Jewish World Review Oct 7, 2011 / 9 Tishrei, 5772
Sorting Out the Extremists
By Jonah Goldberg
"My political goal," Phillips says, "is to overthrow the government."
Note: That's not some random nut job pulled from his
Now, he's not advocating violence or dictatorship. No, he just wants the government to work on the same non-hierarchical, consensus-based, extremely deliberative form of direct democracy that they're using down in
An even bigger mystery is what these people want. There are many demands floating around, but the only official list isn't of demands at all but of wide-ranging grievances. Grievances about the "system," if not about carbon-based life itself, are the one unifying sentiment to this movement.
Some of those grievances are entirely valid, even bipartisan. Conservatives have been complaining about bailouts for "too big to fail" institutions for several years now. It's how to remedy those grievances where the debate lies.
For instance, among the more popular demands is debt forgiveness -- for everything from student loans to, well, everything.
A widely circulated "proposed list of demands" calls for "Immediate across the board debt forgiveness for all. Debt forgiveness of sovereign debt, commercial loans, home mortgages, home equity loans, credit card debt, student loans and personal loans now! All debt must be stricken from the 'Books.'"
Even if you break the crazy pill in half and simply talk about forgiving all mortgages and consumer credit, we're still probably talking about the utter destruction of the global financial system. U.S. mortgage debt alone is roughly equal to our entire GDP.
The reason I bring this up is that I think this is extreme.
"Extreme" is a funny word these days. It's often used by mainstream news outlets to describe the tea parties and the tea-party-friendly caucus in the
For instance, when those hotheads in tricorn hats were trying to get the government to borrow slightly less than
Senate Majority Leader
Meanwhile, the sock-headed spokesman for the protesters wants to "overthrow the government."
And yet, if you peruse NexisLexis, you'll be hard pressed to find anyone calling him or his more radical confreres "extremists."
You also won't hear them being called racists, even though the
Another criticism of the tea parties has been that they are an "astroturf" organization funded by the nefarious Koch Brothers and other right-wing groups. And there's some truth to that. Conservative groups -- opposed to
We are now seeing the same thing with Big Labor and the progressive wing of the
Why the double standard? The short answer is that what counts as the political center in this country still leans considerably to the left. These young, scruffy, utopian, urban protesters are what rebels are supposed to look and sound like.
The tea partiers, meanwhile, are scarier because they're effective and because they challenge the preconceived notions of what American protest is supposed to look like. I mean, what's with those tricorn hats for Pete's sake?
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