"To announce that there must be no criticism of the president, or that we are to stand by the president, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public." -- Theodore Roosevelt

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Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Why is the Left Afraid of Tea Parties?

I am fascinated by the Left's fear of the ongoing Tea Party protests.

William A. Jacobson over at Legal Insurrection has an interesting post here. He catalogs a few of the various smears from sources such as the New York Times and Media Matters. Jacobson also, significantly, notes that his posts regarding Tea Parties received great amounts of attention. Jacobson writes "my post Tea Parties Are Sooo Scaaary generated more hits for me from more sources (blogs, posting boards, elsewhere) than almost any other post I have written." I would hazard to guess that his most recent post "Liberal Doughboys Afraid of Tea Parties" will likewise garner much attention.

Over at And So it Goes in Shreveport, Pat has noted at upswing in troll activity on her blog. From my own perusing on her blog, I've noted that much (though certainly not all) of the rancor seemed directed at Tea Party posts. Very few posts regarding Tea Parties were left unchallenged.

What I find interesting is that the Left seems so intent on discrediting the protests. Despite the fervent spitting the Left indulged in during the Bush presidency, conservatives largely ignored such protests. While Cindy Sheehan (spelling?) and other anti-war demonstrators were featured prominently on CNN and in other mainstream programming and newspapers, I cannot recall any concerted effort by the Right to discredit their concepts of protest. Sure, the protesters weren't on too many conservatives invites and private discussions were generally disparaging and even personally insulting. They certainly wished they would go away. Michelle Malkin and other conservative pundits and bloggers went so far as to research the protesters' backgrounds and presented their cases, and confronted them on the issues being broached. No one that I know of attempted to infiltrate and shill their way into their discrediting their right to protest. No one I know of attempted to label them as a dangerous bigot, separatist, or revolutionary. Maybe this did happen, but it must have been on a small enough scale that the media did not report it.

Yet, we get lines such as these with great regularity. "The Tea Party movement represents a real danger to the tenets of democracy Americans have embraced for centuries." And then "These are not tea-parties. They are tea-tantrums. And the adolescent, unserious hysteria is a function not of a movement regrouping and refinding itself. It's a function of a movement's intellectual collapse and a party's fast-accelerating nervous breakdown" (both are quotes posted in Legal Insurrection's "Tea Parties are Sooo Scaaary"). And this comment from someone unsure of how to work the shift key, or maybe it was e.e. cummings: "huh? i'm a liberal and i've been all over the coverage of tea baggers. most of what i've seen is complete mockery of the teabaggers (have you seen all the videos?). no one i know is 'scared' of the demonstrations, they're looking forward to them. i know i am."

Why the exaggerated sneering bile? Why the over-compensated fear?

Once again I think of Shelby Steele's beautifully reasoned essay "Why the GOP Can't Win With Minorities" in the Wall Street Journal. Steele writes, "When redemption became a term of power, 'redemptive liberalism' was born -- a new activist liberalism that gave itself a 'redemptive' profile by focusing on social engineering rather than liberalism's classic focus on individual freedom. In the '60s there was no time to allow individual freedom to render up the social good. Redemptive liberalism would proactively engineer the good. Name a good like 'integration,' and then engineer it into being through a draconian regimen of school busing. If the busing did profound damage to public education in America, it gave liberals the right to say, 'At least we did something!' In other words, we are activists against America's old sin of segregation. Activism is moral authority in redemptive liberalism."

I think Steele is quite correct in tying the Left's activism directly into its sense of moral authority. And, if he is to be believed, then it can be seen that Tea Party protests are a direct affront to the Left's sense of moral authority. When conservatives get together to protest, despite the shunning of most of the MSM, despite the best efforts of Media Matters et al to derail them, and despite the inclination of most conservatives to avoid public displays of political activism, an ugly confrontation begins. Now the Left must not only defend itself from the protesters' oppositional view, but also must defend against the moral authority they see inherent in activism.

Yet, Tea Party protests are indeed quite different from the Left's. First the ranks of the Right are not swelled with professional protesters and organizers the way that the Left's are. Tea Parties, for all their disorganization, varied purposes, and at times misdirected anger, are truly amateur affairs. In that way they gain legitimacy. They are truly citizens' products and not the photo-ops of ambitious, low-ranking politicians, well-paid race-baiters, and B-list celebrities.

Being decidedly unhip also adds to Tea Parties' genuineness. After all, not too many people are going to show up and participate because it's the cool thing to do.

Most significantly though, this sort of protest is different in that it doesn't denigrate others for the reclamation of moral authority. While the liberal activist seeks forgiveness (Steele's white redemption) by ironically declaring minorities inferior and in need of largess, by assaulting the opposing views of others in order to reaffirm the rightness of their own, the Tea Party protester is unfettered by such leftist sensibilties. The Tea Party protesters are united by issue, not by the need to prove their morality. And that is something to be proud of.

1 comment:

  1. It's true that the Tea Parties are grassroots efforts despite the Left's penchant for calling them Astro-Turfed, professionally organized movements from Fox News. The Left criticizes our protests but by gosh, let Cindy Sheehan pitch a tent in Crawford, TX and it's headline news, great stuff.

    I'm looking forward to our Tea Party tomorrow and will be interested later to see the nationwide coverage. I'm betting a 10 or maybe 20 second spot on the 6:30 news spots. I will also be interested to see the kinds of people they choose to interview - I'm betting they'll put up the most uniformed protester with the worst sound bite who will probably be a left-wing infiltrator.