Tea parties and projected violenceWritten by Tim Higgins | | email@example.com
I participated in a March 25 panel for a debate between Rich Iott and Jack Smith, Republican candidates for Marcy Kaptur’s congressional seat. Toledo Free Press was one of the sponsors of this event and was more than ably represented by Special Sections Editor Kristen Rapin on the panel. Both candidates did well and were forthcoming in answers to questions posed by both the panel and audience.
I was taken by the fact that it was Scott Allegrini (also on the panel) and the Children of Liberty who had organized this open forum debate. How is it that one of the demonized Tea Party groups had to do so in the days leading up to the May Republican primary when neither of the two disputed heads of the local Republican Party (nor any of the local Republican clubs) could manage to? I also wondered why, during an event that was hosted in an organized manner (moderated by Fred LeFebvre of WSPD) in front of a respectful and peaceful audience, such groups are so feared to perpetrate violence.
Not being a member of any Tea Party organization and therefore having no stake in this, I decided to do a bit of research on violent protest in this country. Having grown up in Chicago and lived through the 1968 Democratic Convention, I had certainly witnessed some of it in my past.
I remember the genuine fear that was felt by residents as members of a political group took to the streets that year. It was not however, right-wing opposition to the nomination of Hubert Humphrey and Edmund Muskie to the Democratic ticket that led to so much violence and destruction in that city. It was instead a factional dispute within the Democratic Party that brought the Chicago police out in riot gear.
It was not an attempt by the political right to stifle the free speech of such a protest, but the request of Democratic Mayor Richard J. Daley that brought the National Guard out in an attempt to bring order to those streets and to put down the violent protest of the party’s more liberal elements, who came seeking peace in the war in Vietnam.
We can likewise look at the race riots that occurred in the country during the last half of the 20th Century as examples of violent and destructive political protest.
And while many will say what occurred was justified as the righteous response of oppressed minorities to an intolerable situation, no one can say the violence and destruction that occurred in urban areas from Newark to Watts was perpetrated by members of militant right-wing organizations.
Nor was it a right-wing uprising that all but closed the streets of Seattle at the end of the last century when protests occurred as the World Trade Organization met there in 1999. Thousands marched, shattering windows and destroying property until once again the National Guard had to be called out and a curfew imposed in this well known center of liberal thinking in America.
It is strange therefore that there appears to be so much fear that some part of the Tea Party movement will become a violent right wing mob, set to explode into the streets and leave a path of destruction in their wake.
Perhaps the fear that the political left feels is genuine, but the concern of violent protest is a form of projection. Now for those of you unfamiliar with this term, it is one used in psychology, and Dictionary.com defines it as, “the tendency to ascribe to another person feelings, thoughts, or attitudes present in oneself.” If we accept this definition, then perhaps those making accusations of potential violent protest are those who would best understand the potential for it to get out of control.
In fact, setting aside the Revolutionary War period (when we were not yet a country), and perhaps the possibility of participation in Whiskey Rebellion of 1794, nowhere in my research on the subject was I able to discover a hint that any violent protest in this country could be ascribed to a group of conservative thinkers.
Dictionary.com later goes on in its definition to state that, “such an ascription relieving the ego of a sense of guilt or other intolerable feeling.”
So considering the tendency of the liberal left to be concerned more with feelings than facts, this is simply an attempt on its part to seek relief from such guilt and project its own violent past upon the present and future of the Tea Parties.
Columnist Tim Higgins blogs at http://justblowingsmoke.blogspot.com/.
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