BY KENNY BELFORD
During the summer we saw Republican leaders and special interests combine to create the tea bag movement. It was projected as a grassroots movement, but it was actually orchestrated at the highest levels of the Republican Party.
They tapped into a segment of the population that was uninformed, and they filled their brains with slogans and contrived issues to be upset about.
The result was chaos at many Town Hall meetings. Heated, spirited debate departed and was replaced with disruptive yelling. Organizers of the tea bag movement even wrote and issued instructions suggesting how attendees could disrupt and block all real discussions.
The radio and television hatemongers jumped on the bandwagon and fueled the fire. Fox News became a cheerleader for the movement, even organizing some events. Soon individuals were actually showing up armed with loaded weapons, and angry, very angry.
Protesters frequently cited government spending as a big issue. The fact that they were totally silent during the past eight years on this subject speaks volumes. During those years a Republican president turned a budget surplus into the largest debt we’d ever witnessed. But after the Republican strategists told the tea baggers this was an issue, it suddenly created a rage among them.
Another reoccurring message at tea party events seems to be, “I want my country back.” I know what that means. So do you. It means the ugly face of racism actually never left us, and has now surfaced out in the open again. That’s the only explanation for the 400% increase in presidential death threats reported by the Secret Service, over the past president.
Republican strategists are aware of this, but they want control back so much they continue to stir the pot, fan the flames and their allies in the media willingly assist them.
Last week we saw a change in this movement. It was unexpected, certainly unanticipated by the organizing Republican leaders, and we need to pay attention. In South Carolina, at a Town Hall meeting Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham found himself in a gymnasium filled with tea baggers. He was yelled at, booed, called a traitor and a host of other demeaning names. The tea baggers even yelled out that George W. Bush is a war criminal.
So what was Graham’s offense that set off this reaction? He wasn’t far enough to the right for this crowd. Factions of this group are now showering their abuse and rants even at Republicans, perceived to not be as radical and rabid as themselves.
The tea baggers are irrationally angry on a host of topics, stunningly ignorant, believing their own government is the enemy, absolutely convinced the government is attempting to gain total control of their lives and not listening to them and their views, and they see no value in listening to any voice of reason. They’re armed. That’s an exceptionally dangerous combination.
Yet that’s what the Republican strategists have created. It was this identical mindset that put extreme right wing radicals Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols into action on April 19, 1995. Both were angry with the government, believing it was out of control and needed to be taught a lesson.
Today we have angry uninformed individuals that are being egged on by the Republican leadership, and told on a daily basis by the radio and television hatemongers how right they are. How long will it be until the most loony of their pack decides it’s time to take matters into their own hands?
We’re actually witnessing the Republican Party recruit, indoctrinate and inflame a segment of America that may well lead to acts of domestic terrorism.
Sound far fetched? Considering the contributing factors of the Murrah Building bombing I’m not so sure about that. Nothing is on the horizon to tone it down, to scale it back to a civil level. I’m not convinced it can be.
In the months ahead, if we are unfortunate enough to actually experience a monstrous act by this group, it will be a direct result of the actions taken by individuals that should have known better. The Republican leadership, and their media allies may have unleashed a now uncontrollable movement, yet they continue their alliance with them. The blame will extend past the individuals committing the act, and extend to include those that created them, encouraged them, inflamed them, and spread divisiveness across our country. This is one of the greatest acts of anti-Americanism I’ve ever witnessed, and it’s challenging to project any good conclusion to it.
– Kenny Belford lives in Tulsa, OK and is a regular contributor to The Oklahoma Observer