Protocols Of The Elders Of Times Square

Freedom can be confusing.

We’ll come back to that.

I’ve told this story many, many times.  I think it’s still illustrative.  Back in the nineties and early naughties, you could predict a few things about GOP gatherings.

  • At precinct caucuses, you could be assured that there would be an avalanche of pro-life/anti-stem cell/anti-gay-marriage resolutions.  In the former two cases, they would be largely redundant with what was already in the platform.  No matter; they had to be debated and voted up or down, one at a time.
  • At legislative district (“BPOU”, in the MNGOP’s curious parlance) conventions, there’d be two big clusters of people in the room.  To stage right, there’d be a group of pro-lifers.  To stage left, there’d be everyone else.  And if one was running for a district office, one could expect a series of questions about one’s commitment to life.  “Are you pro-life?”  “How pro-life are you?”  “Please describe exactly how pro-life you are?”  “If your pro-life-ness were a mountain, which mountain would it be – Denali, K-2 or the Matterhorn?”

And pro-lifers weren’t the only single-issue voters.  During the nineties, after the nadir of the Clinton crime bill and Alan Spears’ various attempts to ratchet up gun control in Minnesota, the shooters came out.  And it could lead to comical results; pro-lifers would occasionally express revulsion at rolling back gun controls, while some of the shooters were visibly bored at the pro-life talk.  They came for their issues, and their issues alone.

That was then.

Now, we have the Tea Parties.  And while the left and media (pardon, as always, the redundancy) likes to try to portray the Tea Parties like Nick Coleman once referred to “peasants beating on the observatory door” with pitchforks and torches, they are actually a whole lot more complex – John Kerry’s word was “nuanced” than that.  You see a lot of people at these rallies who, two years ago, didn’t care about politics, who a year into the Obama administration have taken it upon themselves to educate themselves.

And there are many roads to education; there are as many stories at the Tea Parties are there are participants.  Some reacquainted themselves with Reagan.  Many others in Minnesota arrived via (Minnesota-based syndicated talk show host) Jason Lewis’ long-running Tax Rallies, and Lewis’ heady introduction to the Federalists and Limited Government; Lewis, with his MA in Political Science, gives a pretty compete education in Federalist history.  Others come via other media figures – Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Hugh Hewitt – to a new appreciation iof what limited government means, and how far off from that ideal we currently are.  Another contingent were brought to politics by the Ron Paul campaign.  And you can find others who filtered into the movement from immigration reform, pro-life and other groups, including a few from groups that we can tactfully call “the fringe”.

All of them – the good, the weird and the rhetorically ugly – come together for one reason; they want to put government back in its place.

Which, compared with the anything-goes, single-issue-bound GOP of 2000 and 2004, is pretty exciting stuff.

And as with anything that excites conservatives, the left and media (pardon, as always, the redundancy) must spin it as some sort of potential depravity or another.

Commenter “Master Of None” drew my attention to NYTimes piece on the Tea Party movement yesterday.   I read it.

At first read, it was almost encouraging; it seemed at first blush to pay some service to the most important facet of the Tea Parties; that represents a wave of self-education, an “awakening” if you will, on the part of an awful lot of people.   It almost seemed like the NYTimes might start portraying Tea Partiers as people; actual individuals with their own motivations, each as unique as they are.

I said almost.

The Tea Party movement has become a platform for conservative populist discontent, a force in Republican politics for revival, as it was in the Massachusetts Senate election, or for division. But it is also about the profound private transformation of people like Mrs. Stout, people who not long ago were not especially interested in politics, yet now say they are bracing for tyranny.

I chewed on that last clause for a bit.  A phrase like “bracing for tyranny” has two different meanings in our society.  To a big chunk of “Red” America, it means “being aware that unlimited government can not end well”, with a twist of “so let’s not let it get out of control” on top.

But to an NPR-listening, Times-reading, down-the-nose-at-the-hoi-polloi-looking putative “elite”, it’s a code phrase, for something the “fearful, Jebus-clinging, John Birch-reading gun freaks” do.

In other words, it’s something foreign.  Un-American.  Worthy of fear and, inevitably, fear’s eldest child, hatred.

These people are part of a significant undercurrent within the Tea Party movement that has less in common with the Republican Party than with the Patriot movement, a brand of politics historically associated with libertarians, militia groups, anti-immigration advocates and those who argue for the abolition of the Federal Reserve.

“Militia groups”.  It’s another media code word; the unwashed, insane, depraved, usually racist undercurrent that Blue America sees hiding under every rock between the Hudson and the Sierra Madre.

Urged on by conservative commentators, waves of newly minted activists are turning to once-obscure books and Web sites and discovering a set of ideas long dismissed as the preserve of conspiracy theorists, interviews conducted across the country over several months show. In this view, Mr. Obama and many of his predecessors (including George W. Bush) have deliberately undermined the Constitution and free enterprise for the benefit of a shadowy international network of wealthy elites.

“Shadowy international networks”.

You see some of that at the Tea Parties.  Again, it’s the fringe; the people with the beards and camouflage and the huge potbellies and the pamphlets that gather around the fringe of  the Tea Party rallies, mixing uneasily with the vast majority; the people in dockers and polos, or work boots and embroidered shop jackets, who make up the vast majority of people at the Parties.  People like you and me and, someone tell the Times, your typical Times reader as well.

Oh, the Times gets parts right – enough to make the whole thing worth a read:

The Tea Party movement defies easy definition, largely because there is no single Tea Party.

Defiance of easy definition notwithstanding, the Times wants you to accept their facile definition anyway.

And those facile definitions are always based on fear of the great unwashed unknown:

At the grass-roots level, it consists of hundreds of autonomous Tea Party groups, widely varying in size and priorities, each influenced by the peculiarities of local history.

“Ah”, I thought.  “This could be good!”.   The rural west is a fascinating sociological hodgepodge; my own hometown in North Dakota jumbled college professors with their urbane, sometimes far-left beliefs, together with engineers (from a few local manufacturers) and business people (mostly fiscal conservatives) and agribusiness types (conservatives who loved farm subsidies)  to a few drastically-misplaced hippies, and always, always the farmers – including a few who’d been driven to radical populism by the hard times.

Who do you suppose the Times would be focusing on today?

In the inland Northwest, the Tea Party movement has been shaped by the growing popularity in eastern Washington of Ron Paul, the libertarian congressman from Texas, and by a legacy of anti-government activism in northern Idaho. Outside Sandpoint, federal agents laid siege to Randy Weaver’s compound on Ruby Ridge in 1992, resulting in the deaths of a marshal and Mr. Weaver’s wife and son. To the south, Richard Butler, leader of the Aryan Nations, preached white separatism from a compound near Coeur d’Alene until he was shut down.

Of all the “local peculiarities” to pick, what do you suppose the odds were?

The piece focuses, throughout, on the Tea Parties’ most paranoid lunatic fringe – almost as if to say “pay no attention to the populist awakening behind the curtain, Boston and New York and San Francisco!  They are unclean!  These are the bitter, gun-clinging Jesus freaks we warned you about!”

If they can’t beat the Tea Party on the facts, it’s logical that the next step will be fearmongering.

26 thoughts on “Protocols Of The Elders Of Times Square

  1. And they forgot to the far west (PDX) and east (BUF) perhaps, the madrassas where radical cleric’s preach…..oh, sorry wrong theme.

  2. The problem the New York Times has is that those who belong to the Tea Party probably don’t read the New York Times, don’t care what the Times thinks of them, and certainly wouldn’t recognize themselves from the Times’ definition. Everybody else is going to try to compare the credibility of the Tea Party folks they know or have heard with that of the New York Times, and we pretty well know how that comparison will turn out. In short, the Times is just careening towards irrelevancy at its usual salubrious pace.

  3. Wow, the media focusing on the interesting fringe. Like they did with the RNC protesters.

    It’s a media problem. They’ve tried so hard to not be boring that people no longer recognize reality, and see the world as being made up of nothing but what is really a very small percentage of people.

  4. Wow, the media focusing on the interesting fringe. Like they did with the RNC protesters.

    True, except that the MSM didn’t say “the anti-war, anti-Bush movement is closely linked with people who build turd-bombs, throw sandbags onto buses, vandalize businesses and spray acid in old ladies’ faces; it traces ideological roots to the people who destroyed Seattle and committed the Holodomor“.

    They didn’t declare widespread guilt by association like this article does with the Tea Parties.

  5. it traces ideological roots to the people who destroyed Seattle and committed the Holodomor

    Couldn’t bother the lmedia with that. Don Shelby probably thought Holodomor was a new restaurant going into Block E.

  6. I read the same article yesterday.

    The question becomes do the fringe take over the GOP, as some of those stockpiling guns ammo and survival food expressed an interest in doing, or does the right repudiate their own lunatic fringe (however small or not so small it may be).

  7. Mitch, spot on about the caucus and pro-life, it seemed that if pro-life wasn’t your number one way beyond any other hot button issue you probably wouldn’t get to be a delegate…
    Wake up people, we are spending our way into the dustbin of history and you want to focus solely on Roe v Wade?

    That behavior tends to drive away people from the grassroots GOP. The GOP should leave that kind of behavior to the DFL.

  8. The question becomes do the fringe take over the GOP, as some of those stockpiling guns ammo and survival food expressed an interest in doing, or does the right repudiate their own lunatic fringe (however small or not so small it may be).

    Dunno, DG. Because I think the real “question” “is” “when will the left repudiate the “humanity should voluntarily extinct itself for the good of Mother Oerth” crowd?

    What? You say “they will take over the Tic party when hell freezes over?”

    Indeed.

  9. Looks like stooj and deegee swallowed that psudo-link between “fearful, Jebus-clinging, John Birch-reading gun freaks” and the GOP platform. hook. line. and sinker.

    ….

    “NPR-listening, Times-reading, down-the-nose-at-the-hoi-polloi-looking putative “elite”,”
    heh heh heh

    Hi Dog Gone! I hope you are having a very sophisticated day. Just remember that you don’t have to take this crap from people like this since you have a lot better class of friends with which to converse.

    BWCA campers are NOT the “lunatic fringe”.
    *cue Wizard of Oz… Guns and ammo and food, oh my! Guns and ammo and food, oh my! Guns and ammo and food, oh my!*

    But, really, only a far-left liberal kook would actually question that the GOP could be taken over by Randy Weaver and Richard Butler.

    Trust me, DG, a tote full of Mountain House is nothing for you to fear.

    Bwwwwwwwwaaaaaaaaaaaaaahahahahahahahaaaaaa!

  10. “do[es] the fringe take over the GOP,” – No, absolutely not.

    “or does the right repudiate their own lunatic fringe” — No need to, they’re not part of the GOP. Are you responsible for people on your left or right?

  11. Jewing said: “The problem the New York Times has is that those who belong to the Tea Party probably don’t read the New York Times, don’t care what the Times thinks of them, and certainly wouldn’t recognize themselves from the Times’ definition.”

    You want they should write about teabaggers where they’d actually read about themselves? A Nascar hood or Froot Loops box maybe?

  12. Oh boy clown- no way i`d join a tea party now! You really got us with them there debating skills!

  13. Wow! Zing! Where do you come up with that stuff, Mr. Clown?
    I must tell you, however, that your point would be more salient if the last person to go nuts & shoot a bunch of people wasn’t a big ol’ liberal Obammy supporter, or if the last guy to try and blow up a plane full of people wasn’t a brown-skinned foreigner.

  14. Hey Teabaggers!

    TEABAGGERS?!?!?!?! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!

    Oh. Mangy Clown. STOP, you’re killin’ me!!! Man, that side-splitting laugh you induced was worth your staying up half the night to produce that witty repartee. I bet you just kill all your fellow clown-boxers at your favorite corner bar in Secaucus.

  15. Dog, you’re turning into Grace Kelly. Fight the urge.

    Hmmmm, you know, now that you mention it, in addition to leftist boobery DeeGee and Grace do share the same third grade level writing skills.

    Has anyone ever seen DeeGee and Grace in the same place at the same time? Mitch?

  16. Has anyone ever seen DeeGee and Grace in the same place at the same time? Mitch?

    I have actually met them both.

    DG has the advantage of being a capable writer and not insane.

  17. DG has the advantage of being a capable writer….

    Hahaha! C’mon Mitch…next you’ll be telling us that Avidor is an accomplished artist!

    Hospitality is all well and good, but there’s no need to go overboard.

  18. Ignorance is not insanity. Neither Grace or DeeGee are insane, they’re just not very bright.

  19. Gotta disagree, Swiftee. DG is plenty bright. I disagree with plenty of her politics (by no means all), but she’s no Grace.

    {{facepalm}}

    NOBODY else is Grace.

    C’mon Mitch…next you’ll be telling us that Avidor is an accomplished artist!

    Let’s not get crazy here.

    Hospitality is all well and good, but there’s no need to go overboard.

    Nah, DG’s an old friend. One of many that pop up in this comment section.

  20. Looks like stooj and deegee swallowed that psudo-link between “fearful, Jebus-clinging, John Birch-reading gun freaks” and the GOP platform. hook. line. and sinker.

    Or, if you read what I wrote, you’d see I called the crazies a fringe, small-percentage of the Tea Party group. But that would require you to understand, and not knee-jerk respond to people who think differently than you.

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