Because of this assumption, members of the Tea Party right, like the members of the New Left, spend a lot of time worrying about being co-opted. They worry that the corrupt forces of the establishment are perpetually trying to infiltrate the purity of their ranks. – David Brooks New York Times Columnist
First of all I want to apologize to all of those people from the peace movement, civil rights movement, and the other groups from the sixties who fought and died for long denied social change in America for this article from David Brooks. Obviously while so many Americans were actually trying to grapple with a social system that they felt no longer represented who they were Mr. Brooks was too young to know what was going on. I have a real hard time taking anyone seriously who writes about a period of history that they did not actually participate in. To me most post-history is either conjecture or an attempt at a mulligan for those who are promoting their own agendas.
At no time has this fact become more true as it is now during the current period in our history when we are about to be bombarded by the "memoirs" of the disgraced Bush officials and their apologists. The three poster children for this period of selective amnesia ought to be Cheney, Rove, and now Brooks. If this column weren’t so dangerous it would almost be laughable. The reason that this column is dangerous is that it attempts to give legitimacy to the tea-partiers as neo-hippies taking on "the man" and "the system". Nothing could be further from the truth. The tea-partiers began as astro-turf bankrolled by the defeat health-care lobbyist and no amount of cover from the right will legitimize them.
What Mr. Brooks fails to realize is that there are profound differences between what the tea-partiers are protesting and the protests of the "new left". Has he forgotten that there was actually a war going on in Southeast Asia that was taking the lives, dreams, and family members of hundreds of thousands of Americans? Has also forgotten that blacks were living under the crushing oppression of Jim Crow while their civil rights were being denied in all areas of America? Has he forgotten that many blacks were still being lynched, sent to prison, and beaten for trying to express the rights that he and his friends take for granted? His attempts to equate the tea-partiers exploits to those of people who were willing to risk life, limb, and future for a true cause is not just disingenuous, it’s an insult to the memory of all of the slain civil rights workers and anti-war protesters.
To be fair many people may actually believe that President Obama is a foreign-born citizen and is not legitimately President. There also may be those who truly believe that he is leading the country towards socialism through a government take-over of healthcare. There may be those who truly believe that the federal budget was balanced prior to his taking office, that the country was at full-employment, and our economy was flying right along until President Obama’s coup took over in January of 2009. The truth is that we know that the "paranoia" of the sixties radicals was well founded by the release of so many FBI documents and internal government memos. To compare their legitimate fears to those of a bunch of folks many of whom who have some form of government healthcare today who believe that healthcare reform is a government plot to create death panels is unconscionable.
Actually, I am quite pleased that the Republicans are trying to recruit the tea-party folks it will give them a taste of what Democrats go through daily when you have a big tent. When you allow every voice to be heard you are liable to hear some things you weren’t expecting and for a party where everything is scripted right up to the candidates voting record for the next 10 years this could be a little disheartening. I agree the tea-partiers are radical and theatrical but to compare corporate mouthpiece Dick Armey to Saul Alinsky who spent his life trying to improve the lives of those less-fortunate is a stretch even for Brooks.
"Negroes were being lynched regularly in the South as the first stirrings of black opposition began to be felt, and many of the white civil rights organizers and labor agitators who had started to work with them were tarred, feathered, castrated -- or killed. Most Southern politicians were members of the Ku Klux Klan and had no compunction about boasting of it" – Saul Alinsky
For David Brooks to try and give credence to the "straw" and "boogie" men of the tea-partiers as being similar to the new left is criminal. Mr. Brooks, I don’t know where you got your research of the sixties and seventies but you might leave that history to those who were actually there. Another small difference between the two that continually gets ignored by the mainstream media is during the protests of the new left all races were represented because the issues being addressed affected all the people in the country. Where is the "melting pot" with the tea-party movement? If the issues they are protesting actually affected us all like the injustices of racism or the destruction of a senseless war where are the rest of the folks? Are minorities not concerned with losing their freedoms in a communist takeover?
One of the most important things in life is what Judge Learned Hand described as 'that ever-gnawing inner doubt as to whether you're right.' If you don't have that, if you think you've got an inside track to absolute truth, you become doctrinaire, humorless and intellectually constipated. The greatest crimes in history have been perpetrated by such religious and political and racial fanatics, from the persecutions of the Inquisition on down to Communist purges and Nazi genocide. – Saul Alinsky