First the pleasantries: Happy Martin Luther King, Jr. Day AND Happy Birthday, First Lady Michelle Obama!!!
Now the unpleasant: The Teapublican Maoist Revolution
This past week, I watched roughly five minutes of "The View". I don't have many experiences of watching more than five minutes of "The View" other than the separate appearances of President and First Lady Obama and an occasional clip. On the day in question, however, there was a discussion of the Arizona tragedy and a defense of Sarah Palin by Barbara Walters and Elizabeth Hasselbeck. The defense from the latter would be unremarkable and easily expected if it weren't for one thing - Hasselbeck's history of commenting on the power of the media and suggested violence in regard to her own safety and the safety of her family.
Law and Order fans may remember the "Elizabeth Hassenback" debacle. L&O writers created the character as a victim of repeated rape and eventual murder. I dislike Elizabeth Hasselbeck's political views. Her poorly crafted arguments and retorts in defense of republican political thought and actions are a waste of air space, in my opinion. Having said that, I found the L&O Hassenback character deeply offensive. Was the name a coincidence as suggested by the show's producers? I don't buy it for a moment. Hasselbeck didn't buy it either. Hasselbeck's, responses, when confronting one of the show's executive producers:
"I told him 'Look, I want to let you know that I think it's socially irresponsible and gruesomely suggestive to do this in today's day and age,"
Hasselbeck said that incident made her feel like she never wanted to sit next to an SVU cast member again. "I think those are good actors and good people, but I can't sit next to them without feeling as though I have been disrespected and just put at risk."
Her reaction, I believe, was rational under the circumstance. It was as rational as Gabrielle Giffords' concerns when she commented on the Palin map that listed her name and her district in crosshairs. I would have felt exactly the same as Hasselbeck and Giffords. I would have been angry and fearful. In their shoes, I may have spent weeks if not months or years looking over my shoulder. It's what makes EH's comments about the suggestive words of others being completely unconnected to the irrational behaviors of irrational people, so hypocritical now.
The debate over how culpable Palin is in the shootings in Arizona is reasonable - we don't yet know what triggered the (alleged) shooters' rage. We only know that whatever his mental health issues are, they took place in the context of a increasingly verbally violent environment. The debate I CAN'T understand is whether Palin is culpable in creating a toxic and uncivil environment. That Hasselbeck of all people appears to now argue against the possibility of a connection between the heinous nature of the cross hairs map is deeply troubling - especially after she originally panned Palin's map as an abuse of the 2nd Amendment. The woman who felt "put at risk" by a fictional character with similar name now thinks that there is no possible connection at all?
O'Reilly, another Palin defender, has just ended his eight year long war of words with the rapper Ludacris, according to the rapper. Before that, O'Reilly decried the deal the rapper struck with Pepsi to promote their products. Consider the interview with Pepsi PR exec, Bart Casabona:
O'REILLY: What I'm arguing is that you're legitimizing a man who is demeaning just about everybody, and is peddling antisocial behavior. You have no conscious qualms about that?
O'REILLY: So you don't really care about his morals or the message that he puts out?
Warning, this link takes you to the FN site... I'm posting it for the sake of verifying the above statements, not to direct anyone in that direction.
For every person defending Palin's use of violent and angry rhetoric, you're likely to find those same individuals uttering contradictory statements of outrage made during at time when they believed that words mattered. Now, Tim Pawlenty - The GOP equivalent of a less benign Ralph Furley, who was also once critical of the Palin map, weighs in on defending Palin against all criticism. As reported by the Huffingtonpost's Sam Stein, Pawlenty comments:
"There is also, I think, a double standard at play here because if you've had different kinds of experiences ... you went to say a certain more prominent school in a different part of the country, or you were the law review editor of some journal or something, then all of the sudden that is more valuable in the discussion than if you are in a place like Alaska or Minnesota because there's a little bit of a sense that maybe that's not quite up to our standards in some people's eyes. I don't buy that. I don't agree with that."
More cultural divisiveness? The "elites" vs. the "common person"? Ironically, the teapublican revolution has far more in common with Mao's Cultural Revolution than it does with Democracy as we know it - and for people who love "culture wars", it's no surprise. The attacks on intellectualism (intellectualism now defined as "elitism") and on Liberalism are torn almost directly from Mao's own words:
Liberalism is extremely harmful in a revolutionary collective. It is a corrosive which eats away unity, undermines cohesion, causes apathy and creates dissension. It robs the revolutionary ranks of compact organization and strict discipline, prevents policies from being carried through and alienates the Party organizations from the masses which the Party leads. It is an extremely bad tendency.
In short? You're either with us, or against us. The various themes of the tea party members (who are not members of a distinct party, but the extreme right wing of the republican party and should never be acknowledged as anything more, in my opinion) can be identified in Mao's 1937 writing cited and linked above, "Combat Liberalism".
The new "revolutionary collective" = teapublicans, who themselves believe they are bringing a conservative "revolution" to Washington and to the American people. Google the words "Tea Party Revolution" and you'll find the terms used in prominently featured right wing websites and published press. Is the revolutionary teapublican collective (RTC) that different from Mao's cultural revolution and his notion of the revolutionary collective (RC)? Three of the tenets of Liberalism, as viewed by Mao, are similar to those cited by teapublicans:
- Liberals want peace to the point of being cowardly appeasers who are working hard to make us all unsafe because the Liberal values peace above all else.
It is a Maoist and a teapublican sentiment that assumes that Liberals and Progressives are unconcerned about the lives of those we love and disconnected from the lives we live. The sentiment is meant to trigger fear and an obscene reliance on the collective. The revolutionary teapublican collective (RTC) offers no evidence for the statement, not in contemporary times nor in our shared history.
- Daring to have an opinion that differs from that of the revolutionary collective will ruin us all, as Maoists and those in the RTC appear to believe now. Liberal ideas that differ from the collective are dangerous. It's not clear what makes Liberal and Progressive ideas dangerous because the RTC has not offered proof or evidence.
"Liberal ideas", even when not necessarily offered by liberals, have brought peace, prosperity, security (like that "pesky" medicare that counts as its first recipients former President Truman - who first suggested the idea of National Health Insurance, and his wife, Bess; many teapublicans rely on it, want it, but don't understand how they have "Liberalism" to thank for having it. It turns out that Medicare wasn't a "communist" program that would undo Democracy, after all.)
- Liberals aren't honest in the critique of their own. It is suggested that the RTC is willing to critique its own, unless that person happens to be Reagan, Bush the younger, Cheney, Palin, Limbaugh, Beck, O'Reilly, and select few others on the right. Karl Rove found out the hard way when he dared criticize the candidacy of Christine O'Donnell. The man who has been long credited with some of the dirtiest political maneuvering in human history, on behalf of the old (now defunct?) republican party was labeled a RINO. While I experienced a satisfactory sense of symmetry in watching Rove being taken down by the machinery he helped in part create through building a political intolerance of difference, it was also disconcerting.
The RTC is not just intolerant of opposing thought outside the party, it appears to be intolerant of opposing thought INSIDE the party - which is a far more insidious behavior. Who is free to tell the right wing when it has become too violent ("Tea Party Protests: 'Ni**er,' 'Fa**ot' Shouted At Members Of Congress"), too angry (The NAACP can Kiss My Butt"), too aggressive ("No Equivalence: More Threats Against Democrats"), and/or too divisive ("Republicans signal a hard-line stance after election success")? No one. They are unfettered in their ability to create a divided America, to refuse to cooperate when they disagree with others.
Current right wing ideology appears to be rooted more in Maoist philosophy than it does in Democratic thought - especially when teapublican leaders espouse disbanding a major religion because that religion is 'too liberal'. Let's not forget Beck's admonishment of socialist "do-gooder" churches and O'Reilly's concerns that churches can give too much to people in need. Not even religious philosophical thought is protected from RCT non-philosophical thought.
There isn't enough time to deal with the teapublican desire to disband the U.S. Department of Education, or to remove all social programs other than defense -- and as is their new reality, keeping the government's hands off of Social Security.
Where will the party that was once the republican party now go? While some prominent republicans hope to restore their party to its former stature, it appears to be a daunting task. They are outsiders in a party they want to save, the inmates are running the asylum, and behavior/actions some decry as offensive, threatening, and dangerous when directed at them or against causes they support, are merely small social events without meaning when directed at others.
Today, of all days, is a day when we need to consider our shared humanity, our shared cultural identity, and acknowledge our shared political and humanitarian objectives. I would like to believe that despite the change in our political landscape that we will get back to who we were before the manufacturing of political outrage and the manufacturing of a "new political party" took place. We've always had our differences, but together, we still moved forward. I choose to believe that it's still possible, but in order to do that, we have to call out those who would drag us backward and back into a new 'dark ages' for the sake of political gain. It also requires those who are involved in any political movement to better understand the movements they've joined and to ask themselves whether that movement is healthy. It is important to ask if that movement does little more than to espouse ideas that feed the rage, but does little to provide solutions and uphold the values the party claims to support.
FTR, I did not coin the term "teapublicans". The first time I came across the word was in the comments section of the Huffingtonpost. It fits the newly evolved party that was once the republican party.