The Limits of Nutpicking

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Oct. 21 2011 11:31 AM

The Limits of Nutpicking

LAS VEGAS -- Yesterday, as I snapped photos of the Occupy Las Vegas march on the Sunset Strip, I tried an experiment. I sent this photo out via Twitter.

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Anti-Semitism at an Occupy march! This proved everything the Emergency Committee for Israel was saying! Or did it? I snapped this photo and sent it out.

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The protester, wearing a "Don't Tread on Me" Gadsden T-shirt, told me he was a Ron Paul fan who'd also supported the Tea Party. My point really should have been banal: Protests attract crazy people whose opinions don't reflect the rest of the protesters. Justin Elliott has done some spadework on the two anti-Semites who are being used to prove that the Occupy movement is a Trojan horse for Jew-haters, and hey, surprise: They're both nuts who protest anything that drifts into their fields of vision. The ballyhooed "search for anti-Semitism" in the Occupy movement is really just a conservative revenge plot for all the nasty ways liberals tried to link Tea Partiers to the LaRouche cultists who showed up with Obama/Hitler signs. And... yeah, that's pretty much it. If you start defining any attacks on bankers as "anti-Semitism," you're not rooting out evil -- you're trying to scandalize and hush up legitimate grievances.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter.