I support the premises of the Tea Party movement. That is, constitutionally limited government, free markets, and fiscal responsibility. Though I did not share my misgivings widely last fall, I did wonder privately how long it would take for the movement to be compromised by the dense and hateful.
Two things are happening, I think. One is that the liberal press has finally figured out how to make the Tea Party look bad by cherry-picking stories. That was to be expected and no doubt contributes to the impression that something is going wrong with the TPers. The surprising thing is that it took them a while to figure out how to do it. They assumed from the outset that merely showing people demanding their rights would result in the public’s prima facie rejection of the movement as nutso. It didn’t work.
Now, unfortunately, the press is getting some gifts from the, ahem, less tightly-wrapped elements in our quest. The other day, there was a call from Tea Party Nation leader Judson Phillips to “disband” the Methodist Church. In fairness to Phillips, he actually said that he hopes they “go out of business.” They are, to Phillips way of thinking, the religious arm of socialism.
That’s what I get for being away from organized religion for this long. When I was growing up, Methodists were Baptists who could read. From that to Marxism in a few years. Who’d have thunk it? (Don’t be offended if you are a Methodist. It’s only a joke. If you are a Baptist, you can’t be offended unless someone reads this to you. Hmmmm…I guess that last sentence was unnecessary.)
Phillips has every right to wish for the demise of any organization he chooses, the Methodist Church included. As far as I can tell, he did not advocate making it illegal or fire-bombing churches. So what is his offense? Well, there is no way to put this delicately. The Tea Party does not need dumb asses.
If we are to reclaim this nation, we absolutely, positively must be decent human beings in the process. This does not mean being namby-pamby about our views. I have my days too, those where it is much easier to gig liberals than to offer something substantive. Most of the time, I resist though, and so should you.
We must stay focused on freedom for everyone–political freedom, religious freedom, and economic freedom, not hatefulness. We must steer away from issues that are red-hot for us but have little to do with public life. We must work ceaselessly for a world in which every man and every woman lives life on his/her own terms, not the directives of the state. We must use our minds well and keep our hearts warm. Let us have no truck with hateful simpletons.