“End the Fed” signs, and other Ron Paul-inspired sloganeering have been a staple of Occupy encampments from the birth of the movement. To an extent, that reflects the Occupiers’ diversity of ideas. But Paul, who wrote a book called End the Fed in 2009, has a spotty reputation among champions of social justice, which was made worse this week with the release of another round of racist, homophobic and anti-Semitic comments excerpted from a newsletter he published throughout the 1980s.
At many Occupy encampments, “End the Fed” signs are everywhere, and Paul supporters are becoming more and more vocal — using the language of the Occupy movement in service of their extremist anti-government agenda.
For the most part cooler (and more progressive) heads prevail, but to a certain extent in the movement, anger at Wall Street and its bankers is morphing into anger at the Federal Reserve and international “banksters” — a term long popular among libertarians, John Birchers and the armed right-wing Patriot Movement.
The Occupy movement’s evolving agenda is in danger of being sullied by association with Paul, whose position includes at its core a conspiracy theory involving the Federal Reserve — a decades-old right-wing bugaboo. On the web, a crucial battleground in the era of the online revolution, the Occupy Movement’s central critique of the obscene power of corporations is in danger of being slapped way off course. Ron Paul supporters dominated the conversation in the public forum on OccupyWallSt.org, the movement’s unofficial Web site, throughout the fall. A December post on the forum complained about the Paul-partisan spammers, and warned against forging an alliance with “Wall Street’s religious fanatics, the libertarians, espousing their predatory free-market religion.”
A few weeks ago, the forum’s anonymous moderator finally banned Paul’s supporters from propagandizing:
“We do not support an election campaign for 2012. At all. We have removed election material for Obama, Paul, Warren, Paul, Cain, Paul, Perry, Paul, the green party, Paul, Nader, Paul, and did I mention Paul?”
But elsewhere on the web, the Occupy message is being shanghaied by radical libertarians, Tea Partiers and worse.
On Martin Luther King Day, as the Occupy the Dream marchers were on the move in 13 cities, I Googled “Occupy Federal Reserve,” and the first result was a link to Infowars, a Web site run by Alex Jones, a Texas-based wingnut radio host. Jones, a longtime Ron Paul supporter, believes that the government staged both the World Trade Center attacks and the Oklahoma City bombings; that the Gates Foundation is a eugenics operation; and that the government has been taken over by agents of the New World Order who are planning to release a cancer-causing monkey virus.
Since the Occupy protests began, Jones, whom Rolling Stone has labeled “the most paranoid man in America,” has added a wrinkle to his shtick, ranting and blogging relentlessly on behalf of OWS and the 99 percent, while threading attacks on the 1 percent into his vitriolic rants. He also began to call (loudly) for the Occupy protesters to turn their attention to the Fed. Apparently it has become his chief mission to embrace — and be embraced by — the Occupy movement. His gambit may be working.
While Occupy the Fed appears to be largely a creation of Jones and other right-leaning libertarians, it is having some success weaving itself into the fabric of the movement. The Facebook page “Occupy Federal Reserve” contains status updates from thousands of Friends apparently affiliated with the mainstream Occupy movement. It also contains hundreds of updates posted by radical libertarians and wack-job conspiracy freaks. Days after launching, @OccupyFederalReserve posted a link to the 2007 documentary Zeitgeist, which claims to prove that 9/11 was orchestrated as a pretext for the creation of a police state, that the Fed and the IRS are criminal enterprises and, by the way, that Jesus Christ did not exist.