Let’s say America has a Democratic president who, inexplicably, is viewed as much different from his predecessor. His policies
Of course, I’m talking about Bill Clinton, the rise of right wing militias, and the bombing of a federal building in Oklahoma City almost exactly 15 years ago. In the words of the immortal political philosopher, Jon Bon Jovi: “It’s all the same. Only the names have changed.”
Just as in 1995, the right wing movement (sic) inevitably lures in many who will use it as platform to express their simmering hatred for blacks, gays, immigrants, women, and most non-Christians.
Just as in 1995, we have things in common with the right wing protestors, starting with the fear, anger, isolation, frustration, and marginalization that results from living within a culture based on material consumption by any means necessary. As long as our culture—our system—is allowed to stay unchanged… we will be dealing with false conflicts between potential allies. The victims will stay divided while the top 5% remain above the fray
Yes, many of the Tea Partiers are victims of predatory capitalism just as we are and could even be comrades if they weren’t so woefully and dangerously uninformed.
They talk about taxes but don’t mention the military budget (where 53% of our tax dollars go to die). They complain about “the nanny state,” but ignore corporate welfare. They perceive a Wall Street-funded politician like Mr. Yes-We-Can as a “socialist” and blame everything on “the government” while disregarding corporate power (in this equation, the government is clearly the lesser of two horrendous evils).
The Tea Partiers exist because corporate media propaganda has convinced them equality, justice, and tolerance is a threat to their alleged freedoms. Just as bad: it’s also convinced them George W. Obama represents this threatening form of equality, justice, and tolerance. They were tricked… but make no mistake about it, so was the Left.
A radical response to this so-called movement requires balance. We have to challenge right wing hatred and intolerance at every turn, of course, but do so without defending President Obama who is little more than Ronald Reagan in blackface.
A first step could be to fully appreciate the urgency. Even though I’ve explained that this dynamic isn’t new, it’s still not exactly same as 1995. The societal downward spiral is much worse now and that could mean the backlash will also be much worse. You can get started appreciating this urgency by simply rediscovering the subversive pleasure of thinking for yourself.
Reactivate your natural, instinctual bullshit detector so when someone tells you we live in a big melting pot, the land of the free/home of the brave, you’ll say bullshit. When they rant about immigrants taking our jobs and not paying taxes, you can say bullshit. They tell you marriage can only be between man and woman? You say bullshit. It’s acceptable that women are paid 77 cents for every dollar a man makes? Bullshit. They’re okay with racial profiling and the racist war on drugs and racist death penalty. We can all say bullshit. They wish to condone the use of words like bitch, faggot, and nigger, and feel free to use “illegal” as a noun? You scream: bullshit.
This system cannot be reformed. It must be dismantled and there’s no time like now. This is our moment so let’s make it count.
Of course, we must stand up to Tea Party ignorance and bigotry but creating solidarity with their “targets” (the poor, the immigrants, all those oppressed due to sexual preference, gender, or ethnicity, etc.) is far more important. It’s not easy to free our minds from propaganda, stand up to those seeking scapegoats, and fight for the future. But I guarantee you this: it’s worth it. This is our chance to create both community and a legacy.
Howard Zinn once said: “To live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory.”
As you seek out your own marvelous victories remember to trust your bullshit detector so no matter what you hear coming out of Washington, you’ll know the truth remains:
Action is always better than hope.