TAMPA—I can’t say for sure, but something tells me Andrew Breitbart—the guy who defended the Tea Party from charges of racism and famously stood up for gay conservatives—wouldn’t approve of the term “race war” being thrown around in the documentary that’s supposed to be his swan song and legacy.
Yet there it was, in “Occupy Unmasked,” which premiered this afternoon at Liberty Plaza outside the Tampa convention center. The comment came from Anita MonCrief, the ACORN whistleblower who is herself black, which is presumably why the documentarians decided it was appropriate to include. In the movie she says the Occupy movement has the same goal in “phase two” as William Luther Pierce and Charles Manson, “race war.”
In the Q&A after the movie I asked MonCrief to elaborate on her comment. Her response was fairly galling:
“You aren’t going to see black people occupying Zucotti Park, because there’s no place to plug in our hairdriers and stuff. But seriously, that’s why you have Barack Obama out there saying if he had a son, he would look like Trayvon Martin. … they want black people running around in hoodies protesting in the streets. That’s what he’s looking for. … He wants us divided, and he wants us to fight in the streets, so they can basically keep us down.”
Lee Stranahan, a member of the cast, tried to defend the statement by saying everyone he talked to at Occupy said they did indeed have problems with racism. He added, “yesterday a friend of mine went up to a Romneyville leader, and they’re talking about racism there! That’s racism from another movement.” Now Lee, you probably know this by now, but when overeducated upper-middle class liberal activists call something racist, you have to take that with a grain of salt.
The overall effect of all this talk, from the people who defended the Tea Party from charges of racism, amounts to, ‘no, you’re racist.’
Larry Solov, who is now CEO of the organization bearing Breitbart’s name, introduced his late friend’s vision for the film, saying, “He understood intuitively, in a way that only Andrew could, what the Occupy movement was all about.”
Having spent some time covering Occupy DC this fall and speaking with the organizers, I noticed that one of their more obvious grievances was with the way the Democratic Party’s organizing machine, especially the SEIU, was co-opting what they saw as a grassroots movement. When I asked about the tension, Stranahan dismissed these people as dupes. Who knows, maybe they are, but acknowledging the conflict would have given the film more credibility. These unions, the movie claims, are the key instrument connecting the Alinskyite radical Barack Obama to the Occupy anarchists.
They must have left Andrew Breitbart’s keener insights into the movement on the cutting room floor, because most of the clips of him in the movie are utterly juvenile: “[Occupy is] raping and pillaging and pooping, and the mainstream media ignores it!”
The movie does seem to have a Todd Akin-like fascination with the Occupy rapes, which were admittedly under-covered in most media outlets, but was the best closing clip they could find really Breitbart yelling at protesters, “stop raping people, stop raping people, stop raping the[ital mine] people”?
That’s the kind of slip of the tongue that passes for profundity among these people.
The movie paints a picture of activists dead-set on antagonizing riot cops to incite a response and thereby attract media attention; no mention is made of any questionable actions of law enforcement throughout the movement’s several months of national media attention. This is strange, because former Daily Caller video reporter Michelle Fields is featured several times in the film, and she and her videographer were beaten by the NYPD in November. I spoke to her immediately after the incident and filed this report.
In fairness, there are interesting bits, largely courtesy of activist-turned-FBI informant Brandon Darby about how the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina gave birth to the current arrangement of left-wing activist nonprofits. The introductory section centered on the New York Times freelancer/activist who was arrested on the Brooklyn Bridge is also interesting, though it’s a strange place to start the story of Occupy. The movie briefly mentions Kalle Lasn, the editor of Adbusters who is widely credited with coming up with the idea of the movement, but there’s no insight into who he is, what his beliefs are, or what motivates him.
Look, I’m sympathetic to the basic narrative of “Occupy Unmasked.” Occupy was never primarily a bottom-up movement; it was orchestrated by the professional left, which seized the post-financial crisis moment in which the public was uniquely concerned with income inequality as a political issue. And regardless of its supposed decentralized character initially, by the end unions were pulling most of the weight—sometimes by paying people to attend rallies. But if Citizens United, Magnolia Pictures (which has picked up the film for wide distribution this fall), and Breitbart’s filmmakers think they’re descending from on high to deliver the grand revelation that Occupy isn’t the spontaneous movement the media said it was, they’re nuts. Everyone already knew that. There’s very little that’s new about the film, especially David Horowitz’s ranting about communist atrocities–the man’s an anti-left careerist, who cares if the Berlin Wall fell more than 20 years ago. And to claim that beneath the mask is a “race war” is a terrible way of bringing people over to your side.