When people start wearing guns to rallies, what’s the next thing that happens?
– Tony Stewart, a leading civil rights activist (according to the article), quoted in “Tea Party Movement Lights Fuse For Rebellion on Right”, David Barstow, The New York Times, February 16, A1
On the front page of today’s New York Times was a lengthy hack job on the tea party movement. I ordinarily wouldn’t comment on the article here but for two reasons. One, it was most read article on nytimes.com when I read it an hour or so ago. Two, it is the most inaccurate, smear piece posing as reporting on the front page of a leading US newspaper I have ever read. The New York Times, my second favorite newspaper after The Wall Street Journal, should be ashamed of itself for publishing this kind of garbage.
The basic strategy of the piece is to associate the tea party movement with racism and violence:
- Ruby Ridge is mentioned three times, Aryan Nation twice and Waco once, all gratuitously.
- Tea party movement participants are repeatedly characterized as all-white and it is implied that their opposition to Obama is because of his skin color.
- Tea partiers are linked with the militia movement and groups and websites I’ve never heard of until reading the article: Oath Keepers, ResistNet.com, Infowars.com, Richard Mack, a former Arizona sheriff who wrote a booklet titled “The County Sheriff: America’s Last Hope”.
- Guns, armed resistance and the threat of revolution are reported as regular topics of discussion at tea party meetings.
- Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin and Fox News are cited as important media and political figures of the movement.
Of course, anybody who really cares about the truth knows that these things have nothing to do with the core of the movement. The core of the movement is about limited government, low taxes, a free market economy, individual freedom and the original values of the Constitution and The United States of America. Hence the term “tea party” which refers to the famous Boston Tea Party which catalyzed the American Revolution more than 200 years ago.
Rather than being some outside of the mainstream, fringe movement, as the article tries to paint it, the tea party represents core American values that still mean something to a broad swath of Americans. That’s why the movement has generated so much energy and participation and that’s why liberals like this writer and his type are so anxious to smear and dismiss it.
Independents and third parties are growing in power and increasingly represent the swing votes in American elections (for example, see “The Identity Crisis In American Politics”, Top Gun FP, January 3, 2008). Many in this category are sympathetic to tea party ideals which have already made their mark on national politics with the election of Scott Brown to the Senate in Massachusetts last month.