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Associating with Occupy Wall Street also links Democrats to their other causes, which are equally extreme. For instance, the Boston extension of the protests, Occupy Boston, held a rally this week in support of one Terak Mehanna, a Muslim pharmacist from the Boston suburbs. Protesters declared that Mehanna was a victim of anti-Muslim bias and formed a “support committee” to aid his cause. But bias is not the reason Mehanna is on trial. According to the U.S. government, Mehanna provided “material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization,” and acted as a “media wing” for al-Qaeda. Among other charges, Mehanna is alleged to have conspired to attack civilians at a shopping mall, American soldiers overseas, and American government officials. Mehanna’s case is not yet settled, but it would hardly reflect well on Democrats if they became backers of a movement that cheers al-Qaeda terrorists. In this connection, it does not help the Occupy Wall Street campaign’s image that it has received the endorsement of Iran’s theocratic dictator Ayatollah Khameini, who enthused this week that “Ultimately, [Occupy Wall Street] will grow so that it will bring down the capitalist system and the west.”
Dubious allies aside, it is also the case that the protesters themselves are not exactly a picture of wholesome democracy in action. The New York Post reports that the Occupy Wall Street rally in downtown New York is now full of drug addicts, drunks and convicted criminals. Some have been violent, assaulting medical volunteers and scuffling with police. Then there are the crazies who are part of the protests, including neo-Nazis and racist and anti-Semitic loons. It’s true of course that there are some reasonable people taking part in the rallies. But it’s also true that there are many radicals in the crowd and more and more they are shaping the popular impression of this chaotic campaign.
Ironically, the group that stands to gain from the Occupy Wall Street protests is the Tea Party the protests are supposed to counterbalance. Tea Party activists are already planning a national ad campaign that would contrast the Occupy Wall Street’s anarchic and unruly crowds with the orderly middle-class folks who show up at Tea Party events. Portrayed as extreme by the Left, the Tea Partiers look more than reasonable compared to the radicals in the ranks of Occupy Wall Street.
Given how desperate things are for Democrats, it is understandable that they want some way to drum up populist enthusiasm and mobilize supporters. But the Occupy Wall Street protesters – disorganized, disgruntled and politically radical – are much more likely to blemish the party’s brand than to boost it.
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