SAN DIEGO, May 4, 2013 — It’s been several weeks since Boston’s Patriot Day nightmare. We have long since learned that the Tsarnaev brothers who set off two bombs were influenced by Jihadist teachings from the Internet and from extremists who sometimes spoke at a Cambridge mosque.
Although we do not yet know as much about the three young men accused of helping them, Azamat Tazhayakov, Dias Kadyrbayev, and Robel Phillipos, nothing so far has suggested that their alleged assistance was motivated by any tea party affiliation. Undoubtedly this is a major disappointment to media pundits and other passionate moralists who express grave concern about the tea party while losing sleep over our country’s unjustified hostile attitude toward Muslims.
Ironically, many of the same people who deliver sanctimonious lectures about not rushing to associate terrorists with Islam will casually offer hints about tea partyers or other “right-wing extremists” as potential culprits whenever a large scale murder is committed.
On Patriots Day, Chris Matthews, always eager to interpret news events before the qualifying news actually arrives, said on Hardball, “You know, I was thinking of all the iconic events, or being told about them today. Of course, I knew it was Tax Day because I got them in. But of course, it’s Patriots Day. It’s also the Boston Marathon. And would you as an expert be thinking domestic at this point? I don’t think Tax Day means a whole lot to the Arab world or Islamic world or the, certainly not to al Qaeda in terms of their world. It doesn’t have any iconic significance.”
Matthews was dropping a rather obvious hint: These bombers were probably tea party participants or at least kindred souls, those who patriotically object to large federal taxes.
Later, when the FBI informed news outlets that the bombs were planted by Muslim terrorists, Mathews talked as if this new information were irrelevant:
“Why is that important? Why is that important to — is that important to prosecuting? I mean, what difference does it make why they did it if they did it? I’m being tough here. But I don’t know whether, when you look at all this evidence …”
Forgive me, Mr. Matthews, but motive seemed very important to you when you thought the bomber might have connections to the tea party.
CNN’s Wolf Blitzer offered a similar guess: “It is a state holiday, in addition to the Boston Marathon. It is a state holiday in Massachusetts today, called Patriots’ Day. And who knows if that had anything at all to do with these twin explosions?”
While Blitzer can claim that technically he was only asking questions, writer David Sirota, of Salon.com was honest and upfront about his feelings: “If you care about everything from stopping war to reducing the defense budget to protecting civil liberties to passing immigration reform, you should hope the bomber was a white domestic terrorist. Why? Because only in that case will privilege work to prevent the Boston attack from potentially undermining progress on those other issues.”
While the above quote does not mention the tea party specifically, Sirota associates the Tea Party primarily with white people seeking to hold on to power. In 2010 he enthusiastically commented on an article from American Prospect:
“The article does a commendable job showing how the Tea Party demographic ― according to polls, predominantly suburban, upper-middle class and white ― has in the past ‘only been able to maintain a sense of their own power by their place at the top of the heap’ and that today a ‘sense of lost privilege is stoking the drive toward (tea partyers’) ethno nationalism.’” (David Sirota, All Roads Lead To White Privileged, 5-5-10)
The Boston attack was not the first act of violence unfairly associated with the tea party or similar “right wing extremism.”
After the Colorado movie theater shooting, ABC News reporter Brian Ross quickly reported that a certain James Holmes, (same name as the theater shooter) was a member of the Colorado Tea Party. Although he admitted up front that they had not yet established this individual as the same James Holmes, and admitted later that the tea party member was indeed a different man, Ross still drew the tea party casually into the discussion of violence like a post hypnotic suggestion.
And who can forget New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, who wrote regarding the 2011 Arizona shooting which killed several people and wounded Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords:
“It is facile and mistaken to attribute this particular madman’s act directly to Republicans or Tea Party members. But it is legitimate to hold Republicans and particularly their most virulent supporters in the media responsible for the gale of anger that has produced the vast majority of these threats, setting the nation on edge.”
Translation: “Even though we should not blame the tea party or the Republicans, I blame them anyway.”
Of course, there was no evidence that the Arizona tragedy had anything to do with tea parties or Republicans. In fact, it turned out that Jared Lee Loughner was a registered Independent who did not even vote in the 2010 election. He also owned a copy of The Communist Manifesto. Neither Republicans nor tea partyers take Marx as a role model for their cause.
Although the truth always turns up eventually, these frequent, thoughtless, premature statements are still taking a toll. Many of my personal friends pay little, if any, attention to the news. Who can blame them? The news is depressing. Unfortunately, they get bits and pieces of news by osmosis, based upon things heard around the water cooler, dinner table, or perhaps a few impressions from “objective” networks like CNN or MSNBC while quickly flipping their remote control to catch at least a word or two of news.
These same friends, (loving, intelligent and kind) sincerely believe the tea party is guilty of violence. This is because they hear the name constantly in connection with horrific crime. Even when the source of the rumor retracts his statement, the stallion has already left the corral. By the time anchors or pundits admit to a mistaken guess, by the time we learn who really did the shooting or the bombing, a suggestion is forged upon the mind. Add in the many times this same insinuation pops up with additional news reported violence, and a subtle pattern emerges. Brainwashing takes place, even if unintentionally.
“One hundred bucks says you’ve never even been to a tea party,” I said once to a friend who was under the impression that the tea party was made up of a bunch of whackos advocating violence. To her credit, my friend did admit that she was repeating things apart from any personal investigation.
When people actually study the subject, or better yet, visit a tea party gathering, they are pleasantly surprised. They discover that the term “tea party” is a very loose title encompassing conflicting ideals and diverse ethnicities. Asians, African-Americans, and Hispanics are quite comfortable in attendance and do not see it as any kind of “white only club.” There is even an organization in Texas called “The Black Tea Party.
And contrary to popular opinion, not all Republicans like the tea party. Those Republicans who do participate are frequently joined by conservative Democrats and Libertarians. They differ with each other on many social issues but find at least one value to agree on: Americans should protect the American Constitution.
Militant Muslims, who would shred this same Constitution in a heartbeat by replacing it with Sharia law, are being defended, often by those who reserve their fear only for the tea party. Should western civilization survive, America may be remembered as the greatest, yet stupidest country ever to grace our fair planet.
This is Bob Siegel, making the obvious, obvious.
Bob Siegel is a weekend radio talk show host on KCBQ and columnist. Bob sometimes selects reader’s comments and responds to them on his radio show. Readers are free to call in and challenge Bob’s response over the air. Details of his program can be found at www.bobsiegel.net.