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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Matthew, I got to thinking about your comment that the T.P. so far has been non-violent.  They have been violent toward women pushing for laws (already passed in some states) prohibiting abortion in later months even if the mother's health would be threatened to carry the fetus to term.  But you qualification ("so far") had me thinking about the comparison again of the T.P. to the Taliban.  One of the primary sources of Muslim violence has been the friction between sects, mainly Sunni versus Shia.  Throughout the history of fundamentalist Christianity in the U.S. there has been animosity toward the Catholic Church, which, after all, is hardly made up only of white Anglo-Saxons.  Surely you do not think that if a theocracy were established in the U.S., one sect or another would try to suppress another (or all the others).  This is a clip from Wikipedia's bio of the Rev. John Hagee, one of the most hateful megachurch pastors in the business.  If you believe Hagee has been rehabilitated by his being sharply criticized for anti-RCC sentiments, the bridge is for sale:

Controversial views

Hagee has been criticized for his statements about Israel, the Roman Catholic Church, and Islam. One notable critic is journalist Bill Moyers, who claims that Hagee and other evangelicals are working toward supporting the religious right. He states, "Someone who didn't know better could imagine from the very name Christians United For Israel—CUFI—that pastor John Hagee speaks for all Christians. Well, he doesn't... What these fellows have forged is a close connection between the [George W. Bush] White House and the religious right."[30]

Some Jewish leaders, such as Reform Rabbi Eric Yoffie, criticized Hagee for being an "extremist" on Israeli policy and for disparaging other faiths including Islam and Roman Catholicism.[31]

Accusations of anti-Catholicism

After Hagee's 2008 endorsement of U.S. Presidential candidate John McCain, a furor arose over comments, broadcasts, and writings made by Hagee that were seen as anti-Catholic. After discussions with Catholic leaders, Hagee made an apology, which was publicly accepted by Catholic League President William Donohue.[32]

When Hagee made the endorsement, the Catholic League for Civil and Religious Rights president William A. Donohue issued the following remarks regarding Senator John McCain's ties to Hagee:

Now that he has secured the Republican nomination for president, and has received the endorsement of President Bush, McCain will now embark on a series of fundraising events. When he meets with Catholics, he is going to be asked about his ties to Hagee. He should also be asked whether he approves of comments like this: "A Godless theology of hate that no one dared try to stop for a thousand years produced a harvest of hate." That quote is proudly cited by David Brog in his recent book, Standing with Israel. Both Brog and Hagee clearly identify the Roman Catholic Church as spawning a "theology of hate." This is nothing if not hate speech. There are so many good evangelical leaders in this country—Dr. James Dobson, Dr. Richard Land, Tony Perkins, Gary Bauer, Dr. Al Mohler, Chuck Colson—and none has ever insulted Catholicism.[33]

The "Godless theology" quotation is taken from Hagee's 1987 work Should Christians Support Israel? (p. 4)[34]

Hagee's attack against Christian antisemitism in his book Jerusalem Countdown claimed that Adolf Hitler's antisemitism derived especially from his Catholic background, and that the Catholic Church under Pope Pius XII encouraged Nazism instead of denouncing it. (pp. 79–81)[35] In his 1998 book he called Hitler "a spiritual leader in the Catholic Church",[36] despite there being no evidence Hitler even attended Mass after 1918.[37] He also states that the Roman Catholic Church "plunged the world into the Dark Ages," allowed for the Crusaders to rape and murder with impunity, and called for Jews to be treated as "Christ killers". (p. 73) Later in the book (pp. 81–2), however, he praises Pope John Paul II for repudiating past antisemitism in the Roman Catholic Church.

Hagee claimed in March 2008, "I've learned that some have accused me of referring to the Catholic Church as the 'great whore,' of Revelation. This is a serious misinterpretation of my words. When I refer to the 'great whore,' I am referring to the apostate church, namely those Christians who embrace the false cult system of Jew-hatred and antisemitism."[38]

Donohue rejected Hagee's explanation as disingenuous: "Anti-Catholic Protestants have long labeled the Catholic Church "The Great Whore," and no amount of spin can change that reality. No one who knows anything about the term would suggest otherwise."[38] Furthermore, Hagee did identify [the Great Whore of] Babylon as Rome in his book From Daniel to Doomsday (1999), in a way that it became inherent to the Roman Empire and the Roman Catholic Church: "The evidence would point to Rome...It was Rome where Nero wrapped Christians in oily rags and hung them on lampposts, setting them ablaze to light his gardens. It was Rome that orchestrated the Crusades where Jews were slaughtered...It was Rome that orchestrated the Inquisitions throughout the known world where "heretics" were burned at the stake or pulled in half on torture racks because they were not Roman Catholic." (pp. 10–11)

Hagee further responded to the charge in a videotaped statement and press release, categorically denying that he was anti-Catholic, on the grounds that his church runs a "social services center" that serves a largely Catholic constituency, that he supported a convent personally, that he had often denounced Martin Luther, not just the Catholic Church, for antisemitism, and that he did not interpret the "Whore of Babylon" as a reference to the Catholic Church.[39]

Letter of apology and reconciliation

On May 12, 2008, Hagee issued a letter of apology to William Donohue, the president of the Catholic League, expressing regret for "any comments that Catholics have found hurtful."[40] He apologized for condemning Catholics for what he viewed was their persecution of Jews, and outright stated that he did not believe that, and many other previously held views, any longer.[40] He also said that the "great whore" comments were taken out of context and were not directed at the Catholic Church.[40] He went on to explain that his comments about the Catholic Church were made "[i]n my zeal to oppose anti-Semitism and bigotry in all its ugly forms. I have often emphasized the darkest chapters in the history of Catholic and Protestant relations with the Jews."[41] Bill Donohue told Fox News, "I'm absolutely delighted... I haven't seen such a quick turnaround in the 15 years that I have been president of the Catholic League.... The tone of Hagee's letter is sincere. He wants reconciliation and he has achieved it."[40] "Indeed, the Catholic League welcomes his apology," Donohue wrote in a press release. "What Hagee has done takes courage and quite frankly I never expected him to demonstrate such sensitivity to our concerns. But he has done just that. Now Catholics, along with Jews, can work with Pastor Hagee in making interfaith relations stronger than ever. Whatever problems we had before are now history."[40]

I can sum up the business about the Tea Party and its potential for violence with one sign from a TP rally:

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!

I see some room for improvement right there. Seriously one does not need to buy into the religions crap of (much of) the TP  to see that we, as a country have gone very seriously off track. And the taxes that are collected are far less than is being spent; a situation that is economically unsustainable.

This is where they've gotten some influence beyond the religious nutter crowd... the government is economically out of control, and both major parties are so deeply invested in that mindset that nothing short of a political meltdown (or economic collapse, a la Detroit)  stands a chance of bringing sanity to the situation.

[As a side point,air controllers and restaurant inspections are trivial parts of our tax expenditure, highways are substantially paid from fuel taxes, not income taxes (restaurant inspections are NOT done by the feds). The real elephant in the room should start with the 'global military footprint' mentality which has been embedded in our federal government since the 50s. It IS time to get back to a defensive military]

But the T.P. is so inconsistent in their demands.  They want lower taxes, but they do not mind funding increasing weapons tech, lining the pockets of the military industrial complex.

wanting lower taxes is one thing.  it's easy to be against taxes.  what i referenced in that story was something different.  there's a complete lack of realizations that while gov't is big, so is the country.  and the gov't provides a lot of services.  yet the tea party would like to end the income tax, the death tax, and the IRS in general.  they are extremists who reject the very concept of taxation.  it simply isn't a valid position to take, but there they are.  

We were warned, yet paid no heed.

A Repub friend insists that Eisenhower's speech warned of a triumvirate, "the military-industrial-congressional complex" but an advisor in the White House talked him into leaving congress out of it.  There would not be a military-industrial complex if congress did not want one.

After making my post about the Tea Party, their love for the 2nd Amendment and their not-so-veiled threat of violence, something occurred to me:

Is their love for guns and determination to use them aimed at a government that would doubtless overwhelm them were they foolish enough to try to overthrow it ... or at those who stand against them and are pro-gun-control, to intimidate their opponents?  At WHOM is this threat really directed?

Yes, there are intercontinental ballistic missiles and intracontinental missiles.  They would be foolish to take on the government.

Allow me to tender a somewhat contrary opinion. Maybe they would be foolish, and maybe not. An armed uprising, which is popular among the inhabitants, can pull off amazing things against an organized and armed government. I'm thinking of the Irish rebellion in the 1920s. Farmers and clerks who fought Great Britain to a standstill. The Vietnamese got rid of both France and the US. Algerians got rid of the French. The Congolese got rid of the Belgians. I realize most of these were all colonies consisting of an homogeneous population. However, if the popularity of the nut cases in the Tea Party were to grow, I find it not unlikely that a not so small element of the US military would side with them. After all, the US Armed Forces are traditionally conservative, and as of late, have been infiltrated with the Christian right and Dominionists. Unfortunately, its not that inconceivable. There was a violent and bloody split once before in US history. It's not beyond the realm of possibility that it could happen again.

The Vietnamese lost somewhere in the neighborhood of 2.5 million people during the "American War," as they were calling it in Vietnam when I was teaching there in 2000.  Will the TP make such a sacrifice?

I don't know the answer to that one. Neither do I know if the opposition will, either.




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