Debating Daily Kos: Is the Tea Party Violent?
Last week, thanks to a last minute shuffle I found myself debating Markos Moulitsas Zuniga, aka Kos of Daily Kos, on WNYC's The Brian Lehrer Show. WNYC has posted the debate here. I encourage everyone to listen to it. It gives listeners a useful look into the mind behind the hivemind that's leading the left's so-called Netroots. They're the online activists who have to a great extent been pulling the Democratic Party farther and farther to the left over the past few years.
Kos, it turns out, is a spectacularly ill-informed individual. Either that, or he's just a bald-faced liar. For now, I'll go with "spectacularly ill-informed." In his pre-show post, Kos badly misplaces the incident in which a deranged man flew a plane into an IRS building by a long shot, moving it from Austin (where it really happened) to Dallas. He's only off by about 195 miles. And Kos also mistakes the man for a righty Tea Party activist. Wrong again.
In the debate, Kos went with a theme that the Tea Party is violent but being more or less tamed by going mainstream. As evidence, Kos proffered the aforementioned Austin plane crasher, whom he didn't bother to name let alone attempt to describe factually or fairly. Kos also offered grand, sweeping statements about folks stocking up on ammo and committing unnamed acts of violence against unnamed non-Tea Party individuals.
So let's get the Austin plane crasher out of the way. His name was Joseph Andrew Stack, and his manifesto shows that he was a very frustrated individual who wasn't purely on the political right or left. He was slightly to the left but mostly just crazy. He was anti-tax, but also anti-Catholic Church and anti-big business, and had evidently gotten himself into legal trouble here and there. To hold him out as an example of a Tea Partier as Kos does shows either rank dishonesty or a lack of familiarity with the facts.
Likewise, Kos' sweeping statements that the Tea Party carries with it an undercurrent of violence just don't hold up. He cites a Time magazine story and touts the Obama administration's misguided and controversial monitoring of Tea Partiers and returning veterans, but otherwise offers no specifics. I'll offer some, but they don't agree with his premise.
Just this past weekend, the left held their "One Nation" rally in Washington. There was violence -- against a Human Events reporter who was there to cover the scene. Human Events is a conservative outlet, edited by my friend Jason Mattera. It would be fun and probably informative to find out the identity of the woman caught on video taking several swings at the Human Events reporter. We know that SEIU and other unions bussed in protesters by the hundreds.
Last year during the town hall meetings that took place nationwide, there was violence. For instance, SEIU folks in their trademark purple shirts assaulted black Tea Party activist Kenneth Gladney at a Russ Carnahan event in Missouri. And it was Barack Obama, not any Tea Partier, who said this about his opponents:
"If they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun. That’s the Chicago way."
That's extreme. And it's violent, at least in its imagery. And it came from the left's leader.
Kos goes on in both the debate and in his absurd book, American Taliban: How War, Sex, Sin and Power Bind Jihadists and the Radical Right, to assert that the right is similar to and may even be making common cause with jihadists.
Counter punch: On the right, anti-jihad blogs and writers are common, so much so that at some level just about every righty blogger has opined against jihadists and sites like The Long War Journal, Jihad Watch, Atlas Shrugs, and our own commonly inveigh against jihad and jihadists. But where are the left's dedicated anti-jihad bloggers? Where is their anti-jihad blog? To be sure, lefty blogs will offer occasional criticism of jihadists, but they spend the vast majority of their time calling anti-jihad bloggers "racist" and hammering against U.S. war policy and slamming the West in general.
And it was Kos himself who said this, when jihadists murdered and mutilated Americans in Fallujah back in 2004:
They are there to wage war for profit. Screw them.
That attack was an al-Qaeda operation, probably masterminded by al Qaeda in Iraq leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. To this day, Kos has never retracted that statement, which evidently reflected his gut reaction to seeing video of jihadists dangling the corpses of dead Americans from a bridge. So who is more likely to make convenient common cause with jihadists?
The fact is, as I said in the Lehrer debate linked above, the Tea Party is a quintessentially American movement. It's a gathering of citizens seeking their Constitutionally guaranteed redress of grievances from a government that is not listening to them. To call the Tea Party a violent movement is nothing less than a smear. To link them to jihadists in any way is, frankly, fundamentally dishonest.