by John M. O'Hara
We live in seriously challenging times – times that warrant serious conversations on the state and direction of our nation. From the fiscal crash course our nation is on to the ever-present threat we face from Islamic terrorism, there’s plenty of fodder for constructive political discourse. Many on the Left, however, are bent on marginalizing opposing views by any means necessary. The censorship and number fudging exposed in ClimateGate is one recent example.
The tea party movement seems to perpetually be in the crosshairs of the Left’s most insidious propaganda artists. A post on taxpayer subsidized NPR’s blog that’s getting some attention this week features a video by Mark Fiore entitled “Learn to Speak Tea Bag.” The cartoon gives mock step-by-step instructions on what Fiore believes is the modus operandi of tea party activists. Fiore unintentionally serves up a nearly all-inclusive package on all that is dishonest and malicious about the Left’s continued campaign to discredit this wildly popular grassroots force.
Fiore’s isn’t the first and likely won’t be the last tea party hit job. Everyone from the President to “mainstream” media commentators have joined in since the movement’s inception in February 2009. This multifaceted attack on the tea party movement has revealed an interesting trend that mirrors the evolving tactics of a maladjusted, intellectual deficient schoolboy bully.
Kindergarten: Don’t like what someone has to say? Call them stupid! A central theme of Fiore’s video is that those that make up the movement are uneducated. I’ve collectively seen hundreds of thousands of attendees at the various tea party events I’ve been to. While degrees aren’t required for admittance, I think it is safe to say that there are a few smart folks in this large, popular movement. Furthermore, how Fiore and others can simultaneously deride the movement as dumb yet high-tech GOP “Astroturf” is beyond me.
While Fiore mockingly encourages viewers to “learn to speak tea bag,” he could use some lessons on the English language. His presumably self-penned biography contains a glaring redundancy: “[Fiore]…creates political animation from an undisclosed location somewhere in San Francisco.” [Emphasis added] As Michelle Malkin recently wrote, obscure cartoonists like Fiore aren’t the only ones trying to tally IQs. In a piece that reads at best as a backhanded compliment to the movement’s influence, David Brooks of the New York Times recently juxtaposed the tea party movement with…Democrats? No! He contrasted them with the educated class. Ah! The Left’s agenda is not only inherently progressive, but intellectually informed and fact based!
High School: When the pesky protestors just won’t go away, make a sex joke and call them gay! Fiore invokes “tea bag,” a reference to “teabagging,” a sexual act invoked to mock the tea party movement – an implicitly homoerotic joke. This is a staple in the Left’s anti-tea party propaganda campaign lexicon. (See other slurs from Anderson Cooper, Rachel Maddow, and Keith Olbermann, to name a few.)
College: If simple name calling just won’t work, it’s time to break out the big guns – something politically charged and completely unfounded that just sucks the air out of the room. Drop the racism card! This is a very common (and very effective) tactic invoked by intellectually frustrated leftist students, aging hippy professors, and university administrators on campuses across the country. Chris Matthews isn’t the first to invoke it, but he recently revived this move in a double whammy sexual/racist slur.
Graduate School: When the racist card gets old, it’s time to get to undermine the foundation of the issue at hand. Fudge the facts! Fiore isn’t the only one guilty of this of course, but his video has one real whopper. In it, he implies that tea party activists are being dishonest about the health care debate because many Republicans have received money from health care industries. This is a great trick. For one, it implies a necessary link between the movement and the GOP – a fallacy. While the principles of the tea party movement – fiscal conservatism, individual responsibility, limited government – are more often than not going to be advanced by the Republican Party, there is no intrinsic link. For example, at the event I ran on tax day 2009 in Chicago, Michael Steele was publicly turned down as a speaker. (Not surprisingly, this received little press coverage and certainly wasn’t weighed as hard evidence of the movement’s nonpartisanship.)
Nor is there a responsibility of all tea party activists to answer for the political contributions of a handful of Republicans. It is, of course, fair game to dig into the political contributions of politicians opposing and pushing ObamaCare. Sure, many Republicans have and will continue to receive money from “special interest groups” including those related to the health care industry.
So do Democrats, though. In fact, Barack Obama received more money from health industry lobbyists than any presidential candidate in history. Not only did he receive more than his opponent John McCain, but more than George W. Bush in both of his campaigns combined.
Does this impact President Obama’s allies’ votes or closed-door House-Senate reconciliation for a final ObamaCare bill? How about the President’s policy stances? What about his decision to renege on his promise to televise health care debates and to instead hold closed-door meetings with these very same special interests in the West Wing? (For more “odd alliances” exposed, see my review of Tim Carney’s Obamanomics.)
Dropout: When none of these more “cerebral” attempts work, many on the Left drop the attempt at any semblance of reasonable discourse and turn to threats. Tea party activists regularly receive threatening emails and phone calls. Others are at the receiving end of actual violence. Take Kenneth Gladney, who had racial slurs, fists, and feet hurled upon him by SEIU thugs at a tea party protest.
While these transparent attempts to undermine this movement are frustrating, I encourage my tea party compatriots to take heart and stick to the high road. These superficial tactics and inaccurate claims will lose their effectiveness in the long-run. As with the bullies you may have encountered in the buses and hallways of your school years, these attacks reveal deep emotional and intellectual voids in the hearts and minds of those that perpetrate them. Finally, if your mere involvement in the political process is triggering this much vitriol from politicians and members of the media big and small, you’ve got to be doing something right.