The "culture war" and the debate on immigration played out on stage at WWE's Monday Night Raw tonight as Tea Party-inspired villains Jack Swagger and Zeb Coulter played up anti-immigrant fears, Mexican hero Alberto Del Rio defended the immigrant heritage in America, and Glenn Beck was called out as a chicken for refusing to show up (see video, Bleacher Report, Cage Side Seat).
Recall that Glenn Beck and Alex Jones' Infowars recently accused WWE of "demonizing" the Tea Party with its "racist" characterization of "Real Americans" Swagger and Coulter. The "Real Americans" then shot back at Beck, challenging him to appear with them on WWE's Monday Night Raw to speak his piece, which Beck declined. Tea Party website Liberty News took offense also and said "WWE fans should speak up about this outrage." Recall also that Swagger is due to face Del Rio at this year's Wrestlemania.
Shortly before the beginning of tonight's show, Zeb Coulter tweeted: "T minus 4 minutes to #WWE #RAW mustache groomed and quivering with anticipation like a bride on her wedding night ready to drop more truth." This follows Coulter's real-life fictional adventure on the US/Mexico border with the Patriot Patrol, beer, and nudie magazines.
As expected, Swagger and Coulter appeared in full character as Tea Party villains. Coulter first derided Beck for chickening out of his appearance on the show, then launched into a full-on Tea Party rant against undocumented immigrants, insisting on his right to call them "illegals," accusing them of taking jobs from "real Americans," denouncing immigration reform as "amnesty," and calling undocumented immigrants "criminals." Someone in the crowd held up a sign reading: "I took Zeb's job." This won't go over well with teabaggers, who will again accuse WWE of "demonizing" them.
Del Rio responded as the true patriot in the room, telling Coulter that America doesn't belong to him but to everyone. Del Rio reminded Coulter that he and Swagger are the also the descendants of immigrants, called them "bullies" who "hide behind the Constitution," and described America as a land of opportunity for people from all over the world. Before departing, Del Rio challenged Swagger to settle their differences on the spot, but Swagger cowered and told Del Rio that they would see him again at Wrestlemania (see video). The entire exchange played out like an old-fashioned melodrama. Just to hammer the point home, WWE then showed a recent video rant from Swagger and Coulter featuring the iconic Gadsden flag ("Don't Tread on Me"), which has become an emblem of the Tea Party. Here is video of the exchange between Del Rio, Coulter, and Swagger:
Simplistic, certainly, but it will be seen as a direct assault on the Tea Party and right-wing notions of what constitutes a "Real American." Swagger and Coulter presented an image of teabaggers as intolerant bigots, and Del Rio voiced the liberal vision of America as a country that belongs to everyone.
After his appearance Coulter took to Twitter, still in full-teabag mode, denouncing liberal reactions to his rant as "Lies all lies, according to my copy of The Picture History Of The US." Coulter continued: "My mustache is amazing isn't it? All #RealAmericans should grow one like it, womenfolk included.... Watching replay of me and @RealJackSwagger damn I look great, my mustache is so masculine so virile!"
Now I await the reaction from Beck and the teabaggers. Then I can go back to my usual habit of NOT watching rasslin' and observing right-wing meltdowns elsewhere (such as in response to Michelle Obama's appearance at the Oscars). Small and un-serious though they may be, such episodes illustrate the Right's increasing isolation from the mainstream of American life. They're also a lot of fun to watch.