This morning I caught the back half of an interview on WRKO’s Tom and Todd show (sans Todd today) with Faiz Shakir of the liberal activist group Think Progress. The topic generally was the “Occupy” protests going on across the country, and the question ‘what are they protesting about?
Anyone who has scanned a photo slide show of Boston’s “occupiers” knows that ‘what are they protesting about?’ is truly an unanswerable question. Even they don’t know! Corporations, definitely. The rich, check. Banks, check. But the list goes on and on and on. Some are protesting a lack of jobs. Some our involvement in Iraq, Afghanistan, or both. Some are there to protest the Jamaica Plains Whole Foods (seriously!). Different versions of their “demands” are circulating online, ranging from the predictable (Repeal the Patriot Act!) to the deranged (Total debt forgiveness for ALL – NOW!!). It’s a big, teeming pile o’ grievance. And zombie make-up. And, increasingly, dirty laundry. (I know, I know. It is cheap and easy to look at a bunch of hippie wanna-bes and make cracks about dirty laundry. I am ashamed. But if the unwashed, strategically torn designer jeans fit…).
By and large I was impressed by Mr. Shakir. I agreed with virtually nothing he said, but it struck me more than once during the segment that the progressive movement would do well to find itself more spokespeople like him: calm, good-natured, articulate, and well versed enough in policy and history to answer questions with substance rather than liberal cliches and militant vitriol. (I do think it was a shame he visited on Todd’s day off. Todd would have had fun with Mr. Shakir).
Then came the end of the interview, and it all came crashing down.
Asked by a caller where the “jobs” that Mr. Shakir claimed the ‘occupiers’ are demanding should come from, Mr. Shakir tipped his hand and revealed an underlying truth about the progressive movement that surely his compatriots would prefer to leave unspoken. The audio is linked here, and the response begins at 22:40:
Mr. Shakir: Where are the jobs going to come from? I think that, you know one is, uh, we need a new sector… I think that… we have various different sectors that I think that, uh, America….
So that’s one. We’ll have a new sector to add to the various different sectors that, uh, America. Got it. On behalf of Dirty Rotten Capitalists (DRC) everywhere, I feel comfortable promising that we’ll get right on that. In truth, though, that bit of gibberish was just audio coverage for the time Mr. Shakir’s brain needed to decide whether he was really going to say this next bit:
And the second, uh, this is controversial but I believe that, uh, we’ve started to feel that, uh, that government jobs are the enemy. That if you’re a teacher, that that’s not sufficient enough. That the only good jobs come from the private econ- the private sector…
Straw Man Alert! Who is calling government workers “the enemy?” We love and appreciate our teachers (and our first responders, and even that one-in-a-million kind and helpful clerk down at the DMV). But they provide government services. They don’t generate the economic growth needed to pull the country out of recession. Anyhow, you see where he’s going already, right?… READ THE REST at CriticalMASS