That weird feeling you get when you read the Weekly? It's your brain being washed.
According to LaRouche Youth Movement activists at UC Irvine, OC Weekly is part of a conspiracy "to impose fascism, no matter what," a "cabal" whose members run in a direct line from Vice President Dick Cheney to Village Voice Media editorial boss Mike Lacey.
Think about it: just three degrees of separation between you and the most powerful man in the world, Dick Cheney.
You can find LYM activists on the UCI campus almost every day, pitching literature from a card table alongside frats, CalPIRG, and the Bible ladies. Like the students pushing Operation Santa Claus, LYM is pushing a fantasy involving an old man and little kids.
The old man is Lyndon LaRouche, a self-described philosopher and "leading Democrat" who served five years of a 15-year sentence during the 1990s for mail fraud and tax code violations. If you know him at all, you're likely to think he's a crackpot, a guy who deploys Marxist-sounding rhetoric on behalf of some pretty weird shit. Like his idea that "the Beatles were a product shaped according to British Psychological Warfare Division (Tavistock) specifications, and promoted in Britain by agencies which are controlled by British intelligence." Or that Queen Elizabeth is a drug lord. That the B'nai B'rith and the Freemasons created the Ku Klux Klan and the Mafia. That jazz is a mind-control device designed by slave-holding oligarchs and their allies, "the classically trained but immoral George Gershwin and the Paris-New York circuit of drug-taking avant-garde artists."
In that context, the idea that OC Weekly is working for Dick Cheney seems really believable.
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A couple of weeks ago, a snaggle-toothed Latino guy at UCI gave me "The Bottom Feeders," an article in a LaRouche publication that explains how I've come into the employ of the White House. According to LaRouche reporter Anton Chaitkin, my boss, Village Voice Media Executive Editor Mike Lacey, uses our company's national sales team to raise the money he uses to purchase papers like OC Weekly and LA Weekly. He transforms the papers into pro-Bush publications, and adds them to his "nationwide chain of weekly throwaway urban papers that profess to be 'intellectual' but make their money from pornography and dating service advertising."
Chaitkin gets so much wrong in his account that it's hardly worth trying to correct the record. Lacey runs the edit side of the business, not sales. And Chaitkin's claim that LA Weekly "sent its reporter from Los Angeles on a 'Get LaRouche' mission to Boston, where the LYM has had a powerful impact over the past two years" elicited this from my counterpart in LA: "I have no idea who or what he's talking about." (In an e-mail, Chaitkin declined to answer questions about his story, saying only, "I think what I have written stands on its own legs.")
Chaitkin's outline of "the several interlocked pieces of the cartel campaigning" for Cheney is a wild, multinational genealogy. It includes a Wall Street financier named John Train; "Anglo-Dutch" banks; Goldman Sachs; a conservative student pub at UCLA called the Bruin Standard; Dick Cheney's wife, Lynne Cheney; sex-advice columnist Dan Savage (whose column does indeed run in OC Weekly) and the Seattle paper Savage edits, The Stranger; J.P. Morgan; "German Hitlerite Carl Schmitt"; the book The Bell Curve; Irving Kristol; the University of Chicago; psychologist R.D. Laing; the National Endowment for the Humanities; communist-turned-conservative David Horowitz; Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman; and my boss, Michael Lacey.
Chaitkin calls this "the campus Gestapo."
And now that you are reading this, we have you.
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LYM's swap-meet intellectualism accounts for the fact that UCI students familiar with LYM can't say precisely what the group stands for or who Lyndon LaRouche is.
"They're very left," said Jeffrey Thomas, a senior biology major. He says the LYM activists who frequent UCI "have a lot of little pamphlets." He tried reading them, but with no success: "I don't know what they really want. They're not very good at articulating a point of view."
"They're super-liberal," said an undergraduate who, like others, asked that we not use her name. "Or maybe just super-extreme."
"What's the point?" asks another undergrad. "They're into agitation for the sake of agitating people."
If no one's clear on the group's politics, its tactics are unmistakable: recruitment and protest; the students who requested anonymity said they'd be hounded by LYM activists if their names were associated with any criticism of the group. At a Nov. 6 campus speech by Ayn Rand Institute president Yaron Brook, LYM activists stood and sang, called Brook a Nazi—and were promptly arrested by campus police. Of the 15 protesters thrown into UCI squad cars, campus police officials told the Weekly that only one was a UCI student, and he was not an LYM member. The others, said campus police chief Paul Henisey, were from Los Angeles County.
That suggests that LYM has failed to leverage its near-constant presence on the UCI campus into a significant local—what's the word?—cadre.
Failed for the moment: the gerontocracy running the LYM—LaRouche himself is in his mid-80s—is ambitious about organizing kids on college campuses. Starting in 1999, it began pitching LYM as an alternative to college. A LaRouche spokesperson declined to comment for this story (the Cheney connection), but last month told a Michigan newspaper that its youngest members come to LYM for "a classical educational program that centers on re-creating the original discoveries in science and art from the original sources, rather than the conventional classroom approach of merely learning to repeat what is reported in secondary textbook sources."
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That's likely to appeal to the brilliant but bored as well as the terminally dumb. But if LYM promised UCI students nothing more than lectures on Einstein and some German-language singing, it'd be nothing more than a bizarre New England prep school. No, what LYM really delivers is meaning on a big scale—the sense that we live in a kind of End Times and that only a few bright, courageous kids stand between fascism and liberty. That's heady shit for a kid bombing out of freshman comp.
But when you read about the process of turning ordinary kids into LaRouchies, you can't help thinking that LaRouche's critics, the ones who say he's running a cult, have got it right. In a press release describing a 2004 LYM meeting in Los Angeles, a LaRouchie reported, "The first panel included a presentation by Leni R. on Friedrich Schiller as a historian and a great writer of truth. As an example, the LYM performed parts of the play Don Carlos. An intense argument developed after some tried to defend today's counterculture, but realized they were acting based on emotions and not thinking."
Keep in mind that you're reading all of this in a paper, which, despite its reputation as a communist rag, is actually—unwittingly—doing the dark work of the Republican Party. I asked Mike Lacey, my boss, what it was like to be part of an organization the LYM calls a "Gestapo," headed by a man like Dick Cheney.
"Frankly, Dick was always a little standoffish prior to the [November] election," Lacey told me. "Sure, he liked the cash stream [from our papers], but for some reason he blames Dan Savage for his daughter's 'issues.' Now, with Mr. Macaca going down to defeat in Virginia, Cheney has changed his tune. He thinks the key to immigration problems might be wider circulation of 'Ask a Mexican!'"