Well, it's been a year since Brady and I attended the original Richmond Tea Party. Setting aside some encounters at Audit the Fed demonstrations and what not, this was the first time in quite a while I interacted with the tea party movement that has garnered so much attention over the past year. Although I've seen a lot coverage of the tea parties in the media, I wanted to experience the movement without the mediation of reporters. They're not usually known for their nuance.
Besides, this was a movement that said a lot of things I agreed with. While genuine disagreement is perfectly understandable, a philosophy containing contradicting opinions - advocating less government spending while supporting the expanding military budget and the empire it finances - is a target of opportunity. While there seem to be few tea partiers who care their ideology might be intellectually unsound, some can provide a reasoned argument. Those people often become thought leaders; they are the ones I'm looking for.
You know, when FOX reports that a majority of Americans oppose Obama's health care reform, liberals complain that the numbers are being manipulated. FOX is lying.
When FOX reports on the Tea Party protests, liberals complain that they are manufacturing a movement. FOX is lying.
But when FOX shows footage of these protesters as stupid, inarticulate, crude, violent, white trash rednecks, suddenly FOX news is totally credible.
Which anti-American, anti-war magazine published an article that frames Obama's foreign policy decisions in the following "blame America" terms?
The sad truth is everything we are seeing we have already seen. Despite presidents who come and go, permanent war is a hallowed American institution. Start if you will with the War of 1812, the invasion of Mexico, and the carnage of a Civil War. Move to the mass murder of Native Americans and theft of their property, the killing, torture, and prison camps in the Philippines, then the blood-drenched 20th century. The 21st likewise dawns red. It never changes. Doves protest, hawks rule, ordinary people pay the penalty. All wars are "just."
Hint: it's also the same magazine Time called "the most anti-Bush magazine of the [past] decade."
Here's the answer. The biggest element missing from the anti-war movement is the anti-war part. Instead, you get a coalition of exotic interest groups around culture war and identity politics. Wake up - that's a language neocons speak easily (as long as the criticism can be focused beyond our borders; see the women's rights arguments for the Iraq invasion).
But as the article goes on to explain, there's a rich history of antiwar conservatism (see Bill Kauffman on this topic) rooted in American traditions and sensibilities. And it took a monumental upset in the conservative movement to override the prejudices and side projects of the modern, liberal, supposedly anti-war characters in this country. Shameful.