As the bomb immediately produced millions of dollars in damages and worse still in human carnage, certain wealthy bankers and investors, like J. P. Morgan, braced themselves for a march on their homes by anti-capitalist mobs—a prelude to what happened in New York this time around. The September 17, 1920 New York Times, in a lengthy page-one article titled, “RED PLOT SEEN IN BLAST,” noted not only that Mr. Morgan’s home was being guarded but—in another similarity to the current Wall Street Occupation—that “many cities” around America were preparing their financial districts “against similar disaster.” Mayors nationwide worried about the Wall Street chaos metastasizing to their cities, organized by left-wing ringleaders connected to the New York fiasco.
It strikes me that today’s Wall Street Occupiers, as they go national, have become increasingly belligerent and violent. Reports abound of widespread theft, destruction of property, rampant drug use, sexual assaults from groping to alleged rape, knocking over trash cans, defecating on police cars, clashes with police—involving rocks, tear gas, riot gear, shouting down police as “Pigs”—stabbing threats, mass arrests, blatant anti-Semitism, refusals to report crimes, and all sorts of other violent outbursts. Incidents have occurred across the country, from New York to Boston to Baltimore to Cleveland to Denver to Oklahoma City to Oakland, California.
Democrats have responded to the Wall Street Occupiers in varying ways, from Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi's strange, “God bless them for their spontaneity,” to President Obama expressing empathy with their “frustrations.” “I understand the frustrations being expressed in those protests,” Obama told ABC’s Jake Tapper. “In some ways, they’re not that different from some of the protests that we saw coming from the Tea Party…. I think people feel separated from their government. They feel that their institutions aren’t looking out for them.” Likewise, Vice President Biden has framed the protests as a sort of leftist version of the Tea Party.
More generally, the Occupy Wall Street behavior is a cautionary tale to President Obama and Democrats: Class-based rhetoric and demagoguery is poisonous and destructive. Once the enraged masses spill into the streets in more and more cities, the chances for violence magnify exponentially. Class envy and hatred engenders an unhealthy rage. I’m amazed that the protests have not gotten much more violent. Gee, Roseanne Barr literally called for guillotining wealthy bankers—and she was deadly serious.
The September 17, 1920 New York Times was a picture of that violence. It was at newsstands on Wall Street the exact same day the current Wall Street Occupation took hold on September 17, 2011.
Is the date a coincidence? Yes, I think so, even as the symbolism is jarring. The planners in September 2011, as far as I can tell, have no idea of the irony of the set of dates, being inspired and led by other forces. Unless, that is, the devil has a sense of irony.
Dr. Paul Kengor is professor of political science at Grove City College, executive director of The Center for Vision & Values, and author of the book, “The Communist: Frank Marshall Davis, The Untold Story of Barack Obama’s Mentor.” His other books include "The Crusader: Ronald Reagan and the Fall of Communism" and "Dupes: How America’s Adversaries Have Manipulated Progressives for a Century."