(The Washington Times) – Liberals can’t fathom their side as the butt of dissent. The left is aghast at today’s Tea Party movement. How could Americans of any stripe be so appalled at the exercise of the constitutional right to speak out against big, intrusive – yet unresponsive – government? Our Founders would no doubt be amused at the irony. It was after all, those same issues that provoked them in the first place. Of course, today’s liberals would have hated that Tea Party, too.
Lumped together, the left’s real criticism of the Tea Party movement is that it is “politically incorrect.” That is hardly surprising, considering the source. To liberals, the height of incorrect politics is someone who doesn’t share theirs.
It has never been the left’s goal to advance accuracy in politics, but uniformity – their uniformity. They keenly know that defining the terms of debate means largely determining its outcome. The greater the threat of the right’s substance, the further they seek to retreat from it.
So, while it maybe impossible to dismiss the Tea Party movement politically- as Rand Paul’s landslide victory Tuesday in the Kentucky Senate primary demonstrates – liberals are trying to dismiss it as politically incorrect. However, if they think this one is politically incorrect, they should have seen the first one.
The first Tea Party, which took place in Boston on Dec. 16, 1773, was an eruption within a larger tax protest. The Colonial protesters refused to buy tea taxed by the English government.
Unable to sell the taxed tea, usually English ships simply left American harbors without unloading their cargo. This was not the usual situation, though. Massachusetts’ royal governor sought to confront the protesters. So he refused to let a lone ship carrying tea leave Boston harbor without unloading.
A protracted standoff began. Protesters refused to let the taxed tea come ashore; the royal governor refused to let the loaded ship sail. What ensued was one of the most famous symbolic actions in history. It also was replete with political incorrectness.
First, it was a tax protest. Selfishly, our benighted forefathers thought they could make better use of their money than the government did. The action was not provoked by today’s redistributive tax policies, but by the protesters’ basic refusal to allow anyone other than their own representatives to tax them.
Second, the first Tea Partiers were apparently lacking in diversity. There is no mention of any women or minorities in attendance. The group was overwhelmingly white, Protestant males – a veritable hive of WASPs.
This homogenous mass of men met in the Old South Meeting House, as well. Shockingly, the location was a place of worship. No concern about separation of church and state then. It is hard to imagine what they were thinking.
The protesters also dressed themselves as Mohawk Indians. This appalling lack of cultural sensitivity would be impossible to explain to today’s left.
Once aboard the ship, they proceeded to dump all the ship’s tea into the sea. There is no record that an environmental impact study had been undertaken beforehand. The possible pollution of the harbor seemed to be of no concern whatsoever.
During the entire incident, there was probably only one element with which today’s left would not have found fault: the destruction of private property. In that one regard, the original Tea Partiers would have been welcomed with open arms at any International Monetary Fund protest. Of course, this act of anti-establishmentarianism was negated by Benjamin Franklin’s effort to have compensation paid for the destroyed tea.
Seriously though, the left’s charges of political incorrectness aimed at today’s Tea Party movement are hardly shocking. What would surprise is if the left was not appalled by it. That, though, is their right, even if they are wrong.
What the left is not entitled to, though, is their charge that the movement is inherently racist. This most insidious of charges is also the most inaccurate.
If patriotism has been called the last refuge of scoundrels, racism is now the first refuge of liberals. The left’s use of racism in extremis is regrettable in the extreme. It debases debate to have the charge pre-emptively thrown out at the hint of first conflict. More importantly, it desensitizes people to episodes where the charge is valid. Like anything else, the charge is subject to the law of diminishing returns.
If anyone is to be found guilty of knee-jerk prejudice, it is the Tea Party’s critics. They have been quite comfortable in taking a negative view of a group and projecting onto it their own worst thoughts and motivations.
Strangely the left’s own mass protests and pet groups are not held to the same standard. Of course, of all the things with which the left can be charged, fairness and intellectual consistency are not among them.
The left would have hated the first Tea Party – why wouldn’t they hate this one as well? The original aims were against higher taxes and intrusive government. Its ultimate outcome was an independent American government that was founded on the severe restriction of government’s authority – the Constitution. Now, well over 200 years later, the left still doesn’t get it.