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Tank Man: Genuine courage vs juvenile cowardice

By Mark Alexander
web posted November 21, 2011

Occupy protestMy Wednesday communiqué from the Communist Party USA (which is directed to my "know thy enemy" inbox) last Wednesday was full of indignation about the forced suppression of the Occupy movement's New York-based rabble's rights.

The CPUSA has been enthusiastically promoting Barack Hussein Obama's Red October Uprising, which stars an unsavory cast of his Useful Idiots. Adding insult to injury, this truculent troupe's stage debut was in New York City's Zuccotti Park, right around the corner from the solemn 9/11 Memorial.

The protagonists of the Occupy movement are adherents of the populist socialist agenda, which is now the centerpiece of Obama's Democrat Party Platform and its classist politics of disparity. Most of their followers are the product of the Left's Directorate of Indoctrination (a.k.a. "urban government schools"), which is to say they have little objective cognitive ability -- as they have aptly demonstrated.

Since its inception some two months ago, the Zuccotti Park encampment has spawned similar protests across the nation. These copycat protests have, at best, been a nuisance to their host cities. At worst, they've become violent and their rhetoric more revolutionary. As yet, they have not resorted to detonating bombs, as was the practice of Obama's Marxist political benefactor, William Ayers. Notably, when asked about the brutal assaults committed by Occupiers across the nation, Leftists Rep. Maxine Waters replied, "That's life and it happens. That's a distraction from the goals of the protesters."

In New York, the confrontations between protesters and police had become increasingly combative and had cost area small businesses and vendors in the area more than $500,000 in damages and lost business. Consequently, earlier this week Mayor Michael Bloomberg sent in police to eradicate the Occupiers and sanitation workers to disinfect the park and restore it for public use -- and not a New York second too soon.

Predictably, The New York Times lamented, "[The protesters] made '99 percent' into popular language for the have-nots. They spawned protests against further enriching the already rich 1 percent, like those in Chicago, Boston, Oakland, New Haven, and even London. But Mr. Bloomberg hasn't done as good a job [ending the protests] and we worry that his decision to clear the park of tents could end up quashing the entire protest."

I was dumbstruck last week when I received a copy of a "day of action" promo poster, which Occupiers were plastering across Manhattan. However unwittingly, it fittingly reveals the abject ignorance of the organizers and their wholly uniformed perception of history.

The poster is a clear reference to "Tank Man." He was the brave lone protester who, in 1989, stood in front of a column of Red Chinese Type 59 tanks and brought them to a standstill on the morning after the Communist Party cleared Beijing's Tiananmen Square of its protesters. The "People's Army" slaughtered hundreds of students in the process.

The Occupy poster is drenched with irony because, at Tiananmen, those courageous young people were protesting against the socialist state and in support of Liberty and free enterprise. Conversely, the Occupy protesters want to implement a socialist state and suppress Liberty and free enterprise.

For the record, Tank Man "disappeared" that same afternoon, never to be seen again. A ranking Communist Party member reported, "We can't find him. We got his name from journalists. We have checked through computers but can't find him among the dead or among those in prison."

Two decades after Tiananmen, I stood on Chang'an Avenue at the location where Tank Man had made his courageous stand in defiance of tyranny. I was hosted by a group of Chinese entrepreneurs who were present as students at the protests. As a result of modest economic reforms in the years after Tiananmen, some of those erstwhile protesters are now among China's most affluent, those who within one generation have risen on the wings of their own initiative, innovation and perseverance from statist slums.

As I contemplate the contrast between the Occupy movement poster and the authentic photograph of Tank Man, I'm reminded of three observations about socialism and history. The first is from 18th-century philosopher Edmund Burke, who observed, "The people never give up their liberties but under some delusion." Next is a quote from a 19th-century classical liberal, Frederic Bastiat, who wrote, "The state is the great fiction by which everybody seeks to live at the expense of everybody else." And finally, as 20th-century philosopher George Santayana concluded in The Life of Reason: "Progress, far from consisting in change, depends on retentiveness. When experience is not retained, as among savages, infancy is perpetual. Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."

Obama claims, "People are frustrated and the [Occupy] protesters are giving voice to a more broad-based frustration about how our financial system works." The system he bemoans is free enterprise, and the system he wants instead poses great risk to the future of Liberty. ESR

Mark Alexander is the executive editor of the Patriot Post.


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