Despite numerous requests for comment from the now-infamous "Days of Rage" protester Robert Stephens ("with a PH!"), I still haven't heard back. I did, however, manage to track down a blog post he apparently authored, responding to my, er... "right-wing smear campaign."
Let's review: Robert joined other liberal protesters in New York last weekend to participate in demonstrations on Wall Street, though his personal gripe seemed to be specifically aimed at Chase Bank. According to Robert, Chase was scheming to "take" his parents' home from them after they had "played by the rules." After a bit of research, however, The Blaze learned that the Stephens' home was not in foreclosure and that his parents were merely contemplating a short sale. In other words, no big bad bank was "taking" their home.
Despite these clear-cut facts, Stephens took to his blog to defend his protest and its false pretense:
In early 2010 my father was diagnosed with cancer. His health had been deteriorating for some time, and in the beginning of that year he became disabled. At the same time my mother, who was president of an adoption agency, lost her job. My parents struggled to pay for my father’s health and keep up payments on the mortgage for a year until it became clear in early 2011 that they would be unable to bear the weight of all the cost and they would lose their house. I had just started my first year of law school in the midst of all of this and I hated leaving my father at a time when I knew he needed help. My father was a Baptist minister for over 30 years, who had preached with an intellectual sharpness and with a compassion that touched many people. It was hard to watch him struggle to get out of the bed, and barely have the energy to speak, let alone preach a sermon.
February was the lowest point for me. At that time, my parents began trying to use a short sale in order to avoid the forcible repossession of their house; although if the house did not sell then the bank would foreclose. When I returned to visit my parents, we were getting multiple calls from the mortgage holders and they began placing doorknockers on the door giving notice of missed payments. I had to stand by as my parents’ lives crumbled around them, with no security in where they would live six months down the road.
[Side note: When I phoned Mrs. Stephens' non-profit organization today, they told me that she still worked there. ::shrug::]
Instead of taking a couple of semesters off from his $70,000/year law studies to help, Stephens demands that society as a whole ensure that his parents stay afloat amid economic and medical emergencies. More specifically, he demands that Chase Bank -- the bank that invested its own money to help his family purchase a home in the first place -- ignore the fact that his parents had past-due bills. This isn't merely an anti-capitalism protest -- it is anti-reality.
But like any good liberal, Robert soldiered on in his defense, resorting to one of the most trusted weapons in his rhetorical arsenal: the race card.
My dad grew up in segregation era North Carolina, my mother in segregation era Pittsburgh. They struggled against a rigid system of racial oppression to get their educations, so they made sure that I would have the best possible opportunity to go even further than they did. They continued to face racial discrimination as the achieved their livelihoods, but the [sic] persevered so that I would have a chance to learn and to be safe.
I kept repeating that I was ready to be arrested because I know how criminal justice tends to treat Black men (see Rodney King, a Black man beaten by police while on his knees etc). Additionally, as I was on my knees people were being beaten all around me, including some of the camerapeople. In my eyes, they and the other victims of police brutality on that day are heroes.
I won't discount the notion that racial discrimination exists in the world, but wonder how on earth it possibly hindered them. Without such "discrimination," would Robert's dad have two PhDs instead of just one? Would his mother have pulled in $200,000/year instead of the $100,000 she reportedly earned last year? If this is what "discrimination" looks like, where do I sign up?
He continues, oddly enough, by acknowledging that it's his parents' financial troubles -- not the bank -- which are leading them to seek a "short sale."
(Note: Robert seems to use the term "short sale" to refer to either his parents' urgency to free up capital by selling their home or that in their haste to sell, they will be taking a loss on the property. He has not clarified this and I don't think he necessarily needs to, but thought I should point out that "short sale" seems like an odd label in this situation.)
So when the news came that my parents’ sickness and unemployment would induce the need to short sale the house to try to avoid foreclosure, I was heartbroken. This couldn’t be how it would end for my parents, and it certainly could not end in silence. So, I began writing on the internet and joining together with other like-minded people. However, writing online was not enough. If my parents were losing their home, and they had skills and education, imagine how bad it was for other people with even less. I knew that I had to do something, so I planned to go to the #OccupyWallStreet rally and physically manifest our internet criticism.
I slept outside in the park on Friday night, and on Saturday I participated in the march. Although I knew there was a chance that by just showing up I would be arrested, I didn’t plan on doing an intentional act of civil disobedience. However, when I saw the Chase bank, tears filled my eyes and I could only think about how I had just seen their logo on my parents’ door. The march had just begun and was being contained on the sidewalk; I knew that by walking into the street I would be arrested.
Not only did he know he'd be arrested by ignoring the police officers' orders to vacate the street, but he pleaded with them to take him to jail.
I also want to take a moment here to point out that being critical of Stephens' misguided protest doesn't mean I'm cold-hearted or indifferent to his family's plight -- a charge the liberal left looooves to make. But this is merely a tactic used by people who know that in an intellectual and/or logical debate, they have no leg to stand on and resort instead to relying on feelings and emotions to win support for their cause.
I approached this story, however, from a purely logical side, pointing out that Chase Bank had no actual role in forcing any member of the Stephens family from their home. Nevertheless, Stephens decided to attack the messenger:
The blogs have been reporting a story that I made up this entire situation and that my parents are choosing to move.
Once again, let's go back. We've established that the banks are indeed not "taking" his parents' home. Additionally, his parents do have a choice: pay your bills or leave. They are choosing the latter just as Robert is choosing to continue his school rather than take a job to help his parents pay their bills.
This lie was achieved by a reporter from The Blaze calling my mother, pretending to be my friend, and then ambushing her with questions.
In fact I did call and speak with Stephens' mom, Marquita, and our conversation was quite cordial. I'm a professional. I never pretended to be Robert's friend. I simply explained to his mom that I had tried to reach her son via email and phone for comment -- information I got via Facebook. I also told Robert's mother that I worked at GW Law -- I'm somewhat surprised he's not also accusing me of impersonating a professor! All of this information was only disclosed after I clearly identified myself as a reporter with TheBlaze.com.
It is true that my parents are doing a short sale, but that is because they are under tremendous pressure from the bank in addition to my dad’s cancer. This blog said that because the bank was inducing my parents to sell their home in a short sale, and give Chase all of the money, it wasn’t the same thing as foreclosure, so it wasn’t that bad. These blogs are trying to say that I don’t belong out there with other #OccupyWallStreet protesters.
Short sales are clearly not the same things as foreclosures and Stephens should probably learn the difference should he ever have to argue a case in real estate law in the future.
In another false charge, I never said that he didn't belong "out there" with the other protesters -- I can think of no other place more appropriate right now for an ignorant liberal to wallow around in their own self pity than at the so-called "Days of Rage."
He goes on to say that he and his fellow protesters comprise 99% of freedom-loving Americans -- blah, blah, blah. The end.
Perhaps most annoying about his whole charade is how his empty protest demonstrate the incredible hypocrisy he shares with so many others on the left. Capitalism is a great system when it means liberals like Stephens can earn money, drive around in a little red sports car and buy really nice houses in even nicer neighborhoods -- nothing wrong with that, that's the American Dream. If you earn the money to afford it, go for it.
But when the going gets tough and they're no longer able to reap the material benefits of our capitalist system, they're ready to throw the entire thing out the window just to make sure that everyone else can be as miserable.
So while Robert thinks I may be doing "the bidding of the financial industry" by pointing out the fallacies in his shallow protest, I'd like to stand with my fellow conservatives to say:
You are the one percent and we won't stop because we believe our cause is just. You can't stop us because our numbers are too strong. We can't stop; we won't stop. We are the 99 percent.