Of Teabags and Stranger Things

You’re probably aware that a huge number of demonstrations are planned across the U.S. this coming Wednesday, April 15th; called “tea parties”, these events are supposedly nonpartisan, “grass-roots” protests against bank bailouts, tax hikes, and other recent unpopular economic actions the government has taken. In the last few days, there’s been a ridiculous amount of hysteria about these events online, with organizers and supporters – pretty much exclusively far-right ultraconservatives – claiming the George Soros-funded far-left liberals are out to infiltrate these events and try to discredit participants and organizers. There’s no real actual evidence for these claims, but who cares? Conspiracy, repression, oppression shock

The Left, for their part, are pretty unanimous in making fun of these events and those behind them, and allege that many of the organizers and participants are embarrassingly far-right extremists – out-and-out white supremacists, anti-government secessionists, and that sort of thing. They, not surprisingly, have some evidence to back up these sorts of claims.

Who are you to believe?

Well, it’s hard to disprove – or prove, for that matter – any of the conspiracy-theory stuff about “infiltrators” trying to discredit or embarrass attendees. However, if you’d like to get an idea about the kinds of people attending and organizing these events, I have a suggestion for you: Find your local/state website for these “tea party” events – Google is your friend, I’m not going to link to ’em – and dig through ’em to find the names of as many organizers and supporters as you can. Then, look those names up on your state’s court-records website; be sure to check both criminal and civil records, if they’re separate, as they are here in Minnesota.

I picked a couple websites at semi-random (going by which states have the most user-friendly court-records websites), and searched about a dozen names per event. The results were… instructive. They’re also, admittedly, open to interpretation…

To be honest, I really don’t care who or what these “Tea Party” people are, or what their ulterior motives and agendas are. More than anything, I find it instructive that they’re engaging in behaviour that is one-hundred percent consistent with that of virtually every (domestic) extremist group:

making deceptive, inconsistent, and easily-disprovable statements about their “true purpose” and “real beliefs”, while at the same time

railing against the corruption and injustice of the government, and

going to great if not hysterical lengths to warn and defend against a “conspiracy” of outsiders intent upon framing and/or defaming them with their actions.

I’m just sayin’, is all. You’re never going to get anywhere by constantly telling lies about fundamental things like who you are and what you believe in. It doesn’t just kill your credibility, but it destroys your chances at recruiting, expanding, and gaining power. The successful extremist groups, regardless of what their cause is, are up-front and honest about who they are and what they believe in: the National Socialists and white supremacists are growing in numbers – at a great pace, I might add – because they’re completely up-front and open about who they are and what they believe in. The various immigration-reform groups on the far right, by contrast, have failed to achieve any meaningful momentum, largely because they lie endlessly about their motives and agendas.

The ostensibly “we have laws, enforce them, damnit!” illegal-immigration groups achieved basically nothing, except to serve as recruiting services for the more open and explicitly racist/xenophobic groups out there who don’t lie about themselves. (I don’t support what they say, but I support their right to say it; it’s a free country, free speech, and all that. I really abhor hypocrites and liars, though.) Maintaining the fiction that these Tea Party demonstrations are non-partisan and purely to do with things like the Wall Street bailout is the surest-fire way to ensure that they, basically, fail. The organizers’ potential strengths come, let’s be honest, from their extremist base – the large anti-liberal, anti-Obama fringe. Those people undoubtedly love the anti-government message, but constantly being told lies about themselves means that the Tea Party movement is never going to grow: the extremists are going to get headhunted by other groups – militias, the Aryan Nations, whatever – who are more honest about themselves but are far less organized and coordinated, and the more moderate attendees of these “Tea Parties” – the ones who actually believe the propaganda about them being nonpartisan, blah blah blah – are for the most part going to be either uselessly apathetic sheep, or are going to be driven away by the harsh reality of what they’ve become involved with.

To put it more bluntly: Unless the people organizing these Tea Party protests become much more open about both who and what they are, and what their events are really about, the movement – such as it is – is doomed to failure, will not last a year, and will only benefit the Christian Identity, White Supremacy, militia, and secessionist movements, all of whom are already viewing – and for good reason – these Tea Parties as big open-air recruiting fairs.

They can never be honest about who they are and what they believe in, though; they’ve spent too much time and effort to date vehemently insisting they’re non-partisan, non-racist, non-anti-semitic, et cetera, et cetera. Except as recruiting tools for the various – let’s be honest, here – hate groups, the “movement” is going to fail, and that’s fine with me.

What worries me is that the people behind these events are going to learn from their failures, and come back in a year or two as a more overtly radical movement actually capable of long-term growth and momentum…

Published in: 'D' for 'Dumb', General, Security | on April 10th, 2009| 1 Comment »

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One Comment

  1. On 4/14/2009 at 5:40 am Nathan Said:

    It’s funny to see the Right adopt protester methodologies. I’ve long argued that the “protest” has been the most useless and outright counter-productive technique in the Left’s toolkit. I suspect that many of the tea party participants are quite sincere, but if this is how they’re going to try to effect change, they better not hold their breath.

    One person I know who has been involved in the tea parties complained that it was being infiltrated by “Truthers, Birthers, and John Birchers.” I don’t think that this is a ploy to claim persecution — I’m sure that he is correct. The problem is that when your central premise is that the president is being a socialist by raising taxes on the rich to, well, 10% less than what they were in Reagan’s day… if that’s your central premise, then you’re already living in inner-city Kookville, and you should probably get to know your neighbors. Or at least not complain when they try to get to know you.