Wednesday, October 19th, 2011
69

Why the Tea Party Hates Occupy Wall Street

Bill Ayers is the human wormhole linking those mythical dirty, un-American hippies of the 1960s to the Obama administration to the also-dirty socialists of the rising #occupy movement. On October 13th, the conservative blog American Thinker giddily entertained the hypothetical of an Occupy Wall Street movement that would "morph into something resembling the radical factions of the late 1960s and 1970s"—when "it will not be just Ayers and [spouse Bernardine] Dohrn with blood on their hands. It will be their young protégé in the White House as well."

For some, the stretch to make the 60s connection is done out of ignorance. For others it is a way to unload on a new generation the purported sins of the old. The whole mess came together on a recent windy Saturday in Milwaukee, when both the #occupy movement and the Tea Party picked up protest signs and took to the streets. Bill Ayers was in town.

* * *

"Smelly."—Erick Erickson, CNN Contributor and editor-in-chief of RedState.com.

"Before I arrived, I could smell the stench of their unwashed bodies."—Scott Brooks, 2010 candidate for Minnesota state legislature.

"These days a 'progressive' is someone who believes indoor plumbing is a tool of oppression."—James Taranto, Wall Street Journal writer

"Who knew pubic lice would be so down with protesting the banksters, too?!"—Andrew Breitbart, founder of BigGovernment.com

What all of these conservative activists and thought leaders have in common, besides a future at the Laugh Factory, is that they were far too young to have experienced the 1960s protest stereotypes they parrot. Taranto was born in 1966, Breitbart in 1969 and Erickson in 1975. The "dirty hippie" narrative of protesters is one they have picked up through the Hollywood myth-making machine (whose cultural influence they often decry). Just how not new is this narrative? This weekend saw reports of U.S. service members in Boston being spit on by #occupy protesters. Spitting on returning Vietnam troops was, of course, maybe the most lasting legacy of the 1960s protesters—a legacy comprehensively debunked a few years ago.

As Jerry Lembcke wrote in 2005 in The Boston Globe: "I found nothing. No news reports or even claims that someone was being spat on. What I did find is that around 1980, scores of Vietnam-generation men were saying they were greeted by spitters when they came home from Vietnam." The proliferation of this urban legend, Lembcke argued, "intimidates a new generation of activists now finding the courage to resist Vietnam-type ventures in the 21st century."

Not that the left isn't also making this tragic comparison to the past. "Is #OWS The Revolution The Beatles Were Singing About? We think so," fawned Democracy inaction group MoveOn.org.

So while plugging analysis of the new #occupy movement into the rubric of the 1960s is the only way conservatives seem to have of explaining what's going on, it's not just them. Proving that few pundits can think beyond the paint-by-number, ad-man Donny Deutsch went on MSNBC and predicted that what "will happen" in the #occupy movement is some Kent State "imagery." (Deutsch was 12 on May 4, 1970, the day the National Guard opened fire on protesters at the Ohio campus, killing four.)

And nowhere does the right's spite for the dirty hippies of the 60s marry into its contempt for the modern left better than with Chicago education professor William "Bill" Ayers.

Wisconsin's MacIver Institute (a conservative propaganda organization dolled up to look like a conventional news service) called Ayers visit to Milwaukee on the same day as the Occupy Milwaukee event "a moment of synchronicity." After linking Ayers to Obama to the #occupy movement, and noting that "The left in Wisconsin has a lot in common with Ayers and others who practice terrorism," MacIver reporter James Wigderson wrote, "So much of the current activism on the political left is nostalgia for the 1960s without remembering what really happened."

"What really happened" is exactly what landed me at the "Protest Ayers" event in Milwaukee.

"Professor Terror!" yelled one of the 40-odd conservatives gathered to protest the appearance of Bill Ayers at the Stonefly Brewery in Milwaukee's slowly gentrifying Riverwest neighborhood. Five bike police relaxed and flanked the scene. But around the corner, out of sight, were six or seven more officers with a paddywagon.

Organizer Sara Conrad told me she is "a writer for AOL-Patch" and that she organized the event because "We don't agree with bringing a terrorist to Milwaukee." When asked what specifically Ayers did that was so horrible, Conrad said, "He was the founder of the Weather Underground and was involved in killing police officers. He was as much an anarchist as he was a Marxist." But what really upsets Conrad the most is that "He's not repentant. He has not disavowed the organization and has even said he may have to use bombs again."

("Of course I did my due diligence before I organized this event," she said.)

"Jane Fonda loves you!" yelled someone from the Protest Ayers group at the 30 or so people loitering around outside the Brewery.

It would be an understandable mistake to think Fox News or The Heritage Foundation or even anti-terrorism Sharia watchdog Pamela Geller had been dogging Ayers since 2001 and immediately exposed his connection to Obama when the Illinois Senator announced his candidacy. But no, it was an early February 2008 London Daily Mail piece by Hitchens.

No, the other one.

The right never gave two twigs about Bill Ayers. His importance as a terrorist was marginal—until Christopher Hitchens' brother Peter came across the loose connection, asking, in his coverage of the Obama campaign, "Can this possibly be the same William Ayers… who used to plant bombs in the Seventies?" Peter answered himself: "It wouldn't be surprising. Those (like me) who know the left-wing codes notice things about Obama that he is far more radical than he would like us to know." (The story was such an outrage that it took Ben Smith at Politico two more weeks to write about it.)

But it gained steam. On April 16th, the "Ayers question" was put before Obama at a Democratic candidate debate.

Overnight, the right's narrative changed. Bill Ayers became the man who pulled the strings to launch Obama's political career from his and his wife's living room—a cozy Chicago living room in which Ayers and his Weathermen (Weatherperson?) spouse spent their down-time sipping tea, plotting to kill police officers and turn schoolchildren into Communists.

Rightwing activists who had ignored years of opportunity to vilify Ayers became experts in Weathermen history. Ayers' admittance of setting bombs became an admittance to setting particular bombs. (Ayers maintains that none of the bombs he ever set did anything more than destroy property.) The bomb conspiracy and rioting charges were dropped due to questionable evidence-gathering methods. Though he was never even charged with it, it's now commonly accepted by the right that the conviction he avoided was for murder. (Never mentioned is that prosecutors also dropped charges for fear of revealing CIA secrets at trial.)

"He's guilty as hell. He's out on a technicality," said Vince Schmuki, who identified himself as part of Wisconsin Interests Now. He was dressed in a Halloween costume that was half cop, half jailbird and with a "Ayers, B" nametag. (Wisconsin Interests Now led an effort in 2009 to recall Democratic Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle.)

Schmuki brought a boombox with him and was playing, rewinding, and replaying tapes of himself reading various communist and terrorist quotes and beliefs of Bill Ayers. Schmuki pointed to those across the street: "They think that terrorism is laughable."

When it comes to terrorism, Schmuki sees a lot of it. In August, Schmuki was at the Tea Party Express Wisconsin recall bus tour where he compared the state's recall campaigns to terrorism. Schmuki told Politico, "This is ground zero. You remember what the term ground zero means? We have been attacked."

Asked what he thinks of the comparisons between the Tea Party and #occupy movements, Schmuki jumped. "That's absolutely false," he said. The #occupy protests "are anarchists and communists." For Schmuki, the primary difference is that the #occupy protesters "are paid to be there" while "the Tea Party, from the inception, never had paid members. We've never had people who were paid to be at events."

Schmuki then mentioned the Coast Guard member in Boston being spit upon. "Hippies recycled," he said.

A particular regional curiosity about this "Protest Ayers" event came when I noticed a note on its Facebook page. Event organizer Sara Conrad had written that Ayers "founded and led an organization that took credit for bombings that killed people…among those a professor at the University of Wisconsin Madison who had the misfortune of being in Sterling Hall when the Weather Underground's bomb went off."

A day before Protest Ayers, Conrad went on local conservative talk radio and explained to host Mark Belling why she had organized the event to protest Ayers coming to Wisconsin, "a place where his beloved organization set a bomb that murdered somebody." Belling said nothing.

At 3:43 am on August 24, 1970, a Ford Econoline filled with 2,000 pounds of fuel oil and ammonium nitrate exploded outside Sterling Hall on the campus of the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The bomb injured several and caused millions of dollars in damage. Found in the rubble, lying face down in twelve inches of water, was 33-year-old postdoctorate researcher and father of three, Robert Fassnacht. The bomb targeted the military-funded Army Mathematics Research Center (which after closing for just one day, resumed work).

The four bombers are well known. All UW students, they included Karleton Armstrong, Dwight Armstrong, David Fine and Leo Burt. Three served three to seven years on prison. Burt remains in hiding to this day. They called themselves the "New Year's Gang." And as far as anyone knows, Ayers never met any of them.

So when I asked Conrad about her claims, on Facebook and on the radio, that Ayers was responsible for the Sterling Hall bombing, she told me, "You would have to ask him about that."

"Are you going to ask him the hard questions too?" asked Gail Chicks, standing behind me.

Chicks, a member of the Tea Party Wisconsin 9/12 Project, had come to protest Ayers as well. Recently, Chicks modeled a pink dress (worn by a man who poured a beer on a Republican state legislator) when the dress was auctioned on eBay to raise funds for the GOP.

Of Ayers' connection to the Sterling Hall bomb, Chicks said, "His group was. I don't know if he specifically was. It slays me because he is killing Americans."

Though Ayers connection to Sterling Hall is surely advanced by the wishful ignorance of a large conservative group desperate to believe Ayers' unaccounted for years in the 1970s were spent smuggling Obama into the United States from Kenya, liberal Hollywood actually hasn't helped. The 1988 Sidney Lumet film Running on Empty melts the on-the-run lives of Ayers and his wife with a crime based on the Sterling Hall bombing.

I found Wisconsin State Treasurer Kurt Schuller holding a sign that had the quote "I don't regret setting bombs. I feel we did not do enough" along with a picture of Ayers. Schuller pointed out the photo was "of him standing on an American flag." Conrad reported that local business AmeriSign & Graphics donated 55 full color signs, including the ones with Ayers' photo, which originally ran in a 2001 Chicago Magazine profile.

"Ayers is no different than Osama bin Laden. He was the leader of a terrorist organization. Bill Ayers sent out his minions to kill people for his cause. And bin Laden sent out his minions to kill people for his cause. Sadly, bin Laden was just more effective," said Schuller.

A long pause ensued as I thought of a follow-up question more professional than, "Whaaaaaaaaaaaa?"

Schuller looked over the protesters on both sides, and said, "I lived the history these people were never taught."

"That's a good one," said a nearby protester.

Born in 1955, Schuller was 14 in 1969.

Schuller, who openly identifies as a member of the Tea Party, also bristled at any comparisons between Tea Partiers and the #occupy movement. "That's no movement," he said. "It's a bunch of people getting together with no aim, no cohesion. There is no comparison. It's laughable."

What's more, Schuller does not understand what the protesters are upset about. "Wall Street is one of Obama's biggest fundraisers. Wall Street doesn't reach into people's pocket and take the money," he said.

Schuller points me to Dan Sebring, a candidate for Wisconsin's 4th Congressional seat.

Sebring, who also came out to protest "an unrepentant, admitted terrorist," he said, is part of the Tea Party. When I asked Sebring how he feels about the Sterling Hall bombing being wrongly associated with Ayers, the candidate said, "I don't know that's true." After a pause, he added, "It's accepted knowledge that he's admitted involvement."

During the entire afternoon I did not speak with one member of the 50 or so Protest Ayers group who admitted that Ayers was known not to be involved with Sterling Hall.

"Cop killer!" is a favorite taunt of the protesters anytime the energy gets low. Ayers' involvement in the February, 1970 bombing of a San Francisco police precinct, which killed an officer, is a favorite focus of conservatives. After Obama's election, the group America's Survival launched a high profile push for Ayers' indictment. (The outfit's most recent allegation? "How George Soros got Glenn Beck fired from Fox News.") No even remotely solid evidence exists connecting Ayers to that bombing.

Just because crackpots are sure Ayers did it doesn't mean he didn't. Ayers has admitted to bombing Chicago's Haymarket Police Statue in anticipation of the Days of Rage protest, which Ayers also helped lead. And there is evidence that suggests his wife, at the very least, knew about the bombing.

And just because the Tea Party despises him doesn't make defending Ayers easy, or even necessary. By all accounts, the professor did illegal and stupid, stupid things. That he never served any jail time seems, from a practical 2000s standpoint, unjust. It also doesn't help that Ayers himself regularly comes across like a gigantic prick.

Finally, one in the Protest Ayers group, looking for something new that would resonate, yelled: "Bill Ayers is part of the one percent!"

* * *

Around the demonstration, a local named Jeremy estimated that at least half of the "counter-protesters" were just people from the neighborhood who came out to see what the hubbub was all about. "It's exciting to have this energy here," he said. Jeremy said he did not know much about Ayers, adding, "But in Riverwest open minds are welcome. Freedom of speech and all that."

"I don't know if you've ever heard of this terrorist who killed everyone. And is still trying to kill everyone. Name's Bill Ayers. He's Obama's best friend. Maybe you've heard of him," said a man wearing a "Xav" nametag. It's the epitome of the sarcasm sincere activists on the left bemoan. But Xav, who lives in the neighborhood and said he was at the #occupy Milwaukee protest earlier in the day, is a sincere fellow: Xav Leplae held a hunger protest during the Madison labor protests earlier in the year.

Another Wisconsinite who joined Milwaukee's #occupy march, Ben Foldy, agreed many have a cynical hesitancy about the movement. "Milwaukee is clearly on the periphery of the movement," Foldy said, but he's heartened by the diversity, "which for an event in Milwaukee was noteworthy."

Xav is encouraged by the Milwaukee's wing of the movement, but he's not yet confident it has the kind of energy needed.

* * *

In any event, if these Wisconsin protesters were genuinely interested in "remembering what really happened," they would turn their attention to Wisconsin's own unrepentant murdering terrorist. After serving seven years of a 23-year sentence, Karleton Armstrong returned to Madison to open various food shops, including a juice cart on the UW's Library Mall. Today he can be found, usually daily, just blocks from Sterling Hall. Like Ayers, even years after the bombings, he has expressed less than remorse.

But then, Armstrong has never been in the same room as Barack Obama (as far as we know).

A day after the event, one of the attendees would post on the Protest Ayers Facebook page [all sic]: "I was there protesting Ayers and when U got there and saw the pro-Scott Walker and 'Liberalism is a disease' signs I wonder, what was the point of people bringing those? We were there protesting Ayers not liberals or anti Walker people… I'm pretty sure not all liberals think Ayers is a swell guy… to go into peoples neighborhoods and insult them probably isn't the best method of trying to get a message across.."

William Jenkins responded: "Not convinced you are playing with a full deck. That liberal neighborhood shares political ideology in line with Bill Ayers and you're smoking crack if you think they would be against violence in the name of that same brand of politics."

The thread was soon deleted.

Driving home from the Ayers protest, I got the day's last, sad dose of the reanimated "dirty hippy" narrative. During his October 15th radio broadcast (otherwise focused on Fannie Mae's role in the recession), CNBC host Larry Kudlow quipped of the #occupy protesters: "They have the wrong narrative and the wrong sanitary conditions."

Born in 1947, Kudlow might actually know what he's talking about. Especially since he was a member of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS). In 1969, The New Yorker even profiled Kudlow as a standout SDS protest organizer. One of the leaders of the SDS at that time? Terrorist Bill Ayers.

Abe Sauer can be reached at abesauer at gmail dot com. He is also on Twitter. His book How to be: NORTH DAKOTA is out next month.

69 Comments / Post A Comment

beschizza (#1,421)

One difference between protestors then and now is that there are now no jobs to walk into once you're tired of protesting. The incentive to stop being a hippy: gone!

roboloki (#1,724)

the tea party hates everyone, including themselves.

LondonLee (#922)

Oh dear, that MoveOn quote about The Beatles is very embarrassing. Sometimes I think that, despite all the social advances, the 60s ruined Liberalism.

deepomega (#1,720)

@LondonLee Either that, or MoveOn ruined liberalism.

boyofdestiny (#1,243)

@deepomega Hey, hey, don't lump me in with those devils!

runsinbackground (#10,344)

@LondonLee Speaking of annoying fellow-travelers, ThinkProgress.org interviewed the former frontman for Rage Against the Machine the other day about social politics, the economy, and his annoying foray into the wild world of comic books.

riotnrrd (#840)

Why does every goddamn political debate have to be crammed into some 1960's metaphor? That was fifty goddamn years ago! Did the hippies get compared to pro-Kaiser, anti-Prohibition protestors all the time? Shit has happened since Altamont, can we please stop talking about that era like it's still relevant?

deepomega (#1,720)

@riotnrrd My guess is it's because the 60s have been held up as "liberals doing right" for so long now in popular culture. Everything must be held up to those halcyon days to tell if the left has made any progress.

Neopythia (#353)

@deepomega For me, Hunter Thompson sums up the 60's best: "The kind of peak that never comes again. San Francisco in the middle sixties was a very special time and place to be a part of. Maybe it meant something, maybe not, in the long run. But no explanation, no mix of words or music or memories can touch that sense of knowing that you were there and alive in that corner of time in the world. Whatever it meant. There was madness in any direction, at any hour. You could strike sparks anywhere. There was a fantastic universal sense that whatever we were doing was right, that we were winning. And that, I think, was the handle – that sense of inevitable victory over the forces of Old and Evil. Not in any mean or military sense; we didn’t need that. Our energy would simply prevail. There was no point in fighting – on our side or theirs. We had all the momentum; we were riding the crest of a high and beautiful wave. So now, less than five years later, you can go up on a steep hill in Las Vegas and look West, and with the right kind of eyes you can almost see the high-water mark – that place where the wave finally broke and rolled back."

City_Dater (#2,500)

@deepomega

Or more simply, that generation were a GIANT population bulge and a lot of them grew up to make/influence/talk about popular culture and their golden youth is their favorite subject.

deepomega (#1,720)

@City_Dater I like it. Simple! Elegant! Lets me scorn baby boomers!

Ham Snadwich (#11,842)

@deepomega It's sort of everyone's favorite topic once they reach a certain age.

LondonLee (#922)

@Neopythia See that kind of thing makes my generation hate the 60s and Boomers even more, this smug notion that they had a better youth than anyone before or since. I could write exactly the same thing about being in London in the late 70s and early 80s.

City_Dater (#2,500)

@deepomega

As a shambling disaffected representative of Generation X, I consider it my birthright to scorn baby boomers.

Neopythia (#353)

@LondonLee I agree with you. I despise the fact that the boomers continued to peddle this hippie image of peace, love, and change when they are the same people who created the current culture of corporate greed and excess. I've always read Thompson as calling them on their bullshit. Whatever that (imagined?)feeling of the 60's was it was dead and gone by the early 70's only to be rekindled as nostalgia in the 80's.

barnhouse (#1,326)

@Neopythia Not very many baby boomers did that or are doing that. Just a few noisy ones. Let us not forget, either, that Geo. W. Bush was a Boomer and so is Al Gore, and Mick Jagger is older than either one of them.

Danzig! (#5,318)

@deepomega Leaving aside the Student Movement and anti-war stuff and all the cultural aspects of the New Left, there was a lot of change that was effected in politics by young progressives in that time. Much like the Tea Party or the Republican Revolution, they flooded the House with freshmen congressmen who were ideologically fervent. They did a lot more than either the Tea Party or the RR managed, though – Congressional power used to be a lot more centralized (in the hands of old racist Democrats, who defected to the Republican party en masse once they were defanged).

The Left of the 60's is generally characterized via Woodstock and the hippie movement, but a lot of what they actually accomplished is overlooked. What's mainly different between then and now is cynicism – I doubt that all these disaffected protesters are going to usher in a new wave of Leftist politicians when all is said and done.

Riotnrrd,

Good point, but people who rely on emotional appeals and pseudo-logic to make their point, hardly care whether their comparisons are relevant or not. They care little about issues, and rely on an uninformed public to accept unquestioningly whatever horrific claim they assert. People are often like that: their minds are made up in advance, and only look for whatever absurd justification they can dig up to make them feel like they have a right to attack "The Enemy". I don't like to think about it too much, because these people are my neighbors.

Rowdy5000 (#8,561)

Well it's not that I have any coherent protest against #occupy. No. It's just that.. well frankly, they're offensive. Smelling. I mean they smell bad.

a. lee carter (#162,809)

@Rowdy5000 Yeah, maybe they just genuinely smell. The conservative comparisons to hippies are obvious, but it's also just possible that, you know, these people smell fucking rank.

@Rowdy5000 The movement's got a lot of pickup.

"Accepted knowledge" is just new code for truthiness, right?

HiredGoons (#603)

ABE SAUER IS A COLUMNIST!!!

You know Abe, you pretend to be a "journalist" writing crap like this, but the truth of the matter is, you're just a liberal hack. You ought to contact CaptN Crunch, the cereal box you got your journalism degree from, and get your $2.00 and proof of purchase seals back.

I'm assuming you have some amazing degree that lets you know the truth of the matter, then?

riotnrrd (#840)

A crushing blow, sir! Your well-researched and cogent criticism of Abe Sauer has no doubt cut him to the quick! With intellects like yours on their side , surely conservatism will triumph!

(I say this because appeals to authority and attacks on authors and not their words are the work of fools–and not because Mr. Pakyz doesn't necessarily have insight. I would just rather read it in the comments than this worthlessness above.)

Niko Bellic (#1,312)

@Chris Pakyz@facebook Uh oh. If Choire finds out Abe doesn't have a degree, heads will roll.

Niko Bellic (#1,312)

@sorry your heinous Mr. Chris Pakyz is offering us the valuable idiot's point of view. You should appreciate that.

@Niko Bellic A good point. Apologies Mr. Pakyz and welcome to the community.

Ham Snadwich (#11,842)

@Niko Bellic – Is his degree from Capn Crunch (university? state? a&m?) just an honorary one?

SidAndFinancy (#4,328)

@Chris Pakyz@facebook: Mmm, Cap'n Crunch.

I am the Sara Conrad that is quoted in this article. I'm also a columnist (and yes…for AOL's Patch sites…that's easy to confirm so the use of quotations there is baffling) but being a columnist doesn't give the writer artistic license when quoting those they've interviewed.

I was looking forward to reading Mr. Sauer's article as we had emailed yesterday regarding some fact checking and he was pleasant at the protest last Saturday…but this? It's completely irresponsible.

I NEVER said "He was the founder of the Weather Underground and was involved in killing police officers. He was as much an anarchist as he was a Marxist." But what really upsets Conrad the most is that "He's not repentant. He has not disavowed the organization and has even said he may have to use bombs again."

I don't use words like "anarchist" and "marxist"….or even "disavowed." Those quotes did not come from me so having my name attached to them is completely erroneous. I have made Mr. Sauer aware of my concerns and he did nothing to investigate them.

When I appeared on Mark Belling's program & said that I thought it was arrogant & ballsy for Ayers to return to a state where the organization he founded took credit for a bombing that killed someone, Belling did NOT "say nothing" as Mr. Sauer writes. Instead Belling said "It should be pointed out that Bill Ayers was never convicted of any bombings but the Weather Underground itself claimed responsibility for several of them and there were charges at several points that were lodged against Bill Ayers and in all cases they were dropped. But the Weather Underground itself has been linked to numerous bombings. Bill Ayers, in interviews, has acknowledged that the Weather Underground was part of some of this and he said in the now famous New York Times article that appeared, amazing coincidence, September 11, 2001 that they did bombings and that he wished that they had done more. So we need to clarify that part of the record." THAT is NOT "nothing." How Mr. Sauer could report that Belling said nothing is a blatant lie.

For those wanting to listen to the entire audio of my Belling interview, it's available at http://www.discoversarandipity.com/post/11359983938 among other places.

Mr. Sauer writes "So when I asked Conrad about her claims, on Facebook and on the radio, that Ayers was responsible for the Sterling Hall bombing, she told me, "You would have to ask him about that."

What Mr. Sauer ACTUALLY asked me to get that quote was if I thought perhaps Bill Ayers was taking credit for acts he did not do, such as the Sterling Hall bombing. I told Mr. Sauer I couldn't speak on behalf of Bill Ayers to that account and he would have to ask Ayers that. I wasn't being flippant. I was being honest.

Not as offensive as the other falsities reported, but just as irritating is "Conrad reported that local business AmeriSign & Graphics donated 55 full color signs…" — No. Conrad did NOT report that. AmeriSign donated 5 full color signs. And 50 black & white signs. That was such an easy fact to get correct. Mr. Sauer was there and saw them first hand.

Finally, what really upsets me about this article is that I have reiterated over & over & over again on the exact same facebook pages Mr. Sauer picked apart as well as telling Mr. Sauer in person the day of the interview that the protest has NOTHING to do with the TEA Party. I am not affiliated with the TEA Party and being the sole organizer I do not see how this could become some sort of war against political parties. I fully acknowledge that politics takes a role in just about everything and it was clear one side of the street voted red and the other blue….but this protest was NOT about that. If it was you would have seen me talking about Bill Ayer's connection to President Obama. Which I haven't because that wasn't why I was compelled to protest.

Mr. Sauer had full access to me, we emailed several times. Yet he made the decision to write fiction under the guise of fact.

If I were reporting on this event, it would have been notable to include the FACT that MPD issued a disorderly conduct ticket to a male who came from Stonefly Brewery's side of the street to spit on the car of an Ayers protester or that I had shared on the facebook thread that the car I was driven to the protest in was vandalized with at "Recall Walker" bumper sticker. We left the neighborhood the same way we found it, clean and void of litter and without vandalizing property that did not belong to us.

If anyone has any other questions they would like to clear up, please feel free to email me at saraannconrad@gmail.com.

Abe Sauer (#148)

Sara,

I'm sorry the non tea party event you organized attracted almost all self-identifying tea party members who were as interested in slamming liberalism as Ayers. That's the odd thing about activism, you take whoever shows up. (Just ask #occupy movement leaders.) And I failed to mention when the crowd unfurled the yellow "Don't tread on me" coiled snake flag; but I suppose that was a non-tea party banner? It IS used for so many causes these days.

As for the free printing. My apologies on the exact details. I emailed the graphics company a few times and they failed to get back to me about taking credit for that. Curious. Pro tip: In he future, if your side is the "property rights" side, you may want to look into the copyright rules re: reprinting another's work.

The male received a summons regarding a complaint from a protester. As far as I understood when I talked to the cop, the youth will face charges if the protester who made the accusation chooses to file charges.

Your journalist friend from the MacIver Institute published his account, which you promoted online, and which I link early on here, so I'm not sure why you're upset as readers can get the other take there.

If you left that neighborhood "void of litter," well, thanks for picking up litter. And I am sorry your car was vandalized. That is genuinely a dick move and if you know who did it I will gladly publish his or her name as an addition here.

Heather Bronnson (#162,957)

@Abe Sauer The CROWD did not unfurl a "Don't tread on me" flag. One person held that flag. You may have wanted to actually enter the crowd instead of just asking a few people, on the corner questions.

riotnrrd (#840)

@Heather Bronnson When you're making semantic arguments, you've lost the argument. Also, look up the meaning of the word "synecdoche."

@Abe Sauer Again…I have no affiliation with the TEA Party. If people who came out to protest did, that's not here nor there. I DO NOT. And it was ME who organized the protest. At no point in time did I advertise this as a TEA Party event and you know that. You also failed to mention that there was a representative of the Milwaukee Students for a Democratic Society on the other side of the street or someone with an S.O.S. sign. However, the most blatant act of flagrant journalism, is the complete absence of reporting that the reason Bill Ayers was even there was to speak at a Rethinking Schools event. The Gadsden flag did make an appearance after a woman brought it. Who am I to go around gathering up signs or flags that aren't my own? I don't believe in censorship.

You emailed the graphics company to find out how many color vs. black & white items they donated? You were THERE. There are hundreds of photos available. Also, you know you had full access to me. So blaming your lackadaisical journalism on AmeriSign is ridiculous.

The male–who SPIT all over a vehicle simply because it bore a political sticker he didn't agree with–received a citation for disorderly conduct. I'm in the legal field and trust that there is a big difference between summons & complaints and citations. The victim alerted the police at the scene after witnessing the guy spitting on his car and the police officer made the decision to write the citation. I watched this happen and confirmed such with the officer and the victim. I'm sorry you don't feel that spitting on vehicles isn't conduct of a disorderly nature, but the law feels otherwise.

My friend's article isn't a work of fiction masquerading as fact. IF the "other take" you speak of is a written work based on actual events and not imagination, then I agree. Check out that article.

We did leave the neighborhood void of litter. And, unlike your view, it was pretty darned clean when we got there. I do not know who vandalized my friend's vehicle. The person who committed that crime did so as a faceless coward.

Heather Bronnson (#162,957)

@riotnrrd Semantics? Please own ALL of the Anti-Israel and Anti-religion signs @ the occupy events. Please own ALL of the scummy people pooping on the streets. Please own ALL of the public property being ruined. Please own ALL of the thefts taking place at the occupy rallies. Please own ALL of the reported rapes.

@Heather Bronnson That's been the subject of many articles regarding coverage of the Occupy events. All those facets you mention (even the fear-mongering ones) ARE being presented as part of those events. I'm not sure why Abe has to own any of this, though? Unlike Sara above, he did not organize anything. Just like OWS, though, the people that show up are going to be what your rally is judged on, not what your intentions were for the rally.

Heather Bronnson (#162,957)

@sorry your heinous synecdoche.

@Heather Bronnson I'm not @riotnrrd, I don't care what new words you know, but excellent argument.

Heather Bronnson (#162,957)

@sorry your heinous Then why are you responding to my posts to @riot?

I wasn't as much misquoted as the question I was asked was misrepresented… "I asked Sebring how he feels about the Sterling Hall bombing being wrongly associated with Ayers".

What he in fact asked me was "With regard to the Sterling Hall bombing, what do you think of the notion that Ayers was actually claiming responsibility for something he didn't actually do."

I also found this statement curious…
"During the entire afternoon I did not speak with one member of the 50 or so Protest Ayers group who admitted that Ayers was known not to be involved with Sterling Hall."

I can't speak for anyone else, but nobody asked me if I believed that "Ayers was known not to be involved with Sterling Hall" would be a true or a false statement. So, it stands to reason that no one would make such a statement. To my knowledge, no one was asked.

Abe Sauer (#148)

@Dan Sebring @twitter Well, sorry that not everyone quoted here feels that way: http://twitter.com/#!/WITreasSchuller/status/126774535352623104

@Abe Sauer Everyone doesn't feel that way because you outright misquoted them. I've written political pieces in the past with the intent to ruffle feathers but I didn't have to deceive to do so. I really, really hope you don't go around telling people you're a writer or a columnist or a journalist. Because all you are is gasoline on a fire. And your fuel is lies.

gregorycraigory (#13,983)

@Sara N. Dipity@twitter I think anyone who regularly writes for the Atlantic can call themselves a columnist. As someone who blogs about 50%-off coupons for JoAnn fabrics, what do you call yourself?

@gregorycraigory So I'm a blogger because you don't like me but Mr. Sauer is a columnist because you like him? For your information, I had a weekly whatever-I-wanted-to-write-about column that recently ended due to budget cuts. Before that I wrote weekly for OnMilwaukee.com. If you had the gumption to find my syndicated coupon column then you sure as heck were also right on top of the dozens of other opinion pieces I wrote in the past year, some of which were political in nature. Yet you chose to tease me based on my current work. Despite that immature move, it's still a COLUMN which doesn't give me artistic license to falsify information.

gregorycraigory (#13,983)

@Sara N. Dipity@twitter Whatever; I went straight to your twitter page and that was the website that you linked to. The point is, there are credentials and there are credentials. Yo Yo Ma is a musician and so is my neighbor's kid who plays jams in his garage. Whether or not you like Mr. Sauer, agree with him, think he's a lying liar who lies, etc., his credentials are undeniable and your hyperbolic comments serve little purpose other than to embarrass yourself.

Heather Bronnson (#162,957)

I agree with the posts by Ms. Conrad and Mr. Sebring. This article is very ill written. I was also there. I wasn't asked any questions by Mr. Sauer, however he is completely misrepresenting the protest. He didn't poll the protesters to see who was in the "Tea Party". He assumed this had something to do with a Tea Party event, or something to do with the "Occupy" groups. The protest was about Mr. Ayers. William Ayers is an Anarchist. Mr. Ayers' association with the Weather Underground is very clear. He admits to being involved with bombings. He was disappointed they didn't do more. Of all the brilliant Educators that could have been a guest at The Rethinking Education gathering, they chose an unrepentant terrorist. A man who hates this country and wants to fundamentally change it and change education. Then there was the fact that local "Catholic" colleges sponsored the event. I've never attended a "Tea Party" event. I've never attended a protest prior to this one. To speculate on these abstract reasons why we attended, or to purposely misrepresent the actual reason we were there is irresponsible.

Blackcapricorn (#4,791)

What is going ON in this thread? Can't we just talk about what toppings bears favor on their pizzas?

As if anyone but a few "enlightened" liberals ever read this page. The only reason I heard about it is because someone told me to check it out if I want a hearty laugh.

gregorycraigory (#13,983)

@Chris Pakyz@facebook Relevant things = things that Chris Pakyz has heard of. Thanks for the enlightenment.

The biggest laugh however was reading the indignant reactions posted by so-called intellects when I dared to criticize Sauer for his shoddy attempt at "journalism". Obviously he suffers from diarrhea of the word processor and complete constipation of journalistic integrity. All I did was call him on it and lo' and behold! The Birkenstocks came a' runnin'to his defense! Nicely done, fellas!

barnhouse (#1,326)

@Chris Pakyz@facebook Well, no. Your remarks (so far) are not daring. Nor are they criticism.

roboloki (#1,724)

@Chris Pakyz@facebook from your facebook information it's obvious you disapprove of gay rights, hate obama, think romney is unfit to be president because of his record as governor and you believe herman cain will rescue this great nation from hordes of socialists. perhaps you should check your privacy settings before you start trolling the awl.

roboloki (#1,724)

oh, and fuck the blackhawks.

nice..another liberal stalker, and a classy one at that.

roboloki (#1,724)

don't flatter yourself. i'm just not stupid enough to go trolling with my junk hanging out.

Roboloki, you obviously care enough to stalk my FB wall ,but that's ok, I'm an unapologetic common sense conservative and I have nothing to hide.

Do you?

roboloki (#1,724)

@Chris Pakyz@facebook i do not think that word means what you think it means. looking at your profile took all of two minutes and i'll never look again…i promise. your support of cain proves your lack of common sense. i will concede the points that you are unapologetic and a conservative.
and yes, i have nothing to hide. no, wait?

I am confused. I hear a lot about how the Tea Party hates Bill Ayers because he is a terrorist, but seem entirely unaware of exactly who the Irgun were.

donelive (#163,570)

vely sary inti khas sid koi nhi hy acha

afrikan57 (#163,634)

@Abe Sauer: Man! You're good! Excellent missive.

lacy2feath (#163,153)

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lacy2feath (#163,153)

Hi there, just became alert to your blog through Google, and found that it's truly informative. I am gonna watch out for brussels. I’ll be grateful if you continue this in future. Lots of people will be benefited from your writing. Cheers!

TimChuma (#9,158)

This is a glimpse of what the end will look like for Occupy Wall Street
http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/occupation-routed-by-enforcers-and-horses-20111021-1mckb.html

In the case of Melbourne, the Queen is visiting on Melbourne and they decided to clean up the square before next week. Could have done without running over people with horses though.

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