Accusations of Violence By Occupy Wall Street Demonstrate Differences Between Left and Right

Yesterday I pointed out how Fox was trying to twist the news with unfounded suggestions of a connection between the bombing plot broken up yesterday and the Occupy Wall Street movement. The suggestion was made with a subtle comment that “It is unknown if the bridge incident was connected to Occupy Wall Street’s plans for nationwide protests Tuesday.” Such a formula would allow Fox to tie any unrelated groups together this way. Not surprisingly, the right wing blogs and Twitter have considerable chatter today falsely claiming Occupy Wall Street was involved in the plot to blow up the bridge.

Further reports on the arrest clarify the lack of a real relationship between those arrested and Occupy Wall Street. USA Today reports:

What sets the alleged Ohio operation apart is its link to self-proclaimed anarchists — with no connections to international terrorist organizations — who believed that members of the ubiquitous Occupy protest movement had not gone far enough to express their displeasure with high-flying corporate America.

More recent plots disrupted by the FBI have focused on traditional terrorist targets — military facilities and crowded public places — with the goal of inflicting mass casualties.

The operation outlined Tuesday in federal court papers described a poorly financed operation by inexperienced players who at times joked about their lack of terror savvy but sought to use the cover of the Occupy campaign in Cleveland to strike a violent blow against U.S. corporate properties and interests.

From the earliest point in a seven-month undercover inquiry starting in October, an FBI informant said the group of suspects expressed “displeasure at the (Occupy) crowd’s unwillingness to act violently.”

Almost immediately after the charges were announced, the Occupy campaign moved to distance itself from the allegations.

Acknowledging that the suspects — Douglas Wright, 26; Brandon Baxter, 20; Anthony Hayne, 35; Connor Stevens, 20; and Joshua Stafford, 23 — were “associated with Occupy Cleveland,” the group said in a statement that the five were “in no way representing or acting on behalf of Occupy Cleveland.”

Four of the suspects are from the Cleveland area; Wright is from Indianapolis.

Citing the arrests, Occupy Cleveland canceled a scheduled May Day rally Tuesday.

Ed Needham, a spokesman for Occupy Wall Street, said the alleged Cleveland plot “goes against the very fabric of the Occupy Movement.”

“The Occupy Movement is a social movement rooted in compassion as well as social justice,” he said.

U.S. authorities also sought to separate the criminal case against the five men from a blanket indictment of the protest movement.

“The FBI and the Department of Justice do not investigate groups or movements,” U.S. Attorney Steven Dettelbach said. “The defendants stand charged based not upon any words or beliefs they might espouse, but based upon their own plans and actions.”

While violence is far more often associated with right wing extremism, there are extremists on both the left and right who will resort to violence. This demonstrates a key difference between the left and right. The right is dominated far more by their more radical elements as compared to the left, with many on the right willing to ignore the problem of right wing violence. Occupy Wall Street is to the left of the Democratic Party and many liberal groups but has not shown the degree of extremism seen on the right. As noted above, the local Occupy group immediately repudiated the use of violence and did not try to defend those who promoted violence. Many liberals have also shown concern about the violence occurring at the Occupy demonstrations. Other liberal bloggers join me in having concerns about the tactics of Occupy Wall Street and want a clearer repudiation of the use of violence in demonstrations nation-wide.

In contrast, when there have been discussions of right wing violence, it has been common for many in the conservative movement to show reluctance to dissociate themselves from those who promote violence. We saw this in the reaction of conservative bloggers to a report from the Department of Homeland Security on far right extremists. We were reminded of  the frequent use of violent rhetoric by the conservative movement  following the shooting of Gabrielle Giffords. Ron Paul has pandered to neo-Nazis and white supremacists to raise money, bringing in elements to the conservative movement which would have been ostracized in past years before the move by the conservative movement to the extreme right. Will the conservative bloggers who falsely accuse Occupy Wall Street of being involved in a bomb plot speak out against the real problem of right wing violence?