Throughout U.S. history, people have tried to create utopias – ideal worlds in which to live. Some established communal farms or workshops. Others tried to convert the general society to their vision. Utopians included Shakers and Oneidas and Amanas and hippies. In other countries, they were knows as Harmonites or Kibbutzniks. Depending upon the times they lived in, they were either romanticized, ostracized, ignored, or destroyed.
Today's occupiers are clearly not proposing the creation of a separate society, as some other utopians did. Quite the contrary, they are seeking to reform the society as a whole, not to create an alternative to it. For that reason, they are within the mainstream of American political history, and they are able to appeal to a wide cross-section of the country. They do not pose a threat to the majority of Americans, only to the one-percent whose power and influence they seek to diminish.
Enter Fox News, defender of the one-percent. Using the same misleading techniques that it has employed time and again, it is now trying to discredit the occupiers. Fox has “reported” that some people who used to work with the ACORN organization are now infiltrating the occupation. Fox has printed an opinion piece that claims, without any support, that “Behind the current Occupy Wall Street protests is a 'red army' of radicals seeking no less than to provoke a new, definitive economic crisis,with their goal being the full economic collapse of the U.S. financial system, with the ensuing chaos to be rebuilt into a utopian socialist vision.” Fox News commentator Bill O'Reilly led off his segment by claiming there was “more violence from the occupiers” in Oakland, California, despite the fact that reporters from other news outlets who were at the scene attributed the violence to the police, and not to the protesters. When asked if they had been firing bean-bags, stun grenades, and rubber bullets at protesters, officials of the Oakland police said that they had so many officers there from so many neighboring communities that they didn't even know who had been firing what weapons at whom. Fox News has also been pushing the notion that the occupiers are anti-Semites , but Abe Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, disagreed: “The movement is not about Jews; it's not about Israel. It's about 'the economy, stupid.'”
The immediate challenge that faces the occupiers is to keep talking about their message and not be distracted by the daily attempts of Fox News and other supporters of the one-percent to portray them as dangerous, evil, misguided, and who knows what else. It is generally not a good idea for a public figure to ignore attacks, as John Kerry learned when he did not respond to untrue attacks on his record in the military. Because the occupiers function as a leaderless movement, it could be difficult for them to respond to the Fox attacks. No one individual has the authority to speak for the occupiers. But in this case, the lack of a spokesperson does not seem to be hurting the Occupy movement. The responsible media have been reporting the truth, countering the attacks that Fox has been mounting. The responsible media's rebuttal is much more persuasive than anything the occupiers could say.