Many pundits stress the linkage between fundamentalist Islamism and the revolt against traditional dictatorships in the Middle East, but in fact the tyrannies in Egypt, Tunisia, and Libya were not overthrown by Islamist movements, but by people whose calls for liberty, transparency, and moral probity sound much more like the Tea Party than like the theocratic ideologues who are challenging the revolutionaries for control. The revolutionaries are not fighting for a new caliphate or a theocratic state; indeed, for the most part they are in conflict with the religious Establishment, be it the Muslim Brotherhood or the Sunni or Shi’ite clergy. The Islamists may win, but they will continue to be widely seen as reactionaries, even among many of the faithful.
If you want a fine example of how religious revolutionaries turn into reactionary symbols of corruption and arrogance, just look at the Islamic Revolution in Iran.
The leaders of the Islamists’ greatest success — the Iranian revolutionaries who overthrew the shah in 1979 — are now facing a mass movement of Iranians who denounce Khomeini’s successors as corrupt hypocrites. Indeed, the two leading figures in the Green Movement — Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi, both of whom profess piety — accuse the regime of having betrayed revolutionary ideals, and demand that a new Iranian government grant greater freedom and shrink the powers of the state. Their followers and supporters probably constitute the overwhelming majority of the population, and their mass demonstrations against the regime in June, 2009, jump-started the “Arab Spring.”
The Global Tea Party thus extends from the United States to China, leaving its footprint in the Middle East. You can even see it in Europe, most recently in the Netherlands, where the lynchpin of the current government — Geert Wilders, an outspoken Christian — has called for a reassertion of traditional Dutch values, denounced the excessive toleration of reactionary, intolerant Islamism, and convinced his countrymen to require immigrants to learn Dutch and learn, and abide by, the rules and ideals of their new society. His recent speech in Berlin sounds very familiar to anyone familiar with Tea Party passions.
So when we hear the leaders of the American Establishment declare war on the tea partiers, we would do well to remember that such movements are deeply imbedded in our national DNA, that those Establishment types owe their own status to such a movement, that the dreams of the tea partiers are shared not only by millions of American voters, but by freedom-seeking peoples in some very unexpected places, and that it is no accident to discover that a global movement in the name of freedom coincides with a global Great Awakening, with roots in America and its unique revolutionary tradition.
UPDATE: Thanks to Instapundit for linking! Happy to have the Punditeers with us. And thanks similarly to Urbanonramps, and Deadcatsandclippings.