The Top Fake-Out of 2011

Posted by By at 4 January, at 09 : 15 AM Print

Looking back, 2011 was a year full of fake-outs. Political, sporting, and cultural fake-outs.

All of these failures to deliver left disillusioned people in their wakes. Some, like the Jerry Sandusky\Penn State sex abuse scandal, left a lot of hurt and disillusioned people in its wake, not to mention the abused boys who welcomed the miserable company into their sad world.

The top political fake-out has to be the Occupy Wall Street “movement.”

OWS is not really a movement in the sense that lots and lots of citizens belong to it and it is representative of some larger but still-quiet change coursing its way through the body politic. Heck, there might be a thousand people per state who actually participated in OWS-themed activities across America. Maybe not even a thousand people per state. Busing in professional activists and workers from across the country to protest sites is well documented. So maybe it’s 500 people per state?

We are talking about at most twelve thousand people out of a nation of 350 million, and maybe only six thousand people.

But you’d never know it from the media reporting on it. OWS and its clones in California, Ohio, Harrisburg, PA, and elsewhere had maybe a handful of people at any site except the actual Wall Street site of Zuccotti Park and the ever-ready-to-protest San Francisco. But the media treated these few people as though they were the harbingers of great change. Their violence, filthy living conditions, rapes, drug use, vandalism, incoherent rants, circular discussions, and racism were routinely ignored in reports by mainstream media outlets (on the other hand, new news outlets are sprouting up right and left, like, as POV videoed interviews of OWS kids are posted to YouTube and other sites).

But despite the actual sparse numbers of actual participants, the once-vaunted Columbia University is now actually teaching a course called…”Occupy Wall Street.”

That’s right. Both an undergraduate and graduate level course on OWS will be taught at what was at one time one of the nation’s premier centers of higher education. No one at Columbia is really sure what will be taught in these courses, but I am willing to bet that the filth, drugs, rapes, violence, vandalism, racism, incoherence, sedition, treason, and slovenly behavior at OWS sites will not be part of the syllabus. Columbia University, like all other “Ivy League” schools, has now just dropped another notch in the estimation of middle class families looking for a good return on their investment in Little Jane and Johnny’s education.

But OWS will also live on as a “movement” to be studied, emulated, promoted.

Never mind that two years ago a pro-Second Amendment rally on the steps of Pennsylvania’s state capital that attracted 1,500 supporters from across the nation received zero mention in the local newspaper, the Patriot News, while mini protests of two to five people waving placards against the Iraq War (where have they been the past three years, one wonders) were routinely covered as though they actually represented some sizeable part of the population.

OWS does not represent many people in America. Maybe five percent, or ten percent in a really bad economy like we have now. But their friends in the mainstream media make sure that their voices and position in the news are amplified far beyond their actual numbers and importance to American political discourse and electoral outcomes.

OWS should be studied, as the biggest fake-out of 2011. And maybe one of the biggest fake-outs in American history.

Photo by Atomische • Tom Giebel


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A product of rural Central Pennsylvania, Josh First enjoys hunting, fishing, trapping, hiking, canoeing and saltwater fishing. He is a graduate of Westtown School in Chester County, Penn State University, where he majored in political science and minored in history, Middle East Studies, and Spanish, and Vanderbilt University, where he obtained a Masters Degree in Government with emphases on economics and statistics. Josh's work experience includes the U.S. EPA in Washington DC, the PA Department of Conservation & Natural Resources, the first Pennsylvania Director for the Conservation Fund, a national non-profit conservation group based in Arlington, VA, where Josh helped protect about 50,000 acres, including the Flight 93 crash site, and the acquisition of the last piece of Pickett's Charge in Gettysburg Park. Josh now runs, a full-service real estate company in Harrisburg, with clients and investors in the natural resource, timber, natural gas, mining, and construction industries. Josh is a serial political campaign volunteer, and ran in the 2009-2010 Republican primary for the PA-17th Congressional District ( He served on the Tom Corbett for Governor Environment, Energy and Sportsmen committees, and was a member of the Corbett-Cawley Administration Transition Team for Environment and Natural Resources. Josh is a board member of several state-wide and regional organizations. He is married with three children, and lives in Harrisburg. - Email Josh First

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