Tea Party ‘Extremists’ Take Center Stage

-By Warner Todd Huston

The liberal media’s newest meme is to claim that the tea party movement is made up exclusively of John Birchers, militia types, racists, and “birthers.” Politico, for instance, had an extensive story about how legitimate conservatives are coming to realize that they’ll have to conduct a Buckley styled purge of the extremists if they expect the tea party groups to be taken seriously. Of course, the left has had its extremists for decades, unlike the right has never conducted any such purges, and has also benefited from a news media that has never highlighted the left’s worst nuts.

The whole idea that conservatives have to purge their wackier, more fringe members is something that at one level is obvious but at another is proof that the left and the Old Media are nothing but hypocrites. At still a third level there is part of the attitude exhibited by some of these far right elements that is a root motivation of the tea party movement, fringe or no.

As clownish left-wing commentators such as Keith Olbermann, Rachel Maddow, John Stewart or Stephen Colbert point fingers and guffaw at the fringes of the right and as the New York Times and Politico stroke their chins and look down their noses at the unruly tea party movement, it must be noted that none of these folks ever uttered a cross word against the Code Pink wackos, the communist infiltrators, anti-war hippies, Stalinist apologists, pro-abortion extremists, Euro-trash half-wits, eco-terrorists, and outright anarchists that have filled the left’s ranks since the birth of the new left after WWII.

At every lefty protest representatives of these hatemongering groups abound. They can be found on the campus of every American college and university, as well. But are these dangerous extremists ever discussed in our Old Media outlets when they highlight lefty movements? Never. The left’s extremists are simply never mentioned. It is as if every left-wing group in America is filled with conscientious old grandmothers and idealistic young folks innocently avowing their rights as citizens of the world. Never are the violence prone, the hateful nutcases, or the drugged out losers that fills the American left ever highlighted.

But watch out. Should one guy with a misspelled sign, a few goofy guys dressed as founding fathers, or one guy with a gun show up at a tea party and even conservatives start quaking in fear the their movement can’t be taken seriously.

Still, there are some serious questions that must be asked about what the tea party movement means, who should be “allowed” into it, and how its affairs should be conducted. William F. Buckley, Jr. well understood this when he conducted in the early 1960s the purge from his new conservative movement of members of the John Birch Society.

Even as House Minority Leader John Boehner of Ohio tells the media that he thinks the tea partiers are “great patriots,” some media types like Michael Gerson are warning that the tea party movement is in danger of being defined by its “worst elements.” Consequently many conservatives are looking to Buckley’s example in order to distance the tea party movement from militia types and the so-called “birthers” that have set upon Obama’s birth certificate as its cause célèbre.

This is not to say that the tea party movement should simply stand by as weirdos take over their movement. Certainly conservatives are right to try and oust today’s John Birchers. But let’s be honest about one aspect of “extreme” sentiment that lies at the basis of the tea party movement: its essential anti-government sentiment.

The key difference between the left and right is that the left sees government as the answer to its dreams while the right sees government as the problem, not the solution. Leftists are fascists at heart and they want to use the iron boot heel of government to drive their policy goals. So, when the left protests it protests that government isn’t big enough that it isn’t being used enough.

The tea party movement is different. It is at heart driven by a quintessentially American sentiment. That sentiment is a distrust, verging on hatred of government. We all know that the United States was born of revolution. Our founders violently deposed their rightful government and supplanted it with one of their own making. Government employees were murdered, attacked, beaten, tarred and feathered, threatened… in short British officials were violently deposed by our founders. There was a lot of internecine warfare that went on between patriots and loyalists during the 8 years of rebellion here. It was pretty vicious, indeed.

Now this violence didn’t occur everywhere, mind you. In some instances British rule simply melted away supplanted by a home-rule filling the vacuum. But there is no doubt that the 1/3 of the colonists that rose up against the British were the extremists of their day. Today they would surely be considered terrorists.

This is what the tea party movement is based on. There is no escaping the fact that at some basic level every tea party participant is carefully weighing in his mind whether or when it will be appropriate to begin to take up arms against the current out-of-control U.S. government. This is an uncomfortable thing to discuss but it is true nonetheless.

It seems startling to consider this point, admittedly. In the heart of each tea party activist is the seminal question of whether or not our current government is a legitimately constituted authority or if it has gone so far astray that armed rebellion would be warranted. After all, our nation was founded on such a question. It is only natural that the movement most directly descended from that founding question would again entertain its consideration.

Further, one of our earliest Amendments is predicated on this central question. One of the reasons we even have a Second Amendment is so that our government will sufficiently fear its armed citizenry a fear that is supposed to force that government to stay on the straight and narrow. It is no mere bombast when conservatives cite the revolutionary sentiment of founder Thomas Jefferson who said, “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is it’s natural manure.” (Letter to William Stephens Smith, Nov. 13, 1787)

That wasn’t the only time Jefferson said something like this, either. In a letter to James Madison, also in 1787, Jefferson reiterated this idea.

I hold it, that a little rebellion, now and the, is a good thing, and as necessary in the political world as storms in the physical. Unsuccessful rebellions, indeed, generally establish the encroachments on the rights of the people, which have produced them. An observation of this truth should render honest republican governors so mild in their punishment of rebellions, as not to discourage them too much. It is a medicine necessary for the sound health of government.

Jefferson wasn’t the only one. Madison also echoed the principle of revolution. In his answer to “Pacificus” from April 22, 1793, Madison wrote the following:

… If there be a principle that ought not to be questioned within the United States, it is that every nation has a right to abolish an old government and establish a new one. This principle is not only recorded in every public archive, written in every American heart, and sealed with the blood of a host of American martyrs, but is the only lawful tenure by which the United States hold their existence as a nation.

Most of the other founders had such quotes to their credit, as well. Like I said, this sentiment lies at the heart of our nation and the tea party movement alike.

But what does all this history mean to us today? It means no less than there is always the thought underneath all the discussions of today’s political climate that we have the right to forcibly throw off this government. Like I said, it is uncomfortable to think about but it is true nonetheless.

Naturally, the extremists on the left, your court jesters such as Stewart, Olbermann and Maddow, will point to my piece as “proof” that we are all crazy, anti-American, bomb-throwers. They will screech that we are gun nuts that simply want to start killing everyone that does not agree with us. Fact is, the Olbermanns and Maddows of the 1700s said the same thing about our founders.

It must be pointed out that a resort to revolution is not what conservatives would rather have happen. Far from it. A peaceful return to American principles and away from the socialist, European ideals is our druthers, certainly. But it would be dishonest to carry on as if it wasn’t implicit in our core philosophy.

And our government would be best served to remember it, too.
“The only end of writing is to enable the reader better to enjoy life, or better to endure it.”
–Samuel Johnson

Warner Todd Huston is a Chicago based freelance writer, has been writing opinion editorials and social criticism since early 2001 and is featured on many websites such as Andrew Breitbart’s BigGovernment.com, RightWingNews.com, CanadaFreePress.com, StoptheACLU.com, TheRealityCheck.org, RedState.com, Human Events Magazine, AmericanDailyReview.com, and the New Media Journal, among many, many others. Additionally, he has been a frequent guest on talk-radio programs to discuss his opinion editorials and current events and is currently the co-host of “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Conservatism” heard on BlogTalkRadio. Warner is also the editor of the Cook County Page for RedCounty.com.

He has also written for several history magazines and appears in the new book “Americans on Politics, Policy and Pop Culture” which can be purchased on amazon.com. He is also the owner and operator of PubliusForum.com. Feel free to contact him with any comments or questions : EMAIL Warner Todd Huston

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