Sunday, February 28, 2010

Tea is the gateway drug to Militia movement

The Sepoy mutiny (IOT) is traditionally said to have begun with a rumor that new rifle cartridges, which soldiers had to bite to use, were greased with pig and cow fat.

The rumor spread quickly, and enraged many. It sounds plausible to me, but Melvyn Bragg's 3 guests all agreed that the truth was irrelevant. The rumor was a spark on dry kindling. It didn't have to be true, and refutation was irrelevant.

When a people are prepared to believe, beliefs are powerful and fungible.

I thought of that story when I read David Barstow's epic study of the all-white Tea Party movement. The Tea Party movement is rife with fear and rumor, and it is ready to believe.

The Tea Party had its roots in the GOP, but now it's largely lead by Glenn Beck. Wildly popular with a part of the GOP base the Tea Party is a threat to the corporate heart of the GOP - and Beck's Mormonism is an issue for GOP evangelicals.

So the Tea Party is mixed blessing for the GOP. That's a problem, but it's not the big problem.

The real problem is that the Tea Party is proving to be a "gateway drug" to the pro-terrorist Militia movement and a wide range of the far right fringe parties. Timothy McVeigh wannabes are warming up, just as they did for Clinton.

Challenging times.

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