Tuesday, May 18, 2010

A provocative essay on "Lock-And-Load Populism"

From Greg Grandin of TomDispatch:

Americans, it’s been said, learn geography when they go to war.  Now, it seems, many get their history when they go to a Tea Party rally or tune in to Glenn Beck.

History is a “battlefield of ideas,” as Beck recently put it, while looking professorial in front of a blackboard filled with his trademark circled names connected by multidirectional arrows, his hands covered with chalk dust.  In this struggle, movement historians like Beck go all in, advancing a comprehensive interpretation of American history meant to provide analytical clarity to believers and potential converts alike.  As paranoid as it may be, this history is neither radical nor revisionist, since the Tea Party activists and their fellow travelers pluck at some of the major chords of American nationalism.

It’s easy to dismiss the iconography of the movement: the wigs and knee breeches, the founding-father fetishism, the coiled snakes, and, yes, the tea bags.  It’s no less easy to laugh at recent historical howlers like the claims of Dick Armey, who heads FreedomWorks, a corporate Tea Party front, that Jamestown was settled by “socialists” or the Texas School Board’s airbrushing of Deist Thomas Jefferson from its history textbooks.  It’s fun to ridicule Beck, as Jon Stewart recently did, when he goes all “Da Vinci Code,” and starts connecting Woodrow Wilson, Mussolini, and ACORN in order to explain 2008’s economic collapse.

But historical analysis is about making connections, and there is, in fact, coherence to the Tea Party version of history, which allows conservative cadres not just to interpret the world but to act in it.  And yes, it is all about race.

Read more.......


  1. In other words, it wasn’t membership in the Tea Party movement per se that predicted racism, but conservatism itself (though the Tea Party does have a higher percentage of members who displayed racism than conservatism in general).

    This doesn't square w/my belief that teabaggers and conservatives are cut from the same cloth. Conservatives/Republicans may feel constrained by our "PC", 24/7 news world, but they slip every once in a while. What else could explain Franks's (R-AZ) comment that blacks were better off as slaves when women couldn't abort? The difference between Franks and teabaggers is teabaggers don't need to wrap their disdain for minorities in compassion.

  2. I agree to a point....but in my estimation Conservative does not = Republican. Just yesterday faux-Libertarian Rand Paul defended segregated lunch counters.

  3. Maybe I'm ignorant on the subject of libertarianism, but doesn't the philosophy support private discrimination?

  4. In a sense, the absolutist vision of Libertarianism could encompass legal and rampant discrimination based on race, gender, etc. But this view is usually relegated to the minarchist/anarchist faction. Just as other ideologies have an absolutist fringe, mainstream Libertarians support equal rights for all citizens in the public sphere.


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