The New Republican Party Endorses Domestic Terror
by Nathan Empsall, Sun Feb 21, 2010 at 03:57:41 PM EST
It’s a sensationalist headline, I know. But it’s kind of true. I'm no hyper-partisan, but a spade's a spade and a Scott Brown quote is a Scott Brown quote.
The Tea Party-9/12 movement is increasingly a movement of violence. Maybe you consider the murders of Dr. Tiller and the Holocaust Museum guard part of that movement, maybe you don't, but the undeniably concrete examples are still plenty enough: guns outside presidential speeches, speakers and party chairs stating their desire to murder U.S. Senators, and now, a terrorist attack on federal offices in Austin, TX. And yet, as evidenced by Internet reactions, the tone of this year’s CPAC conference, and an interview with the newest U.S. Senator, the Republican Party’s latest incarnation is going out of its way to endorse the Tea Parties and thus, by extension, their violent methods.
After jumping the gun on the Kentucky census worker, I held off on blogging about the Austin attack on the IRS, but the facts are now in: suicidal murderer Joe Stack shared the rhetoric and views of the Tea Parties. And what’s the Republican Party’s reaction? Do they eschew this act of terror and finally stand up to the increasingly dangerous Tea Party rhetoric? Did they take a stand at CPAC? Not so much. According to Golden Boy and alleged “moderate” Senator Scott Brown (R-MA), the attack, while "tragic," isn’t anything to worry about because “no one likes paying taxes, obviously.” When asked his reaction to the murder and its motive, all he would say is that people are frustrated at the government.
So that’s the Republican Party’s new message on terrorism: it’s okay, as long as it’s aimed at American liberals. My, how patriotic of you.
To those who would say highlighting these events is just cherry-picking the fringe of the Tea Party movement, I have two answers. First, even if it is only a small, unrepresentative fringe spurned to violence by the fuller movement’s rhetoric, it is still that larger rhetoric that inspired it, and the results are still atrocious. I am reminded of the Southern Poverty Law Center, which holds racist groups legally accountable for the violent actions of their fringiest of fringe members.
But more importantly, I do believe that this violence truly is representative of a large swath of the Tea Party – perhaps not a majority, but certainly more than a fringe. One piece of evidence is the right-wing’s social networking reaction to the Austin IRS attack. Twitter was alive with support for Stack's terrorism, and over 2 dozen Facebook groups were created just to cheer the man.
Another is this video of Rachel Maddow’s coverage of the CPAC Conference, the conservative party’s annual confab turned this year into one giant Tea Party. Yes, it’s from a liberal source, but you can’t deny the point she makes at 6:30: the movement’s own literature showcases the images and rhetoric they otherwise try to convince us isn’t so representative.
There is, however, some solace. The danger of this movement is in its rhetoric and its ability to influence the Republican Party the way the religious right did until so very recently, but not in its ability to actually field its own successful candidates. The winner of the 2007, 2008, and 2009 CPAC presidential straw polls? Mitt Romney. The winner of the CPAC/Tea Party 2010 straw poll? Ron Paul. With the Tea Party in charge, CPAC and the conservative movement are clearly losing their ability to stay grounded in, their words not mine, “real America.” As Politico's Jonathan Martin Tweets, "Paul folks made something of an effort at straw poll. The inaction of others & these results won't augur well for future cpac s polls."