So as you may have heard, the Tea Partiers are set to get back in the news next weekend with a big “March on Washington” to protest health-care reform, the bailout, climate-change legislation, and all those other intolerable encroachments on freedom that the Obama administration is planning.
The Tea Party Patriots — which, along with the corporate-backed FreedomWorks, is the prime organizer of the march — have worked hard to portray their movement as a reasonable, principled, non-violent opposition. Among the confirmed speakers for the rally are GOP lawmakers who are leaders of the conservative movement like Jim DeMint, Mike Pence, and Marsha Blackburn.But sometimes the darker side of the Tea Party scene slips out.
On their website, the Tea Party Patriots list other Tea Party groups around the country, as a resource for activists — one of which is a Connecticut-based group called the New Boston Tea Party. And on its own site, The New Boston Tea Party makes clear that it’s helping to turn people out for the September 12 march.
But the New Boston Tea Party hardly offers the kind of reasoned, respectable opposition that the Tea Party Patriots attempt to embody. Currently, the site’s lead item — about the president’s planned speech to school kids next week — is entitled “Dr. Barack Goebbels Obama, Chief Reichmaster Tuesday September 8, 2009.” Another recent post, based on the false “death panel” rumor, discusses Nazi doctor Josef Megele’s human experiments on concentration camp inmates, before declaring: “WE NOW HAVE ANOTHER DR. MENGELE, AKA BARACK HUSSEING (sic) BARACK MENGELE.”
It’s worth noting that the Tea Party movement is intentionally decentralized. Anyone can start a group with the phrase Tea Party in the name, and put up a website. And there’s no way that the Tea Party Patriots can monitor them all, or prevent them getting involved in the march. Even listing the New Boston Tea Party on the TPP site may be indicative of nothing more than sloppy vetting.
But in a sense, that’s exactly the point. It’s basically impossible for the “respectable” leadership of the Tea Party movement to ensure that their ranks don’t include the kind of people who call Obama both Goebbels and Mengele in the space of a few days. And that’s because, frankly, unhinged crazy people simply make up too great a proportion of the movement to be kept permanently at arm’s length. If you’re going to connect people to local like-minded groups around the country, some of them are going to be like this.
Indeed, we’re pretty confident that, with a bit more digging, it wouldn’t be hard to find a few more local groups that use similar rhetoric and that are welcomed under the Tea Party umbrella.
That’s less an indictment of the Tea Party leaders than it is a sad commentary on the state of the “small-government” conservative movement.