It’s My Tea Party and I’ll Cry if I Want To
Before MSNBC’s Keith Olberman started razzing him, I had never heard of Fox personality Glenn Beck. Then, on another blog I caught one of his videos:
Some may say Glenn is patriotic to the point of weeping. Some may say he is unhinged. I tend to think he is a master showman in the tradition of Morton Downey Jr. and Jim Cramer. The man you watch because you’re not quite sure what he will do next. However, Beck is exploiting a mood in this country held by a small but vocal minority that if unchecked and encouraged could prove more troublesome than mere entertainment. As we dig deeper into Glenn’s rhetoric and that of his 9-12 Project we see themes that, in my opinion, depart from reality. The question is how many people in history have followed the lead of a madman to very destructive ends?
Let’s start with this whole notion of the Tea Party (to which Beck devotes an entire page on his web site). Sorry folks but Barack Obama is not King George III. I find it particularly disturbing that there is a growing theme in this country that government, particularly the head of state, is the enemy. We do not have taxation without representation. On the contrary, Barack Obama and the Democratic majority were ELECTED by Americans who wanted what is now being delivered. There are precious few surprises in the direction this country is taking. Obama has not done a 180 from his campaign promises. If any fault can be found it might be that Obama has not been as moderate as some might have hoped and has let the Democratic congress go too far left. But it is hardly a 180. Americans are getting what they sent their representatives to do. These are not the dictates of a monarch.
The 9-12 Project is a pun of sorts, suggesting that we all must return to the way we were the day after we were attacked by Al Quada, one nation against a common enemy, and that there are nine principles and 12 values that should guide us. The 12 values don’t particularly bother me. They are:
- Reverence [toward what? This one I'm not so sure about.]
- Hard Work
- Personal Responsibility
With the exception of reverence, I can’t argue with these as decent values for all Americans to share. It’s when we get to the 9 principles that things get a bit sticky (italic statements are mine):
|1.||America Is Good.
Ehhhh, no America is not always good.
|2.||I believe in God and He is the Center of my Life.|
|Glen follows this up with a quote from George Washington implying that our country is founded on a belief in God. Hogwash. Despite protests to the contrary, this is a secular country with the occasional bow to religion in the form of, for example, our currency (“In God We Trust”).|
|3.||I must always try to be a more honest person than I was yesterday.|
|Fine no problem there.|
|4.||The family is sacred. My spouse and I are the ultimate authority, not the government.|
|What I fear is a tacit call for insurrection.|
|5.||If you break the law you pay the penalty. Justice is blind and no one is above it.|
|Nice idea, no argument there.|
|6.||I have a right to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness, but there is no guarantee of equal results.|
|A veiled excuse to keep the poor poor and the rich rich.|
|7.||I work hard for what I have and I will share it with who I want to. Government cannot force me to be charitable.|
|Another call to keep the poor in poverty.|
|8.||It is not un-American for me to disagree with authority or to share my personal opinion.|
|This is true so long as the disagreement does not take the form of insurrection or treason.
|9.||The government works for me. I do not answer to them, they answer to me.|
|This is not new news but this concept in the wrong hands can spell real danger for our country.|
There is an undercurrent in much of this rhetoric that our government is in need of such massive change that we the people must wrest control back from it. The 9-12 crowd seldom gets right down to advocating overthrow (violent or otherwise) but the mood is still there and it’s troubling.
Within the past two weeks I stumbled upon two communications that clarified for me how off the hook some of this nouveau patriotism has gone. The first was a blog so disturbing that I will not link to it here. The blogger is a man down on his luck, terminally ill, jobless and soon to be homeless. He has decided that what ails America is money (our financial system) and government (our set of rules). His solution is anarchy. His method, so he says, is violent protest. He makes it clear that he is willing to be a martyr and he has called on his readers to join him in a rampage that is only alluded to (an explicit call to violence might get him arrested, I would gather). It would be fine to write this fellow off as a disturbed individual but he is the extreme that arises from this 9-12 Project–re-invent-America-in-your-own-image movement.
The other communication came in the form of an e-mail from a reader named “Bones”, no doubt probably intended more for my conservative writing partner The Rigorist, than for me. The e-mail had nothing but a link. A link to the 9-12 Project Petition. Here’s an excerpt:
We the People, in seeking Redress of Grievances, as is our right under Amendment I of the United States Constitution, ask this question of each branch of Federal Government:
“Where in the Constitution do you find authorization for each and all of the following?”
1. The redistribution of property by force and subterfuge; and the unequal application of tax laws amounting to punitive action against certain groups of American People and providing favored status to other groups
2. A paper money system that is morally and economically equivalent to counterfeiting
3. Willful and purposeful devaluation and destruction of American currency
4. Deploying military to fight undeclared wars
5. Targeting and labeling law-abiding American citizens as domestic terrorists
6. Declarations that disagreeing with policy is unpatriotic or disloyal to our country
7. Intrusions into the privacy of law-abiding American citizens
8. Perpetual massive indebtedness to foreign countries
9. Infringement upon the rights of the People to keep and bear arms through oppressive regulation and taxation designed for the very purpose of infringement
10. Passing laws and taxes without deliberation and without reading the legislation; said action is tantamount to the American People not having any representation
11. Enacting ex post facto laws and Bills of Attainder
12. Granting Constitutional rights and privileges to illegal aliens and prisoners of war
13. Funding mercenary organizations that engage in voter fraud and paid harassment of law abiding American citizens
14. Maintaining and deploying armies in peace time on United States soil
15. Unprecedented and arbitrary federal power, through the United States Treasury, for government intervention into, control of, and confiscation of, private property, private industry including but not limited to banking, insurance, manufacturing, farming and other sectors of the private economy (current and proposed)
16. Requiring involuntary servitude or governmental service other than a draft during a declared war, or pursuant to, or as an alternative to, incarceration after due process of law (proposed)
17. Requiring involuntary servitude or governmental service of persons under the age of 18 other than pursuant to, or as an alternative to, incarceration after due process of law (proposed)
18. Acts regarding religion; further limitations on freedom of political speech; or further limitations on freedom of the press (proposed)
The list is to a small extent bipartisan. Items 4 and 7 started on Bush’s watch. That is beside the point. What is troubling is the perpetuation of myths such as item 9 which spews the ridiculous notion that Obama wants to take your guns away. However it is the tone, more than the specifics that trouble me. It’s like a bunch of people went on vacation to Colonial Williamsburg but came back unaware that they are back in the 21st century. It’s like these folks are in some sort of time warp where Obama is King George III and a new revolution is necessary and imminent. It is truly like we are feeding and nurturing a growing and vocal minority of madmen.
Economic distress is one of the leading causes of broken marriages and it is also a leading cause of broken countries. History shows that a country demoralized by economic woes can turn in very dangerous directions. The tearful calls of Glenn Beck and people like him to join Tea Parties and protest our oppressive government might have played well a few years ago when our vulnerability was not so great. I fear now that this rhetoric borders on treason and if left unchecked may inspire consequences far worse than failed banks, high unemployment and national debt.