The Danger in the Extremist Rhetoric of the Tea Party
Violent language can too easily translate anger into violent action.
As a youthful admirer of leftist protest movements during the 1960s, I became a connoisseur of violent political rhetoric. Which is to say that I‘m acquainted with the power of angry words to fuel explosive action. And how, like mystics chanting a mantra to enter a mindless trance, extremist activists, on both the left and right, can hypnotize themselves into believing some really crazy stuff.
Now I know better. And that's why I'm so scared of the anger that surrounds some members of the so-called Tea Party movement and their allies on the right-wing lunatic fringe. I'm afraid that their more susceptible constituents are going to start taking these paranoid delusions seriously and start acting on them.
I'm painting with a broad brush here, so let me reiterate the point I've made in previous comments about the Tea Party: It has legitimate political concerns, including taxes, the crushing burden that our burgeoning national debt will lay on future generations, and the shape of Barack Obama's health care reform.
But, at least some of the group (and some of those who seek to channel its version of righteous anger to their own, outsized political ambitions) have, indeed, talked themselves into some really crazy stuff.
They've talked themselves into believing that a foreign-born Muslim terrorist sympathizer whose real name is Barry Soetoro changed his name to Barack Obama to make it less threatening to voters. And that Obama, whose liberal views and support for free enterprise are well within the long-standing mainstream political consensus, is presiding over a socialist--or communist or fascist--takeover. Some have even managed to convince themselves that devious left-wing agent provocateurs insinuated themselves into that mob outside the U.S. Capitol to hurl racist and homophobic slurs at congressmen in an attempt to discredit the protest against health care reform.
The question is why are these people so doggone angry? Self-serving Republicans like former Vice President Dan Quayle--and aren't you glad he's no longer a heartbeat from the Oval Office?--maintain that much of the passion stems from independent voters who backed Obama, but are now disappointed with his big-spending liberalism. But that analysis is belied by both common sense and polls showing that on most issues the views of Tea Party members coincide with those of the GOP.