May We Legitimately Compare the Tea Party to the Taliban?

Here's what happened.  Someone wrote a letter to the editor of our local daily comparing the tea party to the Taliban.  A tea party member (possibly) or sympathizer (obviously) respondeded by saying:

"Robert J. Joubert's eloquent  comparison of the tea party and the Taliban shows how ridiculous an argument some will put forward to demonize this group.[1]  My experience is they are a group of Americans who want to get back to the principles this country was founded on, like financial responsibility.  There is a huge difference in a country founded on Christian principles like love, charity and respect and a religious state run by people who want to kill innocent people who don't believe the same, as you suggest.[2] 

"Then the issue of women, most tea party people stand up for the rights of the unborn and traditional families, which is far from the oppressive actions of the Muslim extremists you compare them to.  So if you see standing up for your pinciples as being obstructive, so be it.[3]  I see it as being patriotic rather than going along with a ridiculous, progressive point of view.[4]" /S/ Steve Childers.

Here is my take, issue by issue.

1. Note the cavalier flattery preceding the word "ridiculous" indicating deceitful obsequiousness, spoon-feeding the reader with syrup before excoriating the opinion under consideration. How can anything be "eloquent" and "ridiculous" at the same time?  2. Early on, we see how Childers, the letter writer proves Mr. Joubert's point: even if "financial responsibility" was a "principle this country was founded on," the nation most definitely was not "founded on Christian principles," as anyone familiar with Adams, Madison, Jefferson, and others can attest.  Mr. Childers apparently gets his "facts" from tea party historian David Barton, who has been thoroughly disgraced and by the publisher of his own book about Jeffersonian Christianity.  In fact, the First Amendment proscribes union of church and state so that its president, bicameral legislature, and judicial branch cannot run the country by Christian, Jewish, Muslim, or any other religious principles.

Love, charity and respect are not Christian principles at all but moral imperatives of sentient social animals, things we have in our DNA.  (I'll wager Mr. Childers knows very little about DNA and biological hard-wiring for social interaction incorporating the "principles" he cites as "Christian.")  One sees very little love and charity in the platform of the tea party, generally speaking a misogynistic, racist, homophobic lot.  They support legislation, including the Ryan budget, that would gut social programs or privatize them so that the Koch Cabal (my term for the 1%) can practice a type of laissez-faire capitalism that renders the poor and working class serfs, setting progress in equality back to pre-20th century Russia or England up to the Industrial Revolution, France before the storming of the Bastille, and Mexico even today to some extent.

That tea partiers are misogynistic is seen in their views on birth control and abortion.  The most draconian state laws only recently enacted to limit the latter procedure to less than two full trimesters in contravention of Roe v. Wade is reflected in fundamentalist biblical treatment of the female sex as "help-mates" to men, in effect Stepford wives with religious dogma instead of a pill taken to keep them pregnant and in the kitchen.  Tea partiers would have pregnant women giving birth to unwanted babies, then setting them adrift in a society with no social or economic support, "pro-life" only protecting the unborn, not the offspring of unwilling parents often ill-prepared to raise children, their poverty leading to crime and punishment: Mr. Childers should check out the racial makeup of our prisons. 

In a democracy it would be a crime to force women to carry to term incest babies, babies with gross deformities, and babies whose births would take the life of the mother.  Make no mistake, tea party women are the willing genderslaves of the kind of masters envisioned by the dystopian SciFi novel, The Handmaid's Tale. What's next, depriving the female sex of any enjoyment they might have during coitus by forcing them to undergo labial circumcision?  Familiarity breeds contempt, and groups who despise the religious laws of other groups often do so because their own religious laws are so despotic.  If the tea party pushes for laws to ban imposition of Sharia law, perhaps it's because they prefer laws based on Christian dogma.  The Devil is the God of people one personally dislikes.

What group of voters pushes for vouchers designed to fund private education for those who can afford it, depriving public schools of much needed funding so that the poor remain relatively ignorant and therefore unable to rise up through the middle class, which is, itself, slowly disappearing from the American scene?  Who pushes for phony fraud-prohibiting election plans favoring wealthy precincts working disenfranchisement of anyone but angry white people?  Tea partiers despise, rather than love, the minorities, both racial and sexual; they show no charity toward them, thwarting even raising the minimum wage to a point of escape from poverty level, and they disrespect them constantly by permitting stop and frisk, stand your ground, and unchecked ownership of weapons of war, including semi-automatics.  What a phony hypocrite Mr. Childers is.

3. Phil Russo, a Florida radio host and campaign consultant, early member of the movement, calls the tea party the "religious right in tri-cornered hats." He maintains that the party was, early on, hijacked by the Cabal, which I could have told him when I found out that former Rep. Dick Armey headed up one of its PAC's.  Russo argues that the tea party supports the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and has "deteriorated to racist name calling, fear of anyone with brown skin, and an irrational focus on Sharia law," says Huffpost.  4. "Ridiculous, progressive" speaks for itself. Other web sites that have labeled the tea party a religious right movement either as it was intended or has become include ABC News ("More than 7 in 10, or about 70 percent, of Americans who are part of the Tea Party movement are white Christians, compared with 53 percent of the general public") and NPR ("[A tea party rally-goer described their push for] a 'civil religion'...the idea that America was a divine experiment, that the Founding Fathers were Christian men who created a nation on biblical principles").

Seems to me it is not only fair to compare the tea party to the Taliban, it is a logical conclusion based upon an abundance of evidence.  The two have one horrifying goal in mind: theocracy.  That political "ism" is antithetical to democracy.  Mr. Joubert wins the argument hands down.

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Are they comparable to the Taliban? In many ways, yes. Come to think of it, with the exception of executing infidels, libertine women, and political opponents in public, I can't think of a whole lot of difference. The Taliban is responsible for preventing vaccinations for polio in Pakistan and Afghanistan, and the US version touts the lie that vaccinations cause autism. The Taliban attack hospitals and the Teabaggers attack women's health clinics. The Taliban want Sharia law to replace secular law, and the US version wants Christian theocracy to replace our secular government. The Taliban teach ignorant, bigoted, anti-scientific superstition in their madrasas, and the bigots in tri-cornered hats want to institute creationism, misogyny, and xenophobia in American schools And, both group love their freaking guns, and can't be bothered when school children are murdered.

Now, while their popularity is slipping, I wouldn't write them off just yet. In light of Citizens United, the 1% can easily buy elections in this country. It's no longer what the people desire, it's how much $$$ you can pump into the ballot box. And the Koch brothers and their ilk are still licking their fanged overbite lips.

As usual, Pat, an excellent analysis.  You add many things I forgot or did not know.

Oh, go ahead, Sentient, and let TP stand for toilet paper.  I wish the political organization, if we can call it that, were as disposable, and yes, I sure would like to wipe my ass with them!

It's not so simple. There is no unified Tea party position, though some of the loudest elements can be pretty offensive. But there are a lot of people riding that train, putting up with some of the whackaloons, because they have become disgusted with the RNC. Unlike the Taliban, they have no overriding philosophical agenda, if the TP actually becomes dominant they will quickly splinter.

The TP has done one good thing, however, they have broken the control of the party machinery (now we desperately need someone to do that on the Democrat side) . For far too long the D & R machines tossled back and forth, but name calling aside they are both anti-freedom, massively intrusive, military oriented, imperialistic machines with obsessions of global power.

The only thing that can really save this country is if more people take the cue from the TP and refuse their party's propaganda.

I might add that the Taliban get much of their power from the deep tribal/family allegiances that go back centuries, and involve depths of obligation that are simply not part of our world (not even our religious wacko world).

James, i think the comparison is apt.  it's not perfect, as (so far) the tea party has been non-violent.  however, their elected lawmakers could easily be called domestic terrorists.  and let's not forget, most tea partiers are well armed, often evoking dangerous language about violence.  the don't tread on me flags scare me.  i live in the Philadelphia suburbs and there are 2 on my block.  and when i read the comments sections on right wing blogs i'm downright terrified.  

what confirms the comparison for me is the need for rigid, ideological purity.  it's a regressive way of thinking that clings to the past at all costs.  it doesn't update with the changing world.  

here's a perfect example for you - i got an email forward that compared the amount of taxes people paid in the 1800's compared to today.  and yes, we're taxed much more now than we were then.  of course, we didn't have a national highway system, air traffic to control, millions of restaurants to inspect, nuclear weapons to maintain, i gigantic military machine, etc etc etc.  yet somehow this stuff doesn't enter their mind.  if we could get by without an income tax 200 years ago we can do it today!

most tea partiers are completely lacking empathy, and can't fathom nuance.  they're largely simpletons with some vague idea of an America that used to be and isn't anymore.  they're mostly older and whiter in a country that is getting younger and browner.  and they're scared.  they find themselves increasingly lonely at church.  black people are getting elected to the Presidency.  possibly a woman next??  my god, what if she gets premenstrual??  (nevermind that she's post menapausal).  

so yes, the tea party should be compared to the Taliban.  as the Republican Party toes the line of the Tea Party, my hope is that the American people reject their worldview en masse.  maybe then we can get back to normal dysfunctional politics.  

At the root of the Tea Party's reactionary and irrational belief "system" is a very simple-minded evangelical Christianity, aided and abetted by a sixth grade understanding of history constantly revised by "historians" with sketchy "credentials" from Christian diploma mills.  Of course, they don't really have a system; policy statements consist mostly of bizarre, nonsensical sound bytes or Palinesque word salads--very similar to their religious beliefs.  Though the right wing frequently cites God and snatches of the Bible, they are utterly amoral, claiming to be pro-life, though they are against birth control and food stamps.  They rail against welfare recipients, while they themselves rake in millions in farm subsidies and describe themselves as "self-made."

I'm going to stop now; the whole situation makes me sick.

I think it was Sinclair Lewis--though it may have been Upton Sinclair, but I'm too lazy to look it up--who said that "when Fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross."  I'm pretty sure it was Teddy Roosevelt who said that freedom from government would mean enslavement to corporations.  Ouch!

No, you have the Sinclairs mixed up, but it's something I did, too.  You are thinking of Sinclair Lewis, author of Elmer Gantry, who made the comment about "wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross."  Upton was a socialist, but in word only.  He ran for governor of California but lost. He wrote Oil!, on which the Paul Thomas Anderson movie, There Will Be Blood, is based. Lewis was the better writer (Main Street; Babbitt), and Upton was mainly a muckraker and novelist manque'. Your line, "I'm going to stop now...makes me sick" is redolent of the lesbian woman picked up by the Jack Nicholson character in Five Easy Pieces: after dissing everything and everybody in a rant that lasts about five minutes, she finally stops and says, "I don't want to talk about it!" :-)))

Thanks for the correction.  And thanks, everyone else, for the other corrections ;-).  I was in a mood last night!  Sometimes I do get to a point where simply thinking about the state of American democracy does indeed make me sick.  It seems odd that so many Americans do not want democracy at all, but instead want to control or ban any type of behavior they--or their pastors--don't like while they defend the behavior of organizations that cause actual harm--not just emotional discomfort--to our economy, our environment, our diplomatic standing, our educational system, etc.

That woman was a lesbian? ;-)

I got that impression because she seemed masculine to me and was traveling with a younger woman.  I might be wrong.

"when Fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross."

It was Samuel Johnson



  • When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross.
    • Many variants of this exist, but the earliest known incident of such a comment appears to be a partial quote from James Waterman Wise, Jr., reported in a 1936 issue of The Christian Century that in a recent address here before the liberal John Reed club said that Hearst and Coughlin are the two chief exponents of fascism in America. If fascism comes, he added, it will not be identified with any "shirt" movement, nor with an "insignia," but it will probably be "wrapped up in the American flag and heralded as a plea for liberty and preservation of the constitution."[1]
    • Another early quote is that of Halford E. Luccock, in Keeping Life Out of Confusion (1938): When and if fascism comes to America it will not be labeled "made in Germany"; it will not be marked with a swastika; it will not even be called fascism; it will be called, of course, "Americanism." Harrison Evans Salisbury in 1971 remarked about Lewis: "Sinclair Lewis aptly predicted in It Can't Happen Here that if fascism came to America it would come wrapped in the flag and whistling 'The Star Spangled Banner.'" [2]
  1. The Christian Century, Volume 53, Feb 5, 1936, p. 245
  2. p. 29, The Many Americas Shall Be One, Harrison Evans Salisbury. Published by W. W. Norton, 1971.


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