Remember when you had to show your aunt Snopes.com because she kept emailing you forwards with animated angel GIFs about how drinking Coke can kill you? Someone needs to do that for Rick Perry. In New Hampshire Friday, Perry noted an email forwarded by his son that quoted a 38-year-old Occupy Toronto protester named Jeremy who whined that bankers work so hard he can't wake up early enough to protest them. Perry paraphrased Jeremy's complaints: "We got here at 9 o'clock, and those people ... those bankers that we came to insult, they'd already been at work for two hours when we got here at 9 o'clock, and when we get ready to leave, you know, they’re still in there working. I guess greed just makes you work hard." Perry and everyone else laughed. But Jeremy isn't real; he was made up by the Toronto Globe and Mail's Mark Schatzker, whose column was clearly labeled "satire."
Conservatives have been mistaking fake Jeremy for a real protester for a week. He just too perfectly fits their idea of an Occupy Wall Street protester not to be real. The power of Jeremy is most evident at The American Spectator, where Shawn Macomber quoted it sincerely under the headline "Deep Thoughts from Occupy Wall Street Toronto" on October 24 before updating that it was satire. But the fake quote was so good, The Spectator's J.P. Freire quoted it as real three days later: "Self Parody Alert: Occupy Toronto Doesn't Get It." But alas, it is J.P. Freire who doesn't get it. He quickly updated, "Is this a parody? Maybe?" Not maybe. Actually.
Fake Jeremy even made it into the mainstream media -- Forbes' Bruce Upbin noted this "Actual Quote from Protester Occupying Bay Street of Toronto’s Stock Exchange" on October 28 before realizing his mistake. But it's conservative bloggers who love him the most. Jeremy makes so many people feel good about themselves.
On October 24, Say Anything's Bob Port quoted the shiftless fake Jeremy, and cautioned, "One narrative that has emerged from the 'Occupy Wall Street' protests is one, promoted by the protesters themselves, which has the movement being the target of those who want to silence them. ... Nothing undermines their own positions and philosophies so thoroughly as what they actually do and say." Perhaps Port can think of another narrative. Power Line's John Hinderaker pointed to "the remarkably good Say Anything" and quotes the clueless fake Jeremy, saying:
It probably is news to the occupiers that getting into the 1 percent actually requires work. So, who is greedy–the guy who works hard and wants to keep most of what he earns, or the guy who wants someone else’s money, but isn’t willing to pay the price to earn it?
UPDATE: Upon further review, prompted by my wife, I think the quotes attributed to occupiers at the linked site are jokes. Pretty funny ones, too. The point, I think, remains valid.
It is a remarkably strong point that remains valid when 100 percent of the facts used to support it are revealed to be jokes. On October 25, the Cynical Economist scoffed, "Jeremy will never understand why he is going to be poor all his life." Poor imaginary Jeremy is probably already on imaginary food stamps in his imaginary public housing. Godfathers Politics singled out lazy fake Jeremy, saying, "That’s Why They’re the One Percent." The blog explained the facts of life:
When I graduated from college, I started out stocking shelves in a grocery store. I worked 70 hours a week. The manager offered me the assistant manager’s job at a new store they were opening. At the time, I had a bicycle for transportation and was living in a one-room apartment. I declined the offer, because I knew I needed to go to graduate school. I worked my way through graduate school. When I graduated, I took a teaching job that paid me $10,000 per year with no health insurance or retirement program.
Of course, one wonders why the Godfather took that teaching job instead of working long hours on Wall Street. Surely bankers get health insurance. Guess that's why Godfather isn't in the 1 percent.
It's worth noting that the person who brought fake Jeremy to Perry's attention was his son, Griffin, who "is not a Wall Streeter but works in the financial side of things." Guess the folks in the financial side of things need to comfort themselves with the fact that they're so much more hardworking than the slovenly protesters. Even if they have to do it with fake facts.