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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 4/15/10

What to Do With the Anti-War Faction of the Tea Party?

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When it comes to movement building, so far liberals, progressives and leftists have not been receptive to the idea of dialoguing and finding common cause with members in the Tea Party that may be open to anti-war or even anti-imperialist views.

Left-wing groups or coalitions will be engaging in counter demonstrations to take on the trajectory that the Tea Party especially its financiers and leaders like Sarah Palin are pulling America in. As tens of thousands of people come out and protest today, what is a fair response to the reality that right wing and left wing populism is converging on issues of foreign policy?

Yes, the Tea Party thrives on misogynistic, racist, homophobic, anti-immigrant, anti-ethnic, hyper-masculine, and (often) Christian fascist ideas. And, all of these ideas are ideas that should be challenged and neutralized. Definitely, nobody should be accommodating these ideas. But, the Tea Party has a power that the Left doesn't have.

That power is the result of the media structures that dominate popular culture, discourse and conversation, that power is the result of pro-business forces and a dominant fixation on ownership, owner wealth and profit, and that power is the result of anti-communism and anti-socialism as a national religion and control mechanism.

Why not take the opportunity to split and divide this movement that is not as bottom-up and grassroots as the hosts and managers of FOX News or CNN would like Americans to believe?

Matt Welch of Reason Magazine says in a Real News video segment that the tea party has not figured out or really defined its stance on foreign policy. They have just relied on common bonds on a few domestic issues -- limiting the scope of government, reducing government spending, etc -- to bring people together for action.

The Ron Paul or Campaign for Liberty faction of the Tea Party movement are, as far as I can tell, very open to anti-imperialist ideas. Here's a recent quote from Ron Paul spoken at the Southern Republican Leadership Conference:

"The conservatives and the liberals, they both like to spend...Conservatives spend money on different things. They like embassies, and they like occupation. They like the empire. They like to be in 135 countries and 700 bases...Don't you think it's rather conservative to say, "Oh it's good to follow the Constitution. Oh, except for war. Let the President go to war anytime they want.' We can do better with peace than with war."

Now, that's something I agree with. I don't like occupation, empire and I don't want the U.S. to be in 135 countries with more than 700 bases.

And, if citizens who are receptive to Tea Party issues, if citizens who are anti-government and want to organize with the Tea Party because they need an outlet for their anger and despair happen to agree with the idea that we can do better with peace than war, than why not pick them apart and divide them? Why not ask them why the Freedomworks/Sarah Palin Tea Party supports occupation and they don't?

Leading scholar on the left, Noam Chomsky, spoke to a crowd in Madison, Wisconsin recently and said, "I'm just old enough to have heard a number of Hitler's speeches on the radio and I have a memory of the texture and the tone of the cheering mobs, and I" sense the dark clouds of fascism gathering here at home.

Chomsky spoke about Joseph Stack, the 53-year-old software engineer who flew an airplane into an IRS building in Texas last February. He quoted from Stack's manifesto and said that Stack was "basically right" in his critique of American politics and capitalism. Then, Chomsky said "the left is failing the country by not reaching out to those in the Tea Party movement, who are frustrated and fed up with American government."

In Chomsky's opinion, "They shouldn't be laughed at. It's not a joke...Ridiculing the Tea Party shenanigans is a terrible mistake."

Chomsky asked people to consider why those voices are being mobilized by the "extreme Right" in this country.

Perhaps, Chomsky's logic is what CODEPINK and other liberals or progressives are responding to. CODEPINK has made plans to "extend an olive branch" to the Tea Party at the Tax Day protests.

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Kevin Gosztola is managing editor of Shadowproof Press. He also produces and co-hosts the weekly podcast, "Unauthorized Disclosure." He was an editor for
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