Anniversaries and Tea Parties

Today is not only “tea party” day and income tax day, it’s also an anniversary of a most important occasion, one that, although unnoticed in the West at the time, would soon lead to a series of jaw-dropping events that drove us to sit around our TV sets transfixed and incredulous for many weeks. It’s a good reminder that the bigger anniversary, the one for the non-event that can still scarcely be acknowledged looms but a few weeks away. Please rush to that site now, and follow the links. And fasten your seatbelts for what’s to follow in a few weeks.

Back in the motherland, I’ve been watching in amusement and amazement as the “tea party” nonsense titillates the right into paroxysms of ecstasy. All I’ll say is this: The tea parties are code. They have nothing to do with taxes. They are all about anti-Obama rage, racism, fundamentalism and the Limbaugh-Rove-Malkin axis-of-sleazels’ wet dream of imitating the Nuremberg rallies in America. The astroturfed, Fox-news-sponsored orgies of faux outrage are simply a continuation of the 2008 campaign’s insistence that Obama was a socialist Muslim terrorist born in Kenya and out to plunder the US treasury and turn the US of A into a Caliphate.

Not sure that Fox News was a sponsor? Go here; ignore Olberman but watch the Fox compliation. Priceless. And here’s my quote of the day on this topic:

[T]he teabaggers are full-throated about their goals: they want to give President Obama a strong tongue-lashing, and lick government spending — spending they did not oppose when they were under Presidents Bush and Reagan. They oppose Mr. Obama’s tax rates, which will be lower for most of them, and they oppose the tax increases Mr. Obama is imposing on the rich, whose taxes will skyrocket to a rate about ten percent less than it was under Reagan. That’s teabagging in a nutshell…

I have lots to say about lots of things but can’t muster the energy after work at the new job. I’ll aim for the weekend. Sorry to under-perform here this month, but transitioning to a whole new life is a challenge.

Update: Excellent update and great perspective on these pseudo events by a smart China blogger.

______________

Richard Burger is the author of Behind the Red Door: Sex in China, an exploration of China's sexual revolution and its clash with traditional Chinese values.

The Discussion: 18 Comments

“ignore Olberman”…. lol never!

This whole tea party thing is not nearly as big a movement here in the states as Fox would have you believe. Actually its very refreshing to hear some of the neocons I work with talk about Fox as if it were a becoming a joke to even them.

Malkin in the trio??? haha, come on man, she’s about as powerful and relevant as Coulter nowadays. I’d have gone with Glenn Beck in that spot, he seems to be the rising star in the nutty world of conservative journalism.

April 15, 2009 @ 11:38 pm | Comment

Check “teabagging” in Urban dictionary.

April 16, 2009 @ 12:01 am | Comment

I was about to say…it’s realllly hard to take a “movement” seriously when they start with “teabagging.”

April 16, 2009 @ 3:14 am | Comment

You missed another anniversary, one which carried real significance for me at the time (even though I was only 8 years old) but which I had barely even thought about since then until the last few days. I guess it doesn’t really register over in the US, but 20 years ago was one of the saddest days in modern British history, and one you’ll see mentioned on most European websites/newspapers today.

On the 15th of April 1989 96 Liverpool football club fans were crushed to death at Hillsborough football stadium whilst the police stood by idle, having funnelled them into a enclosed stand which was far too small to hold their number. Another 766 were injured, many of them permanently disabled – one remains in a coma.

The disaster was not caused by hooliganism, but at least partly by defensive tactics designed to guard against it. Even when the fans in the enclosures called out to the police to help them get out, even when some of them were obviously blue with asphyxiation and already dead or dying, the police assumed that they were rioting and in some instances tried to force the fans back into the crush. The enclosures themselves were designed not to protect the fans, but to confine them so as to prevent disruption of matches.

Why am I mentioning this? Well, not only did it happen in the same year as another event where people died in a senseless fashion (although Hillsborough involved no malice, and involved fewer deaths), but it also involved a disgraceful cover-up, and many of the family and friends of those killed feel that justice has yet to be done. As well as this, we also have the disgraceful example of The Sun newspaper, which printed stories accusing the Liverpool fans of behaviour which they had no supporting evidence for, and which played on insulting stereotypes about the people of Liverpool (i.e., that Liverpudlians are violent, lazy, and thieving).

However, it also gives a great example as to how people in a democratic and free society can respond to such adversity. The campaign to re-open the inquest into the disaster is stronger than ever, the journalists who worked on the article in the Sun have now been totally disproved through a free flow of information, and, rather than stifling discussion, a survey of today’s websites and newspapers will show a lively debate about what happened.

Today I saw something which made me particularly proud, and glad that I live in a free society in which people can speak their minds: the government minister for sport came to the memorial ceremony at Anfield (Liverpool’s home stadium), and mid-way through apologising for Gordon Brown’s absence, was silenced by 30,000 people chanting “Justice for the 96″. In to many countries it is those in power who terrorise their audience into a silent obedience, but here was a government minister gobsmacked to hear that some people at least were not satisfied with empty words.

Here’s probably the best article I’ve read on the Hillsborough tragedy:

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/sport/football/article6083159.ece

April 16, 2009 @ 6:37 am | Comment

FOARP, I definitely remember that story, though I admit that I (and probably most other Americans) had no idea of the date it occurred. What is it about the Ides of April?

April 16, 2009 @ 7:55 am | Comment

Hopfrog, Olberman simply rubs me the wrong way. I thought it was so cool when he came out strong against the Iraq war and against Bush, and then he deteriorated into a schtick, not as demagogic as Hannity but just as predictable and theatrical, all full of himself and reeking of intolerance. And I’m a pretty liberal guy. I much prefer Raddow.

April 16, 2009 @ 7:59 am | Comment

How tongue in cheek of MSNBC! Anderson Cooper would never have been able to pull it all off with a straight face on CNN.

April 16, 2009 @ 8:00 am | Comment

[Forrest Gump on Tax Day]

“God Damnit, Momma! Who put the shit in my Chocolate Box!”

Momma: “Forrest, that’s not a Chocolate Box. It never was…..
I was just FxxxCK’n wicha ’cause you’re so damn stupid!”

April 16, 2009 @ 10:09 am | Comment

“As Americans prepared to pay their taxes Wednesday, a new report shows that the Obama administration’s request from congress for an increase in war funding for Iraq and Afghanistan exceeds the spending of the previous administration.

With an estimated 7.6 billion hours spent complying with tax filing requirements and the worst economic situation since the Great Depression, many have called into question how the government spends their hard-earned money, especially in controversial wars that have dragged on for years.”

April 16, 2009 @ 10:56 am | Comment

@Richard – No worries, I certainly didn’t remember until I read about it in the newspaper, and didn’t really think about it until I read some of the interviews with the survivors. Whilst of an almost totally different character, Hillsborough has interesting parallels to other events whose anniversary falls this year, and that’s why I mentioned it.

Another interesting parallel can be drawn between the unifying of the American far-right (and let’s face it, whilst I’m sure some of them are genuine libertarians, a hell of a lot more of them seem to be people with racist and paranoid agendas) in these ‘Tea parties’ and Chinese ultranationalists under Anti-CNN. The same conspiracy theories, the same ‘grassroots’ organisation, the same level of what can only be described as mysticism, and the same use of what they think of as patriotism to bash the opposition seems to animate both ‘movements’.

April 16, 2009 @ 1:59 pm | Comment

“…whilst I’m sure some of them are genuine libertarians, a hell of a lot more of them seem to be people with racist and paranoid agendas) in these ‘Tea parties’….”

This comment is a disgraceful attempt to smear legitimate political opposition as racist because the President is black.

Here’s a legitimate (April 13th, 2009) comment expressing outrage at the ongoing corruption in the Obama administration:

“Something similar may be said in regard to revelations last week of White House economic advisor Larry Summers’ connection with a number of hedge funds shoveling millions into his deep pockets for showing up once a week to cheerlead their “innovations” — not to mention his shadowy visits to the Goldman Sachs gravy train even after he signed onto the Obama campaign. As long as the stock markets seem to rally — no matter what else is really going on in America — nobody will pay much attention to these disgusting irregularities.”

http://www.kunstler.com/

April 16, 2009 @ 2:19 pm | Comment

I remember that incident at Hillsborough. Over here in the states I remember it being reported with a slant that ran along the lines of (paraphrase) ‘those hooligans were so out of control they were crushing each other to death like a pack of animals’. Unfortunately over here in the states, international news is usually forgotten in a week and the real story behind the incident never got the exposure it deserved.

Richard, if Limbaugh is the ultimate idealogue for the conservatives then I suppose Olbermann is ours. After so many years of trying to be diplomatic in my political discussions with conservatives, I have given up any hope of ever talking sense into any of them. Personally I prefer them getting hit over the head with a hammer nowadays and being held accountable for all the misinformation that is being spread by their ‘commentators’. Keith’s behavior may border on the same style of boorish namecalling so popular on the other side, but at least he sticks to the facts, and quite frankly I think they need someone giving them a taste of their own medicine. A strong two pary system is a good thing, except when one side has gone completely out of their heads.

April 16, 2009 @ 3:30 pm | Comment

Thang, I love that last quote. To me this is the real problem. beauracracy has run so amuck in our corporations and governments, worldwide, that there is no accountability and its become the norm to “innovate” when it comes to financial reporting. The friggin SEC wasn’t even aware of a Ponzi scheme that had been going on for decades. I work at Caesars in Las Vegas, a company that could have been bought and paid for decades ago. It is now 36 billion in debt because our CEO and his hedgefund buddies bought a bunch of stock cheap, waited for the price to get ridiculously high by publicizing an imminent buyout, then thought it was in the company’s best interest to go private, so they put it into massive debt so that it could buyout…. hmmm… their stocks. So now the company is in massive debt and our 401(k) is no longer matched, pay raises have been frozen, and each deparment now has to do their own janitorial work because departments are so short staffed due to layoffs. Oh, and a week before getting word of the pay freeze, our CEO filed (as required by law) his 2008 total compensation…. $39 million USD. The working class is getting robbed and its becoming global standard operating procedure.

April 16, 2009 @ 3:48 pm | Comment

Hopfrog, I agree with your view that they need a taste of theirown medicine, but Olberman is a liability for us. He makes it too easy to justify the stereotype of a hysterical, angry left. While we know we have every right to be hysterical and angry – in fact, you have to wonder at anyone who wasn’t angry and hysterical over the Bush calamity – I think we need to take the high road and give them less ammunition.

April 16, 2009 @ 3:54 pm | Comment

@Hopfrog – Actually, the initial slant in the UK wasn’t that different, but only The Sun had to go that extra step and play on people’s expectations with an unsourced story, the truth only gradually came out. More to the point, much of the disinformation from the police (the fans were drunk, the numbers were unexpected, there was a conspiracy to crowd the entrance to allow people to get in without a ticket etc.) has only gradually been disproved. That’s why anniversaries are so important, as they give people a chance to re-visit the opinions that they formed at the time and test them against the information uncovered in the meantime. If they do not, their opinion remains trapped in the past.

The circumstances surrounding the other event whose 20th anniversary falls this year are even less well known, even more crowded by disinformation, and there has been no open discussion of it within the country where it happened. It took more than thirty years, and a revolution, for the truth about the Budapest uprising of 1956 to become widely acknowledged. There is at least hope that the truth about what happened 20 years ago this June will be better understood in the country in which they occurred by the time the 30th anniversary is reached.

April 16, 2009 @ 5:39 pm | Comment

Thang, nobody really is suggesting that the tea party movement as a whole is racist, just that what began as an anti-government spending protest promoted mainly by libertarians has evolved into a general anti-Obama movement uniting a variety of different groups.

Also, for a bit of perspective: 3,000 women in Kabul bravely withstood taunts and threats of violence to march in opposition to a draconian law further reducing their rights in Afghani society. When I read that 3,000 people gathered in DC to express a variety of loosely-related grievances against Obama, I just shrug.

April 17, 2009 @ 11:15 am | Comment

Matt,

You wrote: “Thang, nobody really is suggesting that the tea party movement as a whole is racist….”

That’s not what was said:

“…whilst I’m sure some of them are genuine libertarians, a hell of a lot more of them seem to be people with racist and paranoid agendas) in these ‘Tea parties’….”

April 17, 2009 @ 2:47 pm | Comment

The thing that gets me is how easily brainwashed half of the US is. These working class people are out there carrying signs about how they are sick of being taxed and I hear it all the time from the conservatives at work (whom I always have to correct spelling and grammatical mistakes for. It’s always the conservatives in no small coincidence).

My taxes haven’t gone up, their taxes haven’t gone up. They complain about the CEO making so much money, and how they’re broke, yet it’s his taxes that they are worried about. I certainly don’t see him trickling down any of his wealth. Even after the Obama tax plan goes into effect, the CEO will still be paying 10% less in taxes than he would have under Reagan.

A lot of these people simply don’t have the ability to see the big picture. Fox just has to run a few stories about the government wanting to take away their guns or about gays getting married and they are on board for everything else. They don’t comprehend that their news channel with its constant waving of the American flag is owned by a rich Australian promoting his own agenda. Imagine the outcry from these people if CNN was owned by a rich man from China or Japan.

Richard, I felt exactly as you stated for so many years. That we need to take the high road. I don’t think we need to take the low road, but I am no longer worried about providing them with ammunition, they will only manufacture it anyways. For me the best strategy is to expose their ignorance and marginalize them. I thought, surely after the last 8 years and where it’s got us, these people will see the light. Some never will, but so many are really starting to see the folly and walk away. I can only hope MSNBC’s ratings continue to climb.

April 17, 2009 @ 3:54 pm | Comment

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.