Occupy Wall Street (OWS) has often been portrayed as the Tea Party’s ideological mirror image: a left-wing response to the global economic crises that began in August 2007. Initiated with a tent city in Manhattan’s Zuccotti Park in mid-September 2011, spinoff “Occupations” soon spread across the United States and then to cities across the globe. These protests, which targeted the federal government’s cozy relationship with the banking interests that caused the economic collapse, channeled the mounting anger of those most devastated by the economic meltdown, especially debt-ridden students, the unemployed, and people who lost homes in the subprime mortgage crisis.
But this mainstream-media view tends to gloss over the involvement of right-wing and conspiracist groups in Occupy. In the perception of many participants, the Right’s presence was largely limited to a lone homeless man who paraded antisemitic signs around Zuccotti, which became the basis of a right-wing “smear” campaign. More recently, venture capitalists like Tom Perkins have slandered Occupy, absurdly comparing its attack on wealth inequality to the Nazi persecution of Jews. Because of this, many progressives plug their ears when they hear about right-wing groups and Occupy.