The oddball media slander of the tea party, now routine, shows more than a little calculation along a rather perilous historical line.
In the 1920s, in advance of the collectivization of private farms, Soviet leadership stigmatized as “class enemies” a productive set of landowners known as “kulaks.” The word was derived from the Russian for “fist” and extended to mean “tight-fisted.”
In the beginning, the Soviets attempted to turn peasant farmers against the kulaks by denouncing them, in Mr. Lenin’s illiberal words, as “bloodsuckers, vampires, plunderers of the people and profiteers, who fatten on famine.”
As the collectivization progressed, and even the peasantry resisted its mounting horrors, the Soviets defined “kulak” down to mean any farmer who would hide an ear of corn lest his family starve to death.
Before he was through, Stalin and his progressive pals killed off at least 5 million of these people either though starvation, ruthless deportation or outright murder.
If you think the analogy between tea party and kulak a bit extreme, allow me to share a few recent quotes, the first from Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Maureen Dowd of the New York Times (whose ace reporter, Walter Duranty, covered up Stalin’s terror-famine and won a Pulitzer for it):
“Tea Party budget-slashers … were like cannibals, eating their own party and leaders alive. They were like vampires, draining the country’s reputation, credit rating and compassion.”
If it sounds like Dowd was plagiarizing Lenin, don’t put it past her. In May 2009, Dowd got caught lifting a paragraph word-for-word from the blog of Talking Points Memo Editor Josh Marshall.
What saved Dowd’s career was what saved the career of other recently busted plagiarizers – Doris Kearns Goodwin, Lawrence Tribe, Charles Ogletree, Joe Biden and Barack Obama for that matter – a willingness to lie about their offense (always “inadvertent’) and honor the party line.
The progressive line on those tight fisted “tea baggers” (snicker, snicker) has been consistently, often violently, hostile. Bloomberg columnist Margaret Carlson weighed in as well, her mangled prose not quite obscuring her unhinged contempt:
“There’s a nihilist caucus which is, ‘Listen, we want to burn the place down.’ I mean, they’re not, they’ve strapped explosives to the Capitol and they think they are immune from it.”
Steven Rattner, MSNBC’s economic analyst, extended the jihadi metaphor on Morning Joe:
“It’s like a form of economic terrorism. I imagine these tea party guys are, like, strapped with dynamite, standing in the middle of Times Square at rush hour and saying, ‘Either you do it my way, or we’re going to blow you up, ourselves up, and the whole country up with us.’”
As history will duly note, the Tea Party Caucus did not get its way on the budget deal. Before the deadline, President Obama signed a bill he liked, extended the debt ceiling and, for a few days at least, seemed to have saved the republic.
Said Senate Majority Leader and Democrat Harry Reid, “One day left, we were able to get together and avert that disaster.”
“Opponents of the bill,” reported the National Journal, included “those on the far left” as well as “those on the far right” and “some conservative Democrats.”
That did not stop Obama’s pals from blaming the tea party for the mayhem that followed. On CBS’ “Face the Nation,” Obama consultant David Axelrod called Standard & Poor’s subsequent downgrade of America’s credit rating “the tea-party downgrade.”
Let’s see, for the last two-and-a-half years, the tea party has consistently advocated, above all else, that America honor the Constitution and live within its means.
For the last two-and-a-half years, most of that time with control of both houses of Congress, the Obama administration has spent like drunken Democrats. And when S&P finally calls them on it, the tea party is at fault?
To Orwell’s “War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength,” we might now add, “Prudence is plunder. Vigilance is vampirism. Recklessness is restraint.”
For two years before fixing on the “class enemy” gambit, the Democrats and their media allies tried vainly to paint the tea partiers as race enemies.
This strategy reached its absurd apogee with the Spittlegate affair on Capitol Hill in March 2010. There, the Congressional Black Caucus staged a racial hoax so clumsy it would have made Tawana Brawley blush
As this short YouTube piece shows, in the age of the Internet and the ubiquitous video camera, progressives can no longer quite make their agitprop stick.
That does not stop them from trying. In the week after the downgrade, I was passing through a room in which late-night comedian Conan O’Brien was holding forth on his TV show.
O’Brien was talking about the new Spiderman, Miles Morales, a mixed-race teenager, half black and half Hispanic. At the top of Spiderman’s enemies list, said O’Brien in his punch line, was the tea party. Ha, ha, ha!
To their credit, the audience members did not quite get the joke. They thought O’Brien was making up the part about Morales. Unfortunately, he wasn’t. Race-baiting is the last refuge of the clueless left.
The question remains as to whether the tea party will share the kulaks’ unhappy fate, and the answer to that is an unqualified “Nyet.”
Having spoken to tea-party groups in at least half-dozen states from California (San Francisco, even!) to Florida, I can make a few generalizations about the people who show up.
Here is the reality on the ground. Unlike their progressive critics, tea partiers own guns, often lots of guns, and they know how to use them.
They understand too that the founders designed the Second Amendment to prevent what Alexander Hamilton called “the fatal evil” of government tyranny.
As James “Dirty Jimmy” Madison said in the heretofore undiscovered Federalist 357, “You want to turn me into a kulak, punk? Go ahead. Make my day.”