Joe Stack Did Not Have Tea Party Principles

The dreaded event most tea partiers have been anticipating now has a name: Joe Stack. It also has a date: February 18, 2010. Mr. Stack will soon be part of the duo "Stack and McVeigh" touted all over the mainstream media for weeks. It will serve as the left-wing sledge hammer taken to the knees of the tea party movement.

Reading between the headlines reveals a more profound story: how a sheltered and wealthy nation that has lost its way may deal with the reality of impending poverty. We can choose to root ourselves in principled patriotism and prayerful humility, as documented in the relative social calm of the Great Depression, or we can descend into chaos under social degradation and vacuous ideologies.

On February 18, Joe Stack burned his house down and flew a plane into an IRS building in Austin, Texas. Before doing so, he left a manifesto detailing his financial troubles. We all knew this moment would eventually come, when some fool who had his pockets emptied by the government would snap. Although Stack may have listed common grievances expressed by many of the grassroots tea party conservatives, his cowardice is not characteristic of the patriots who are working to restore our nation under that movement. Stack’s mainstream grievances were expressed in the manifesto:

Here we have a [tax and legal system] that is … too complicated. ... Yet, it mercilessly "holds accountable" its victims claiming they’re responsible for fully complying with laws not even the experts understand. …[Regarding IRS Section 1706] I spent close to $5000 … and at least 1000 hours of my time writing, printing and mailing to any senator, congressman, governor, or slug that might listen; none did, and they universally treated me as if I was wasting their time.

The rest of the manifesto smacks of a self-centered pity party, as if Joe Stack was the sole recipient of hard times and single-handedly financed the corruption of Congress. The majority of the world isn’t so lucky as to possess a house to burn and a plane to crash when carrying out what amounts to a childish hissy fit.

Stack whines in his manifesto that “we are brainwashed to believe that there is freedom in this place. ... I have spent … my adulthood unlearning that crap.” He goes on to defame the Catholic Church and organized religion while trying to justify his felony tax evasion and “creative problem solving.”

Stack recounts his college years with a story of an old woman advising him to try cat food for sustenance rather than a steady diet of peanut butter sandwiches. How pathetic and vacant does one have to be not to appreciate the opportunity for higher education? Many who put themselves through school do exist on meager diets (not cat food), but it is a situation of their own choosing. It’s called “sucking it up” and being grateful to live in a country where you are free to better yourself.