It is not okay to tackle a woman to the ground and step on her head just because you don't like her politics. The tea party sees tyranny everywhere and practices it on others. This is how real, actual, not-imaginary fascism comes to America.
Our ugly election season has seen militia-linked security goons handcuff reporters, biker gangs intimidate campaign workers, poll observers "hovering" over brown-skinned voters, minority "voter caging" efforts, citizens arrested for challenging incumbents, RedStaters finding excuse to use racist slurs against the president, and now a scene we might call American Tea Party History X.
But there's a cure for the viral insanity: people like Lauren Valle, the MoveOn.org activist brutalized by Rand Paul's county coordinator. Her courage is in the best traditions of progressive activism, which is not just an answer to the tea party but the antidote. More after the jump and a very important video...
Tim Profitt, Rand Paul's contributor and endorser, (sort of) apologized yesterday but blamed police "for not stepping in to calm down the crowd and argued that other supporters had previously warned authorities about" the dangerously-wigged Valle, who had already noted eliminationist rhetoric confronting her:
I have been at a bunch of events before, the previous debate, and the Rand Paul campaign knows me and they have expressed their distastes for my work before. What happened last night was that about five minutes before Rand Paul's car arrived they identified me and my partner, Alex, who was with me. They surrounded me. There was five of them. They motioned to each other and got behind me. My partner Alex heard them say 'We are here to do crowd control we might have to take someone out.'
Profitt later told WKYT that Valle owed him an apology. All of this is okay, of course, if you're Rush Limbaugh. Glenn Beck has also demonized MoveOn.org. The tea party has been steeped in the propaganda of paranoid politics, especially the Philadelphia New Black Panthers nontroversy, for so long that adherents feel entirely justified harassing, intimidating, and even assaulting people as election day approaches. Because FOX News receives no sanction from the rest of major media, its role in creating this political climate only grows.
The tea party has attempted to define itself as a human rights movement, and FOX News has made great efforts to enable this image. But in fact what they endorse is bigotry. The southern strategy, Maddow noted last week, is alive and well. It now goes by the name "political incorrectness," of course, and makes a great pretense of diversity; but it is the same ugliness of yesteryear repackaged as tea. Organizers have attempted to imitate progressive activism (many are fond of saying the name "Saul Alinsky" as if they have read his book), but the fact no tea party has ever involved civil disobedience speaks volumes.
In some respects, Appalachia Rising is exactly what Glenn Beck has been trying to create: a largely white, Christian, Red State movement. The difference, however, is that his issues are mostly imaginary while mountaintop removal mining is hideously real. That pattern holds true for the entire gamut of progressive and liberal causes. Progressive protest is also far more creative than the tea party has been; it has to be, as nonviolence precludes other options.
Valle carried a sign. Profitt found that sign so dangerous he had to curb-stomp her. Herein lies the difference -- and the way forward.