A lesson in Dallas

Brent Bozell

6/5/2002 12:00:00 AM - Brent Bozell
An anti-corporate lynch mob showed up in Dallas for the ExxonMobil shareholders meeting. Their language was intemperate, their historical comparisons absurd, and their demands on a major oil company could be reduced to one word: surrender. Ever since radical mobs with a violent and thoroughly anti-capitalist agenda stormed Seattle, many in our media have treated the parade of anti-corporate hooligans with kid gloves, awarding them instant idealism on the front pages, giving their spokesmen precious airtime for their soundbites, and presenting them without any notice of an ideological bone in their bodies. At best they are dreamers; at worst, confused. To see what these people are really like, see CNSNews.com reporter Marc Morano's report from the scene of the leftists' "mock trial" of ExxonMobil in Dallas. Prosecutor David Cobb, the local Green Party candidate for Attorney General of Texas, compared the oil giant to Adolf Hitler's dictatorship. "Just as the Nazi party had to take over the democratically elected government in Germany to achieve its goals, so, too, did ExxonMobil take over aspects of our democratically elected government to achieve its ends." Ask yourself this question: In all the news reports about the Green Party you've watched on the networks, have you ever (END ITAL) seen their political agenda described this way? You haven't, because to report on the reality of the Green Party's agenda is to shatter the illusion so painstakingly promoted by its sympathizers. The ExxonMobil meeting wasn't just a magnet for anarchists outside the meeting, but also for more mainstream liberal activists inside the meeting, like established green groups and the gay left. On the Web site of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, one small preview reported on their efforts: "Social activists, ranging from environmental, alternative energy and social policy proponents, will present shareholders with eight proposals." Why can't reporters in America find the term "leftist" ... or the more appropriate, "radical leftist" ... in their dictionaries? They're not helping their readers understand politics with vague and meaningless terms like "social policy proponents." The leftists demanded that ExxonMobil divert its oil revenues into alternative-fuel schemes like solar energy -- still uneconomical after all these years -- and offer domestic-partner benefits for homosexual employees, which presumably has something to do with environmental issues. When these liberal proposals were rejected by almost 80 percent of the shareholders, the Star-Telegram didn't report the liberals were routed. Heavens, no. They told a warm story about high-fiving activists convinced that doubling their vote from 10 to 20 percent meant that a shareholder-endorsed socialist utopia was not far behind. But there was another story unfolding in Dallas that week. When the anarchists came to protest outside the meeting, this time conservatives counter-protested, and the startled left-wing mob was routed. Activists from Citizens for a Sound Economy and the Congress for Racial Equality showed up for a little sidewalk debate, armed with signs like "Capitalism Rocks," "Stop Global Whining," and "Greenpeace Hates America." As Morano reported, "I think we rattled them. They're packing up their bags and leaving,' stated Niger Innis of the Congress on Racial Equality. 'Victory is sweet,' he added." There's a lesson in Dallas for conservatives. Hitting the street and answering that leftist rant is one way even a small group of conservatives can force their message to stand next to the radicals in the so-called mainstream press. Just don't expect much coverage from the press. Liberal activists still dominated the Star-Telegram coverage, while the conservatives only had their slogans quoted. (You could tell the reporters were shocked when they described counter-protesters who were, gasp, "questioning the validity of ecological concerns.") But any time a story about an oil company protest includes the words "Oil Employs, Anarchy Destroys," it's a good day in the newspaper for conservatives. Too many reporters arrive at a business story with the prospective idea that there are only two sides, the Marxist caricature of Capital versus Labor -- the stuffed-shirt, bottom-line titans of Profit opposed to the scruffy, lovable humanitarians of Not for Profit. But the events in Dallas proved the presence of conservative protesters and journalists can ensure that left-wing militants and liberals alike can be refuted within (somewhat) and without the mainstream press. When supposedly skeptical journalists go soft on the left, we need reporters like Marc Morano who can question them on hypocrisy -- as in Dallas, when he asked a group of "green" radicals why they showed up at an oil-bashing rally in a big Ford Econoline van. And we need a little army of conservative protesters in every big city when a business is targeted for "idealism." Show them there's another side: everyday people who love freedom, love America, and appreciate the bounty of goods and services that free enterprise provides.