The Big Question: Was the Tea Party right to oust faction leader?
Bernie Quigley, Pundits Blog Contributor, said:
Yes. Tea Party represents a new cultural life force in the United States that is best understood as a temperament. Anyone who expects to define or speak to it now will only limit it. The issues are primarily states rights. This is a door that is open that will not be closed. Generally, what can be seen today in Tea Party discussion can be found five years back in Libertarian web sites. It is standard polemic for liberal popular front demagogues to denounce new ideas as racist, sexist – there are always crack pots in new movements. Just the same, if there is going to be a public persona for this group, they will have to find people better with language.
Justin Raimondo, editorial director of Antiwar.com, said:
I’m afraid that the mainstream media just doesn’t get it — and why am I not surprised? Neither the “Tea Party Express,” nor the “Tea Party Federation” represents anyone but themselves. There is no real, organized “tea party” movement on a national scale: there are only local autonomous groups. So the significance of all this escapes me.
Bruce E. Gronbeck, professor of Political Communication at the University of Iowa, said:
Right now, the Tea Party movement reminds me of the New Left in the ’60s. Both start as strong, even spectacular, bottom-up grass roots movements. Both garner attention, point with pride to some of their impacts on institutional politics, and then figure that they might actually be able to move a political party to the kind of actions they want to see. And so they try to go indoors politically. Remember that Robert Kennedy’s ’68 presidential campaign tried hard to make Saul Alinsky and other veteran street-politics organizers into functioning parts of his campaign organization. In-fighting occurred on almost a daily basis. Incorporating Tea Party activists into mainstream party work and campaigns today will create similar problems.
The case of Mark Williams shows us one of the kinds of fall-out from mixing street-based and institutional consultant-based politics. Purges. Attempts to straighten up and fly right (or left). The GOP is trying to seize the reins of government, while the Tea Party appeal is strongly anti-government. The Republicans are trying to build a political ediface that many in the movement want to burn down. Both the party and the movement are trying to purify the other. The 2010 electoral process will continue to be very, very interesting to citizen-spectators.
Frank Askin, professor of law at Rutgers University, said:
They were certainly right to denounce and repudiate him. Whether “dismiss” was the proper remedy was for them to decide. I am not sure they have a formal card-carrying membership, so I do not know what it is to “dismiss” someone.
John F. McManus, president of The John Birch Society.
From what I have read about the Tea Party, it is not a centrally directed movement. If someone chooses to expel someone else in the movement, I wonder where the authority to do so springs from. If the “Tea Party federation” has such clout, they have used it wisely in the case of Mark Williams.
As for the letter sent out by Mr. Williams, all that can be said is that he needs a leash put on him by someone. Sadly, his pitiful and offensive attempt at humor will be used by others to disparage the entire Tea Party movement.
It is a bit ironic, to say the least, that the NAACP, a group formed for promoting a single race, has raised the charge of racism. All organizations, associations, groups, or what-have-you that focus on race should be given no place in America. All of us are supposed to be “Americans,” and the sooner we get back to thinking that way, the better our nation will be – from sea to shining sea.
Hal Lewis, professor of Physics at UC Santa Barbara, said:
No. They stupidly overreacted to a completely ignorable complaint from NAACP. He made a crude joke, and that was all. He didn’t advocate anything illegal, and if he was insensitive, too many people are too damned sensitive. The implications are deeper: the country no longer defends freedom of speech if anyone, anyone at all, is offended by it. In the past, everyone lived with ethnic jokes—they were part of our culture—but we’ve now degraded to the point that we’re afraid to express honestly held views, lest it drive someone into a hissy fit.