Prof. Applauds “Reckless” Child Endangerment at Wall Street Protest

By David Stein

Among my conservative friends, there exists a genuine feeling of optimism regarding next year’s elections. But this feeling is tempered by an equally genuine sense of dread regarding just how far the left is going to go to protect Obama and his big labor allies from electoral defeat. We all know that the left isn’t going to go down easy. Many conservatives predict street brawls, violent acts of domestic terror, fear and intimidation tactics, and pretty much anything else the leftists can put into play to cow the opposition.

A downright frightening foreshadowing of the lengths to which the left is willing to go can be found in an essay, initially published as a Facebook note and later reproduced on CounterPunch.org, written by far-left Professor John Halle, Director of Studies in Music Theory and Practice at Bard College (and before that, Assistant Professor of Music at Yale). Professor Halle’s essays have been published on dozens of leftist sites. He’s a radical among radicals, a leader in the “Obama isn’t nearly far-left enough” faction of liberal academia (one might say it’s in his blood; Halle’s father Morris was a professor emeritus at MIT and a collaborator and colleague of Noam Chomsky).

Halle’s essay, which spread like wildfire this week on Facebook, is a first-person account of the “occupy Wall Street” protests in New York (Halle live-blogged the essay from the protest’s epicenter).

It’s also a warning, if taken in that spirit, of what’s to come – of just how far-gone some of the “intellectual leaders” of the left have become.

Halle (pictured above) begins the essay by lamenting the fact that in the years since the 1960s counterculture, leftist protesters have become too slavish to the concept of “nonviolence,” and too afraid to engage in direct violent action. Completely contradicting the “mainstream” media’s account of the violence that has accompanied the Wall Street protests (“the protesters were innocent little lambs, and the evil cops initiated the violence”), Halle quite openly admits that the protesters initiated the violence:

It became increasingly clear that more than a few of the participants were willing to push the envelope of the protest in the direction of outright confrontation, and, more importantly, this seemed both justifiable and appropriate under the circumstances.

With no sense of irony or shame, Halle admits that the New York authorities quite happily tolerate non-violent protests. Only protests that cause disruptions and harm are treated harshly (remember, this comes from a man who feels that his ideological cohorts should be entitled to cause disruptions and harm).

Under the Giuliani and Bloomberg regimes the cold precision of the choreography imposed by the NYPD on protests rivals that of the Bolshoi under Balanchine: since the Feb 15th, 2003 and Republican National Convention protest, the authorities have made use of a highly effective combination of carrots and sticks. Quiet and non-violent-by which is meant non-disruptive protests under the terms set by the authorities are tolerated.  However, those stepping out of line, those who insist that protests do what they are supposed to do, i.e. disrupt business as usual and impose a cost on those primarily benefitting (sic) from its operation, are dealt with considerable harshness.

Halle concludes that the protests will only have real meaning if the protesters are willing to abandon nonviolent rhetoric and inflict “real costs” on the opposition:

The response of demonstrators over the past few years has been to capitulate to these imposed conditions and thereby, often under the rubric of “non-violence”, allowing protests to become empty rituals.  What is necessary now is that demonstrations reclaim their roots as a demonstrations (sic) of power, specifically, their ability to disrupt.  And while the disruptions effected today, in the larger scheme of things were quite minimal, what a critical mass of the participants seem to implicitly understand is that disruption-the ability to inflict real costs on entrenched capital through unpredictable and spontaneous (i.e unchoreographed) direct action is a necessary condition for our success.  If these protests succeed in growing with this assumption at their core, they have real potential to become truly meaningful.  

To prove his point, Halle applauds the actions of a protester who put his own small child in harm’s way, to “impede” police and “invite” a violent reaction:

After the march reached its eventual destination at Union Square Park, most seemed to expect that we would return more or less the way we came back to Zuccotti Park.  While we were there, it became clear that the police had received orders to disperse the group.  Their initial attempt to do so was when we were still in the park, and was effected by vinyl mesh barriers which prevented the crowd from returning south back to its original destination in Wall Street. To do this required erecting these barriers at edge of the group, turning back those who had just started on their way south.  Among these was a man maybe slightly younger than myself-though not much-who simply demanded to go where he to wanted to, and he would be damned if he would let the cops get in his way. And so he stepped in front of the cops who were trying to hem us in, inviting a violent confrontation and likely arrest. But that’s not extraordinary, as this was to be duplicated with greater or lesser degrees of violence at least forty times over the next hour. What was extraordinary was how the man impeded the cop: he did so by pushing a stroller which enclosed the man’s three or four year old child in the cop’s way.

Using a small child as a weapon against police, with the intent of inviting a violent confrontation. Horrific, right? Nope…courageous!

As a parent of a small child who I was considering bringing along to this, but thankfully did not,  I wasn’t sure how to respond to what seemed to be an act of almost insane recklessness.  Initially, I was appalled, but in retrospect, in revisiting the mental image, I couldn’t help but be moved by the commitment and courage displayed, and by the recognition that finally the stakes of our confrontation are becoming clear. As Marx famously observed “(we) are now compelled to face with sober senses, (our) real conditions of life, and (our) relations with (our) kind.” While few of us will find ourselves capable of this man’s courage, this is the kind of reaction which will be required of us when we face up to the realities we are encountering with sober senses.

Halle concludes his essay with accounts of “brutal” arrests. His outrage is once again bereft or irony, almost as though he expects readers to forget that only a few paragraphs back he explained that abandoning nonviolence, inflicting “real costs,” and provoking a violent reaction were the very goals of the protesters. 

Of course, this is exactly how the left operates: commit violent acts until the police are forced into confrontation, and then scream “victim! victim!” as the cameras are rolling.

Speaking of violence, on his website, Professor Halle has posted an unpublished 2010 essay that is so extreme, I can see why even sites like Dissident Voice, CounterPunch, and CommonDreams (which typically carry all of his musings) refused to publish it. Titled “Mayday 2010: Bring a Brick to Wall Street!,” it’s an outright call for domestic terrorism:

That Wall Street has been so generous to itself with our money does not mean that we, the citizens, should pass up this opportunity to express our gratitude to it. Our gift should not take the vulgar form of cash. Nothing is tackier, after all, than a few C notes for hookers and blow-the traditional receptacle of Wall Street bonuses. The true friend finds just the right thing for that special someone.

And the thing which Wall Street needs is a brick.

As any historian of Wall Street knows the function of bricks goes well beyond their role as a construction material. Indeed, when bricks are set in motion, they have played an important role in our financial history-particularly when they are directed through plate glass windows, sometimes in combination with explosives. Those whose gratitude towards Wall Street is not adequately conveyed by the provision of a simple gift might consider this action.  

It is up to us to provide Wall Street with what they deserve.

And what they deserve are bricks.  

Lots of them.

In a giant pile. And through the windows.  On Wall Street.

These words come not from some disenfranchised punk with a Facebook page. This is a respected professor from Bard and Yale, and a leading voice on the left.

Reckless endangerment of children, bricks and explosives, and inflicting “real costs on entrenched capital through direct action.”

I agree with my conservative friends; next year, things are going to get very, very ugly.

PS. On his website, Prof. Halle – Mr. “smash the moneyed classes” – gushes about the idyllic property where he and his wife live, in the town of Red Hook (population 10,000, 94.2% white), located in New York’s Hudson Valley. Boasting that the area is inhabited by “a gaggle of addled descendants of Astors, Livingstons, and Vanderbilts (who), so we are told, manage their old estates along the river,” Halle laments what might happen to his heavenly paradise if (*gasp*) homes for other people are built there:

The surrounding area has largely escaped the metastasic pox of subdivisions which are among the most conspicuous feature of ex-urban perimeters. Red Hook is surrounded by landscapes which make one feel one has walked into Martin Heade, Frederick Church or Thomas Cole painting.  It is an open question how long the (sic) will be able to be maintained.

Wait…so, he’s hoarding all that open space? Surely he should be leading the fight to build cheap and affordable (and Section 8-friendly) housing in his town…you know, for “the masses.” At the very least, that two-story guest house of his could fit a few poor unfortunate mentally-ill homeless people or ex-cons (you know, the ones who are innocent victims of our evil, “racist,” capitalist society). I mean, isn’t Halle all about “spreading the wealth?”

Hypocrisy is, and always has been, the single greatest defining feature of the left.

(Above: I nominate Halle’s barn-sized guest house to be a halfway house for recently-released victims of our “racist criminal justice system!”)

Comments
2 Responses to “Prof. Applauds “Reckless” Child Endangerment at Wall Street Protest”
  1. gary fouse says:

    Great david. i think I’d like to cross-post this story on fousesquawk. Luv to give those pinheads in academic hell.

  2. Very, very well done. Appreciate your great blogging.

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