Public Nuisances

Let’s Squash the Squatters

November 01, 2011

Liberals consider hypocrisy the deadliest sin others can commit because it is their own fatal flaw. Away from the stage, screen, and recording studio, leftists keep criminals and other low-rent sorts at a safe distance, like the rest of us rednecks and squares do. It’s all fun and games until somebody loses a laptop or a hymen.

To anyone with a passing familiarity with history and human nature, it was obvious these “Occupy” “communities” contained the twin seeds of their own destruction: Socialism doesn’t work, and neither do homeless people.

Utopian communitarianism among unrelated strangers is doomed; if such colonies survive, it’s because they evolve (counterintuitively) into efficient capitalist enterprises. (Do the brand names “Amana” and “Oneida” ring a bell?)

More frequently, though, the scroungers eventually outnumber the conscientious workers, with predictable (to non-idealists) results. Attempts to dial back life to Year Zero inevitably usher in pestilence and genocide. Tom Wolfe’s “curious footnote to the hippie movement”—the return of such archaic diseases as “the mange, the thrush and the rot” to the 20th-century intersection of Haight and Ashbury—gets cited ad nauseam, so here’s Beatle George Harrison’s recollection of the same time and place:

I went there expecting it to be a brilliant place, with groovy gypsy people making works of art and paintings and carvings in little workshops. But it was full of horrible spotty drop-out kids on drugs, and it turned me right off the whole scene. I could only describe it as being like the Bowery.…

I know a little bit about history and confess to some confusion this time around. The other reason American protesters don’t do vigils and “occupations” is because when they’ve tried to, the cops broke it up. Dedicated to “preserving disorder,” (Democratic) Mayor Daley’s cops cleared out Lincoln Park in ’68 using tear gas and batons.

(It’s been Democratic officials who’ve busted up their local “Occupy” campouts, not because they are secretly law-and-order types—I wish—but because Blue cities tend to be full of hippies and homeless dudes in the first place, so disaster had a head start.)

Over forty years ago, another “occupation” of Wall Street lasted only a few hours. On May 8, 1970, New York mayor John Lindsay ordered all flags on city buildings lowered to half-staff in memory of the students who’d died in the Kent State shootings four days earlier.

When anti-war protesters assembled at the George Washington statue on Wall Street that day waving Viet Cong flags, construction workers who were building the World Trade Center teamed up with stockbrokers and cops to battle the hippies down the street.

The Hard Hat Riot is a sadly neglected slice of American history, part of the era before police “forces” turned into “services,” when they arrested burglars rather than homeowners who pointed guns at them, and when protesters risked death (and sometimes got it) rather than heartburn. (Kent State students spent the days before the killings looting local merchants, not being catered by them.)

At one time if you crapped in the park you’d get a ticket or a trip to jail; today you get free food from a nearby deli. Something’s wrong with that picture. In every way imaginable, America’s gone soft. It’s almost enough to make me miss the ’70s.

 

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