Letters and Politics - February 8, 2012 at 10:00am
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Linkage (since the player embed doesn't seem to want to be embedded in this remote corner of Blogistan.)
Hedges seemed almost contrite in this onair "debate" with Kristof Lopaur of Occupy Oakland, but he couldn't quite bring himself to do the decent thing and outright apologize for smearing Occupy Oakland with falsehoods, inaccuracies, and inappropriate accusations. Instead, he backslid and insisted that "OWS" should not be confronting the police (on the premise that if they weren't confronted by demonstrators, they would come over to the side of the protest... a problematical assertion, but we'll let it go for now.)
He abandoned essentially any criticism of Occupy Oakland, though, and that's quite a change from what he wrote in his polemic, where almost all the examples of "Black Bloc anarchism" were taken from incidents in Oakland, and he insisted that he "wasn't writing about Occupy Oakland," he was writing about Black Bloc. When he was informed that there was only one Black Bloc in Oakland -- and there has been none that I know of anywhere else in Occupy -- and that was in November of last year on General Strike Day, Hedges essentially wanted to change the subject.
No, he claimed that his focus was Black Bloc and not Occupy Oakland, and what he wanted was to preserve the popularity of "OWS" among the middle classes.
Of course his polemic was triggered by the events in Oakland on January 28, when Occupy re-emerged onto the media radar with some absolutely stunning and spectacular events that included an ample dose of police violence. That wasn't what the media featured, of course; they featured the flag-burning and the something-throwing which was supposedly the justification for the brutal and violent police reaction, which of course is completely out of sequence, but when one has a crusade under way to stamp out the (non-existent) "Black Block anarchists" in Occupy, one really doesn't care about such trivialities as "facts".
Hedges was careful, however, to say nothing antagonistic about OO. He was actually more tongue-tied than I have ever heard him be. And nearly contrite when challenged, which I have never seen or heard from him, either. He tends to get hostile and huffy when challenged. Not this time.
I thought that Kristof was gentler with him than he had to be, and I assumed that was a strategic decision. It was clear that Hedges has taken an immense amount of heat for his falsehood-filled polemic, and Kristof made it clear that OO isn't some separate thing, like a cancer alien to OWS; in fact, he said that OO and OWS are in contact all the time, and if Hedges wanted information about OO, OWS was happy to give him contact information; in fact they did. But Hedges never called.
But Kristof showed no antagonism toward Hedges and he did not descend into rhetorical violence while he calmly corrected the record and rather gently took Mr. Hedges to the woodshed. Ultimately, Hedges may prove to be a useful... ally.
Anyway, Hedges attitude when confronted with his falsehoods and smears of Occupy Oakland in this interview/"debate" is quite a contrast to his writing about OO from his perch at Truthdig.
The fun never stops.