“Too often we enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought. – John F. Kennedy.”
One of the best economics and political magazines on the market is The Economist. The reason for my belief is that the writers, while having a deeply intimate knowledge of a subject, are outsiders to the U.S political scene. They have no stake in the game and therefore can be honest about what they’re seeing.
So when I read this piece, I thought they might actually be onto something Americans should seriously look at to determine how they’re being manipulated by skilled politicos out to make a name – or a fortune – for themselves:
You’d think a party that attracts voters by calling Islam a backward, totalitarian ideology, openly using the term “rotten Moroccans”, and calling for banning the Koran would have some trouble accusing anybody else of a “hate-campaign”. But they’ve got gumption, they’re smart, and they know how this stuff works. When a far-right party talks about “rotten Moroccans”, they’ll vaguely alienate moderates, and they’ll create solid anger against them amongst people of Moroccan ancestry, who would never have voted for them anyway and who lack the political power to do much about them. On the other hand, they may provoke the Moroccans to call them “racists” or compare them to Nazis. That’s the reaction they’re looking for. Being compared to Nazis has an intense solidifying effect on their own voters; anyone who may have voted for them, or considered voting for them, now feels insulted and aggrieved, and no more moderate right-wing party can provide them with a satisfactory retaliation for what they consider the injustice of having been compared to a Nazi. The dynamic a party…wants to create is us-against-them; comparing them to Nazis helps them solidify that divide and anchor their membership.
Now, I’m sure you’re thinking the above paragraph is all about the Tea Party. You’re wrong. It’s about the Geert Wilders’ Party for Freedom (PVV) in Denmark. But the correlation of actions between Tea Party tactics and the PVV are consistent.
I really wonder if Tea Party members, with its “birther” and anti-immigration movements, really want to be perceived as America’s PVV? Or if like Geert Wilders, it’s national leaders aren’t out for themselves.
Again, for a far-right political movement, this stuff is pure gold. The sense of aggrievement felt by tea-party adherents and sympathisers at the accusation of racism is very similar to that felt by PVVers at any hint of a reference to Nazism. The involvement of government subsidies provides the hook one needs to turn this into a public issue. The fact that one executive* of the organisation says he thinks the tea-party movement is racist becomes the trigger not just for an offensive against an organisation unfriendly to hard-right ideology, but for a further solidification of the us-versus-them recruiting strategy. (“See? The liberal media thinks we’re racists.”)
*NOTE: The James O’Keefe (highly edited) video has been thoroughly discredited by none other than Blaze, the online news magazine of FOX News’ Glenn Beck.