The NY Times Dealbook section takes a very sympathetic look at the Occupy Wall Street protests, On Wall Street, a Protest Matures.
The article leads with a feature on Andrew Cole, who arrived from Madison, Wisconsin (shock!) where he recently lost a job:
“I think a good deal of the bankers should be in jail.”
That is what Andrew Cole, an unemployed 24-year-old graduate of Bucknell University, told me Monday morning in Zuccotti Park, the epicenter of the Occupy Wall Street movement. Mr. Cole, an articulate young man dressed in jeans, a sweatshirt and with a blue wool beanie on his head, had just arrived by bus from Madison, Wis., where he recently lost his job.
There was nothing particularly menacing or dangerous about Mr. Cole. He said he had come to participate in Occupy Wall Street because he believed in its “anticapitalist” message. “I see Wall Street as responsible for the mess we’re in.”
The New York Times does not tell us where Cole was working prior to being laid off. Must be construction, or perhaps one of those state workers brutalized by the evil Gov. Scott Walker and the Koch Brothers. Or perhaps some heartless business which puts profits over people.
No, a simple Google search reveals that Cole is a professional progressive operative, having worked — according to his LinkedIn profile — for the past three years for the Progressive Patriots Fund, which he still lists at his employer:
September 2008 – Present (3 years 2 months)
Trained and dispatched by Senator Russ Feingold’s PAC to work in the field for Eric Massa’s congressional campaign in New York’s 29th district. Responsibilities included volunteer recruitment, voter contact, and coordinating the GOTV push for a campaign satellite office in Canandaigua, NY.
Let’s say Cole was really fired by Progressive Patriots Fund, and his LinkedIn profile is not up to date, was the firing for real or just a set up so that Cole could agitate in New York City and make sure to get interviewed by media outlets as the face of the Occupy Wall Street movement?
Is Wall Street to blame for the fact that a progressive political action group fired Cole? Or if Cole had some interim job since that time, the fact that he now is unemployed?
Cole does not fit the profile of the downtrodden, hopeless, disaffected youth portrayed in the article. Cole comes from an upper-middle-class family and was sure to be a wise shopper for colleges, being featured in a U.S. News book about shopping for financial aid packages.
And if Cole did not immediately find a new job after being fired by Russ Feingold, or lost some other job recently, is it Wall Street’s fault, or the fact that Cole devoted his college experience to studying such job-relevant topics as Struggle, Revolution, and the MST: Reflections on the Meaning of Resistance:
The following is an ethnographic account of the motivations, attitudes, and ideology of several residents of Lenin Paz II, a Brazilian land-reform settlement in the northeastern state of Ceará. The particular focus of the study is on the reasons these individuals decided to get involved with the social movement (Movimento dos Trabalhadores Rurais Sem Terra) that brought them to the settlement after a 2-3 year process of land occupation. Theoretically, the paper focuses on the development of a collective sense of social or class consciousness amongst the landless who were interviewed, drawing heavily on James Scott’s theory of resistance outlined in Weapons of the Weak: Everyday Forms of Peasant Resistance.
Andrew Cole is not what he seems, and neither is #OccupyWallStreet.
Update: Mark Finkelstein at Newsbusters has the story of another Occupy Wall Street protest leader, a former employee of an investment bank!
Further Update: The photo in The Times article is not of Cole. I wonder if the “Andrew Cole” in The Times’ article is the same as “Andrew P. Cole” who received funds from Feingold’s Progressive Patriots Fund, and if so, if he is the Andrew P. Cole who writes for the Socialist Worker Party newspaper and describes himself on Twitter at follows:
Socialist, writer, musician, activist, wage slave. Member of UAW 1981, the National Writers Union.
Update 10-5-2011: I received the following e-mail from Cole:
I’m writing in response to your hit piece on me posted to Legal Insurrection.
I no longer work in Democratic party politics. My politics have evolved significantly since that time. I don’t hide this fact. I told Andrew Sorkin about my background and he chose not to report it.
But you should be clear about one thing: the Democratic Party and professional progressive orgs aren’t involved with Occupy Wall St.
Second, yes I did come from a middle class family. I was optimistic about my future when I gave that interview to US News and World Report as a naive 17 year old. But seven years later, I’m no longer middle class and no longer
optimistic. That downward mobility and my otherwise bleak prospects are what has driven me and a diverse group of others to occupy Wall St.
Good luck with your smear campaign. I hope digging up Internet dirt on people is satisfying work.