An assistant editor with a right-wing magazine admitted in a column Saturday evening to posing as part of the 99 Percent Movement in D.C. “in order to mock and undermine” it. Patrick Howley, an assistant editor for the American Spectator, was committed enough to his deception to be at the vanguard of a demonstration that saw police firing pepper spray and closing a downtown Washington museum.
Someone must ask, why?
The inauguration of President Barack Obama, became Constitutionally legal on January 20, 2oo9: Inauguration Day. Hope among most of the nation flourished like a field of beautiful and refreshing tulips. Yet, there was a large part of the nation that continued to fester in angst, hatred, and dissonance. They had no interest in potential for change that was promised by the campaigning former Senator Obama. That large contingent sat silently as the previous Administration spent the nation into the precipice of another Great Depression. They sat quietly and showed no one iota of appreciation as the economy almost immediately screeched to a stop just shy of the perimeter of that depression.
The very same people quietly accepted an admission from the Bush Administration without comment. The 2007 recession started and ran one full year before admission by the Bush Administration that the recession had started one year earlier (i.e., December, 2007). The Bush financial team admitted the ‘closet’ recession after the election during the month of December 2008. Parallel to the deepening recession, financial experts warned of a complete financial collapse; financial bailouts ensued. A funny thing happened less than three months later. The nation saw the birth of a movement that was then believed to have been grass-roots. They called themselves the Tea Party.
The early Tea Party was a spectacle to say the very least. The crowds seemed markedly older than ‘standard’ protest crowds. They carried signage that denoted complete frustration with the Administration and some gave the Tea Party movement a very bad beginning. I recall placards and signs that seemed to cover every area of malcontent. ”Don’t Tread on Me,” “Stop the Spending,” and “No taxes,” were common at most Tea Party Rallies. After a few weeks the signage started to become hateful and vile, often with caricatures of President Obama in various states of visual contempt, from an African Witch Doctor, to ape-like pictorials, to moustached analogies to Adolf Hitler, to zombie faced signs. Over a matter of mere weeks the Tea Party rallies went from gray-haired to middle-aged, tee-shirt, baseball capped protests marches, to hate filled gatherings that were at times stoked by promotional media (Fox News). The Tea Party had taken on new life. A couple of notable things took hold in the Tea Party movement. Moneyed ‘uber’ wealthy supporters funded organized gatherings that were openly promoted by Fox News. Noted mouth-pieces like Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann plowed through the benefits of association with the crowds. They benefited as effectively as farmers plow fields to plant seeds that will eventually grow as life-sustaining crops. That metaphor is not wasted on the opportunistic Palin.
As we watched the Tea Party grow and become somewhat less than civil in some cases, there is one thing that was never present from the left. There was not outright instance of subterfuge that included efforts to infiltrate the party, their gatherings, nor they leadership groups. Even despite cases of totally un-American behavior such as spitting upon a Congressman as he proceeded to the Capital Building for the Heath Care Bill vote, to town-hall plants to disrupt open communication between Democratic representatives and their constituents, there was no infiltration nor subterfuge.
We are now in the fourth week of the Occupy Wall Street protests. We also have the first admission of infiltration from a reporter who works for a conservative publication. Why would the reporter wish to infiltrate a protest march? What is it about our Constitutional rights to free speech, and assembly would be of interest to a Right-Wing newspaper? If the motive for the infiltration was innocent and without malice, who gains? Did the Left act similarly against the Tea Party; that we do not know but we do know that the Left has yet to come-forth with obvious braggadocio about being in the middle of a Tea Party protest.
The liberal blog Fire Dog Lake, which labeled Howley an “agent provocateur,” used a detail of a photo shot of the protesters just inside the entrance, and lined it up with Howley’s Facebook profile photo..
According to Howley, “I got hit.” The conservative writer then went on to explain what exactly he was doing leading the charge past museum guards into the building itself:
[A]s far as anyone knew I was part of this cause — a cause that I hadinfiltrated the day before in order to mock and undermine in the pages of The American Spectator — and I wasn’t giving up before I had my story. Under a cloud of pepper spray I forced myself into the doors and sprinted blindly across the floor of the Air and Space Museum…
True to his admitted purpose, Howley mocked the 99 Percent Movement for a disorganized meeting at Freedom Plaza, the base camp for D.C.’s “Occupy Wall Street” franchise, derided the bulk of protesters for not disobeying the museum guards (“all of a sudden liberal shoes started marching less forcefully”), and said he was “proud” to get pepper sprayed:
I deserved to get a face full of high-grade pepper, and the guards who sprayed me acted with more courage than I saw from any of the protesters.
Howley claims to have accomplished his purpose of mocking the 99 percenters. He indicates that he got his story and as stated above gave praise to the museum guards for their professionalism.
I also feel that the guards performed their duties in the proper way, yet pepper spray concerns me. If it is against the policies of the Smithsonian to allow placards and signs into the museum, protesters who aimed to violate the restrictions were not acting with according to stated expectation of OWS spokespeople. They have asked that protesters do nothing to provoked police officers or building guards.
Will conservatives ever live-up to their oft claims of decency and respect for others by living within the confines of the law while respecting freedom of speech? The behavior of the Assistant Editor could be likened to those of the FBI as Hoover’s operative infiltrate civil right organizations, the (original ) Black Panthers and other right-wing organizations. You say, well those were acceptable operations as they helped to preserve the nation. If you ‘go there’ tell all how Howley’s actions work for the good of the nation? He claims to get a story. the photo above looks remarkably like one bent of a mission of the provocateur.
The OWS will do itself a real service if it can somehow remain mindful of the fact there are few limits to how deviant and underhanded powerful people in our nation will work to stifle reform.
Howley, is without question a provocateur, the question is, for what purpose? How long will it take conservative operatives to clone Howley’s subterfuge as a model for their deviate expertise?
Mr. Howley, police video taping protests marches and congressional leaders labeling Americans as “dangerous” and “mobs,” are actions very much like authoritarian and totalitarian behavior from those in power across Northern Africa.