Chicken Little was one of those kid's stories my mother read to me as a child. Adults today should read the story again to understand how on person's paranoia can transform into mass hysteria. Chicken Little gets boinked on the head with an acorn, "logically" deduces that the sky is falling, and convinces everyone else that his delusion is reality.
During the campaign of 2008 the first "acorn" I heard about Barack Obama was the rumor (in an email from Anonymous) that he is a Muslim. The logic went like this: his father was a Muslim, born in Kenya, therefore Mr. Obama has to be a Muslim. Ironically, this came shortly before the email (again from Anonymous) saying his Baptist preacher was a Black Radical, so he must be a Black Baptist Radical, too. I found this hilarious because the Baptists and the Muslims don't really work and play well with each other.
Factor in the internet and Chicken Little has an audience of millions. I think every Tea Party member has accounts with MyFace, SpaceBook and dozens of blogs; so, these emails, and dozens of others, went viral within a few days. Now, when you google "Obama" and "Muslim" you get millions of hits, and we all know that a rumor repeated enough becomes Truth. All of these people can't be wrong.
Here is the dirty little secret about the "truth," truth is relative to one's beliefs. Consider the following story:
I was at a party at one of my neighbor's homes last night. When I woke up this morning my wallet was gone, so I called the host and asked him to inquire of his guests the whereabouts of it. Later, a person I met last night calls and tells me Bob took my wallet. Bob has been a good friend for many years, so, of course, I don't believe that Bob took my wallet, I like Bob. A few minutes later, another person I met last night calls and tells me it was Don who took my wallet. I've had several altercations with Don before, so yes, it had to be him. I don't like Don, so I'm primed to believe anything bad I'm told about him; and since Bob is a good friend, I can only believe good things about him. This is the cognitive process that helps us determine what is the truth.
The white racists certainly don't like President Obama because he is a clear threat to their position as the superior race in America. The fundamentalists don't like him because he doesn't share their goal of a Christian Theocracy. The conservatives don't like him simply because he's a liberal. And of course, the wealthy don't like him because he wants to raise their taxes. All of these groups are primed to believe anything bad that they hear about President Obama.
We now have a black president and an economy that was failing when he took office. We are in two long-term wars and the economy is recovering at a slow pace while many are out of work. Not only are there people who hate the president, but a many live in fear of economic failure, terrorist attacks and a whole list of Chicken Little beliefs. The sky is falling
With all of this hate and fear, it's easy to understand this Tea Party Mob. The people who hate the president are making up the most vile and threatening lies and spreading them across the internet, while the ones who fear for their future and the future of our nation are ready to believe anything they read, because they already don't like the president.
We now have various groups who have joined forces to form the Tea Party movement. When people are afraid for their families, their children, themselves, and their nation, they are willing to act on that fear in any way they feel will keep them safe. Unreasoned fear often elicits an unreasoned response, often in the form of a mob. Once the mob has formed it takes on a life of it's own, which most often becomes even more fearful and more unreasonable in it's actions.
As it stands, this Tea Party Mob is primed and ready to follow anyone who promises to keep them safe and take down the ones they hate. As we saw in the debt ceiling debate in Congress, they are willing to take the nation into a depression in order to achieve their goals. Like the Old West Mob storming the jail with a rope they aren't concerned about hearing anything like reason and facts, only hanging the accused, who in this case is the president.