As if New Yorkers don't already have enough to deal with, they must now brace for the arrival of pie-throwing, critter-liberating, bomb-building, arson-setting, spell-casting, utensil-stealing cop-haters wearing giant puppet heads.
This disruptive freak show will debut on Jan. 31 as part of something called the "Anti-Capitalist Convergence." New York City police officials expect thousands of these protesters to descend on a global economic forum being held at the Waldorf-Astoria hotel in midtown Manhattan. The five-day invasion of self-proclaimed "intergalactic anarchists" will be possibly violent and probably putrid (deodorant soap is corporate oppression, dude).
In the wake of the 1999 Seattle World Trade Organization riots and under the shadow of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, ivory-tower anarchists are working hard to put a warm-and-fuzzy face on this public paroxysm of disaffection. The organizers of this week's anti-everything-fest, led by Yale anthropology professor David Graeber, insist they are against terror and for peace.
But the list of "endorsers" still reads like a who's who of leftist thugs and hoodlums hell-bent on destroying all signs of law, order, commercialism, and technological progress -- excluding, of course, the protesters' own indispensable laptops, digital cameras, Palm Pilots, cell phones, pagers, and multimedia Web sites.
Leading the parade of supporters is the "Urban Guerrilla Unit" of the Earth Liberation Front (ELF), which along with the Animal Liberation Front (ALF), instructs members on how to build bombs and other incendiary devices. These domestic terrorist groups claimed responsibility for 137 "illegal direct actions" taken in North America last year, including: arson at the University of Washington that destroyed poplar tree research and several rare plants, causing $5.3 million in damages; arson at an egg farm in Snohomish County, Wash., that caused $1.5 million in damages; window smashing at a Wendy's restaurant in Gaithersburg, Md.; and vandalism at six Bank of New York facilities. Texas was the ELF and ALF's top target of destruction and mayhem; New York was second.
Another member of the anti-capitalist carnival: The North American Earth Liberation Prisoners Support Network, which organizes letter-writing campaigns to cheer up incarcerated eco-terrorists such as Unabomber Ted Kaczynski, who murdered three people and wounded nearly 30 others, and British animal rights nut Dave Blenkinsop, who attacked a cancer researcher in the head with a pickaxe handle.
Also glomming on to The Cause -- whatever it is -- are bizarre tag-alongs such as the Hoosic Valley (N.Y.) High School chapter of a group called No More Standardized Tests, the Global Pastry Uprising (infamous for tossing whipped-cream pies at CEOs), and the Virginia-based Goddess Center for Pagan Wombyn (a witches' coven whose goal is the "ReEstablishment of Matristic societies, GaiaWide!!!").
Other joiners: The Free and Critter Legal Defense Committee, which crusades on behalf of two jailed eco-arsonists in Oregon; Mark Taylor, a Princeton religion professor and founder of Educators for Mumia Abu-Jamal, which helps indoctrinate high school and college students about the convicted cop-killer's innocence; and Kevin Keating, a San Francisco-based agitator affiliated with the "Mission Yuppie Eradication Project," which advocates
vandalizing sport utility vehicles, blowing up restaurants, and throwing excrement at motorists.
Random acts of lawlessness appear to be well underway in New York City. At a planning meeting earlier this week, one protest leader casually advised her food committee (anarchists with committees? Mon dieu!) to filch silverware to stretch their budget: "She ordered everyone to 'liberate' forks and spoons from chain restaurants," The New York Times reported. "It's not really stealing, it's not really illegal, it's just obnoxious," she said.
And that pretty much sums up the twisted psyche of the American anarchist. From petty theft and vandalism to arson, assault and murder, this motley crew of carpers justifies its reprehensible actions as harmless strikes against "tyranny" and "terror." The event organizers even have the gall to compare themselves to New York's heroic firefighters, who they claim share a commitment to "direct action."
Some say we should just ignore these riot-prone bandits. I say take a good, long look. Today's hollow-headed, rock-throwing, anti-capitalist puppeteers are tomorrow's John Walker Lindhs.