Overheard on CNN.com: Politics of anarchy
FBI photos show Brandon Baxter, top from left, Anthony Hayne, Connor Stevens; bottom, Joshua Stafford and Douglas Wright.
May 1st, 2012
08:03 PM ET

Overheard on CNN.com: Politics of anarchy

Editor's note: This post is part of the Overheard on CNN.com series, a regular feature that examines interesting comments and thought-provoking conversations posted by the community.

One of the most talked-about stories on Tuesday was about five men arrested for allegedly conspiring to blow up a bridge about 15 miles south of Cleveland, according to court documents released Tuesday. Authorities say at least three of the men are self-proclaimed anarchists, and a lot of readers pondered what kinds of philosophies the men held and how they could be classified politically.

5 arrested in alleged plot to blow up Cleveland-area bridge

Readers speculated about the political backgrounds of the men. Several readers suspected they might identify with the Occupy movement, but some had other ideas.

BobRoss: "I love how some of these leftists try to deny reality (aka lie) by saying that anarchists are from the 'far right.' All of the major anarchist movements have been led by leftists and have been closely aligned with Marxism. By the statements for these guys it is clear that they are not in any way libertarians or 'right wing,' but sincere anarchists. I can understand though. I would try to deny their affiliation if I was you also. My guess is the Occupy Wall Street crowd is going to enter into a full PR campaign to distance themselves from these guys."

djfl00d: "Two flaws with your argument: Anarchists are anti-government. This is hardly a far left ideology, rather is closer to a far right ideology, yet is still inaccurate because if anarchists are anti-government, they are anti-political. Secondly, you have to think of politics as a circular scale, not a linear one. If you lean too far to either the right or the left, you begin to incorporate ideology from the other side."

Samilcar: "I'm certain these guys aren't connected to any Occupy groups. They all look like those violent tea partiers."

We heard from a lot of people who said it's not possible to know the men's affiliations at this point.

SavoryBrown: "It's definitely Obama's fault ... well, or maybe it was the tea party's fault. But either way it was definitely either the left wing or the right wing, for sure. There is no way it was just a few crazy people. Most assuredly, it was the fault of the political party I align with the least."

stateschool: "Although the FBI is providing no details, the sleuths in the comments section have already determined that the would-be bombers are Muslim Christian anarchist communist liberal conservative tea bagger Republican Democrat FBI agents."

Are conclusions about the men's views too self-serving, or do they hold merit?

pinetree51: "7ruthere wrote: 'Funny how the liberals are saying, "these guys are conservatives!!" and the conservatives saying, "these guys are liberals!!' That's because we live in a two party political system which closely resembles a sporting event. Since many Americans are so sports-driven, you are either on one team or another in their eyes. One team = good. Other team = bad. No other nuances or variations are possible in the sports world. Two teams. That's it. You are one or the other. Like dealing with grade school children."

TommyNIK: "Very well-said. It's the old 'black and white, no shades of gray' argument. There are shades of gray. It generally takes people of intellect both to recognize this fact and also to deal with it in a sane manner."

Who is the responsible party here?

Trilithium: "This is all Obama's fault."

Henne: "Nope, Bush's - still."

A few folks put the blame elsewhere ...

Icreatejobs: "I blame their barber."

davidp44022: "What barber? It looks like they cut their own hair."

If you're an anarchist, does that create additional problems?

Mike Drake: "The problem with anarchy is that it's very difficult to enforce."

sumguy2006: "It's funny when 'anarchists' try to organize something. Pretty much doomed to failure from the start."

A few of the commenters were critical of the sting operation.

Corey Warner:
"FBI: hey...you wanna blow some stuff up?
"Anarchists: Well...I don't know....
"FBI: C'mon, it'll be easy!
"Anarchists: OK...
"FBI: Here, take these explosives....
"Anarchists:.....are these even rea.....
"FBI: You're under arrest! Hooray! We caught us some terrorists!!!!"

Branamsays: "I agree. People say and do strange things under the influence of meth. These guys don't look like they could start a campfire, let alone blow up a bridge."

Cleveland, Ohio, can't get a break.

tequilala: "A bridge in Ohio is the first thing I would think of to blow up."

clemjones: "These guys were just trying to help the economy of Cleveland. If they blow up the bridge, it will put people to work, rebuilding it, burying the dead and planning how to stop future attacks. It's the same as Pelosi's philosophy on how unemployment stimulates the economy."

judahMaccabee: "If I was stuck in Cleveland, I'd probably be ready to blow up something too."

Keeping it clean.

astounded1: "Occupy a shower" (also suggested a washing machine)

WatAnon: "They'll have plenty of time for that with their new friends soon."

Or are they ...

JECD: "The Ted Nugent Fan Club. (It only has 5 members....)"

Some people couldn't get past the hair.

pOdPeOpLe: "Saw these guys play Coachella. They were pretty good."

astounded1: "Didn't they call themselves The Spin Doctors in the '90s?"

ENDFEDNOW: "So this is what happens to washed-up boy bands?"

tinwatchman: "Well, at least now we know what happened to the other members of N'Sync."

foreverwar: "Seems like they all get their hair cut by the same lawn service."

Or, maybe they're something far more sinister.

justincase04: "I'm pretty sure those are my sister's past five boyfriends ..."

What's your take on this story? How would you classify anarchists? Share your opinion in the comments area below and in the latest stories on CNN.com. Or sound off on video via CNN iReport.

Compiled by the CNN.com moderation staff. Some comments edited for length or clarity.

soundoff (80 Responses)
  1. EarlGrayHot

    Who's always griping about excess government? The Tea Party AND the Republicans who have been taken over by them. And no, every terrorist has NOT been afiliated with the left, sorry, wrong there. Here's a quote from an article on Wikipediea about Timothy McVeigh: "He also quit the NRA, viewing its stance on gun rights to be too weak." The NRA! A well known right wing organization! McVeigh thought they were too weak on gun rights!

    "Blood will flow in the streets, Steve. Good vs. Evil. Free men vs. Socialist Wannabee Slaves." McVeigh was CLEARLY not a left winger. He was extreme right wing and that's why he blew up a building and killed Amweicans, including innocent children. So don't go yammering about McVeigh being a left wing extremist. It just won't wash.

    May 2, 2012 at 10:02 am | Report abuse |
    • Tk

      If CNN did investigation they would find that the FBI who set these men up found them at an OCCUPY meeting. I am so disgusted that our media has given up investigating or is it intentional negligence. Well when you see CNN with poorest rating in 10 yrs that kinda explains it.
      I am not asking Cnn to go right or left I am just asking you to investigate and report the truth

      May 2, 2012 at 1:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Guest

      Where do they fall? How about we call them what they are shall we? Criminals and domestic terrorists. If they come into my neighborhood and try their destruction, they are going to meet my uncles; Colt and Smith & Wesson and their friend Mr. Bushmaster.

      May 2, 2012 at 1:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • jvermeer51

      McVeigh was an atheist, so not very evil right winger there. But his motivation was disgust when Clinton and Reno fried a bunch of wacko Christians in Waco. Now, liberals couldn't have cared less when wacko Christians get fried but conservatives do. So in that sense, McVeigh had some humanity that the left lacks.
      If you listen to the "anarchists", when they are at least marginally coherent, what they advocate is liberalism; big government controlling all the wealth of society. So anarchists, as Pelosi, Warren and the messiah indicated when OWS started, are really their guys.

      May 2, 2012 at 2:53 pm | Report abuse |
  2. justathought

    I wonder if anarchists are more independent rather than left or right, one thing is for sure, they are rebels against the government. Another thing, by blowing up a building or bridge or any other act of violence they are only making a statement that will not resonate favorably with the anyone. Nothing is to be gained except prison or even a death sentence.

    May 2, 2012 at 10:44 am | Report abuse |
    • Stan

      All this political theory pontification about where Anarchists fall on the political spectrum doesn’t amount to diddly squat. THESE five guys are Occupy Wall Streeters. The FBI informant infiltrated their group at their 21 October OWS in Cleveland rally as indicated on their charge sheet, and they were opposed to corporate America and the financial system, consistent with OWS dogma, in as much as the organization has been able to articulate themselves.

      Facts: Obama’s green jobs czar, Van Jones, is both a communist and OWS organizer as is Obama’s long term friend, weather underground terrorist Bill Ayres. Obama and other prominent democrats, like Nancy Pelosi, initially embraced the OWS movement until it became clear they were not media savvy, overdosing on heroin in shantyville’s, pooping on cars, raping their fellow protestors…

      The media labeled these guys “anarchists”, and all you posters are in a lather bickering about where that is on the political spectrum. The facts speak for themselves.

      May 2, 2012 at 1:22 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Sally

    I'm seeing a lot of plaid. I'm thinking...they are hillbillies.

    May 2, 2012 at 10:53 am | Report abuse |
  4. saywhat

    Why get bogged into this 'left wing, right wing' diversion. Terrorists. Period and to be treated as such under the law.
    @EarlGrayHot comments on Timothy are correct. Regardless of what group or mind set he belonged to, he was a terrorist.

    May 2, 2012 at 10:59 am | Report abuse |
  5. fernace

    Libera,l liberate, liberty=Freedom & derivatives of the word! The extreme liberals I met last year at my citys Occupy camp, were also extreme pacifist, as is true accross the board for uber-libs! They want to have "love ins," feed the poor, abolish the capitalistic system & live off what we grow! In True hippie fashion, basically! The far right people I've met in my state, are equally reluctant to "start sh..it, unless they mess w/me me & mine!" They just want their right to keep guns & the government far away from their business! Neither of these descriptions=Anarchy! I don't believe anarchists care about right or left, they think it's all the same, they're mad as he.ll & wont take it any more! They're poor, starving, sick, have no rights, their kids die before the age of 2, from preventable illnesses! There has been a lot of anarchy going on in the world, citizens of nations fighting against dictatorships, tyranny & for human rights! We don't need anarchy, We have a voice! VOTE!!

    May 2, 2012 at 11:00 am | Report abuse |
  6. William Demuth

    Humans are NOT linear so linear plotting of politics is a fool’s errand.

    We need at least two axis’s, and probably three.

    The left to right being obvious, then the up and down, from terrorist to anarchist.

    The third would be power sharing, with absolute power for a single person on one side, and no power for any individual on the other

    For example a dictator can be right or left, but he is always a dictator.

    This gives us a spherical pattern to map humans on.

    May 2, 2012 at 11:04 am | Report abuse |
    • eireanngobrach

      You can't have an axis going from terrorist to anarchist. They aren't opposing viewpoints. A two axis system that makes sense could have one axis being economic ideologies (running from communism to pure capitalism, i.e. neo-liberalism) and the other axis being social ideologies (running from authoritarianism to absolute libertarianism or anarchism).

      May 2, 2012 at 3:34 pm | Report abuse |
  7. banasy ©

    In my opinion, anarchists fall somewhere beween desperation and insanity; both parties contribute to that.

    May 2, 2012 at 11:06 am | Report abuse |
    • Jj

      Thank you banz for pointing out the obvious. Nut jobs are just that...jees

      May 2, 2012 at 11:31 am | Report abuse |
  8. Jeff Frank (R-Ohio) "Right Wing Insanity"


    May 2, 2012 at 11:15 am | Report abuse |
  9. hamsta

    i really love how the lame stream media refers to the tea party as terrorist and the occupy movement as pacifist.the tea party didnt trespass,interfere with hard working americans jobs.the tea par

    May 2, 2012 at 12:22 pm | Report abuse |
  10. hamsta

    The tea party didnt riot commit armed robbery or arsom.the tea party didnt vandalize or loot.all that was done by the occupy movement,they are far from pacifist they are terrorists.

    May 2, 2012 at 12:27 pm | Report abuse |
  11. chrissy

    After watching this on the national news, none of these men appear to be intelligent enough to even come up with this idea, even with the collective brain power of 5! So maybe it was a ploy to heighten fear in Americans about terrorists? Just sayin!

    May 2, 2012 at 1:17 pm | Report abuse |
  12. chrissy

    Lmao @ stan, i wondered how long it would take for someone to place the blame on OBAMA. Personally, im more inclined to believe they were coerced into this act by our *homeland security division* to insure their jobs by placing fear in americans.

    May 2, 2012 at 1:43 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Guest

    Where do they fall? How about we call them what they are shall we? Criminals and domestic terrorists. If they come into my neighborhood and try their destruction, they are going to meet my uncles; Colt and Smith & Wesson and their friend Mr. Bushmaster.

    May 2, 2012 at 1:46 pm | Report abuse |
  14. chrissy

    @ Guest, totally agree! But dont forget the cousin louie, as in louisville slugger! Lol.

    May 2, 2012 at 2:23 pm | Report abuse |
  15. proudcapitalistinfidel

    Where do they stand politically? Really? It's a mystery I tell you. Let's see, the occupy movement is officially endorsed by both Obama and Pelosi. These 5 are just part of a wing of the democrat party.

    May 2, 2012 at 2:55 pm | Report abuse |
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