins.”  Knowledge is essential to self-government. Ignorance results in external control. According to Thomas Jefferson, “A democracy cannot be both ignorant and free.”  Knowledge allows us to maintain and make the most of our liberty, but when laziness and ignorance emerge, freedom is vulnerable to theft. 

Please see the rest of this post at What Would the Founders Think?