Right-wing extremists. The Tea Party (along with other conservative groups and individuals) have been given this label by the government and various liberals. However, if one should examine the various right-wing extremists, and then look over the various conservative groups, he or she will notice that the groups in both categories are quite different. Let’s start off by taking a look at several far right elements and incidents surrounding them.
In my previous article (and in a subsequent comment), I mentioned how some Mormons embrace polygamy. One particular example is Warren Jeffs, who ran Colorado City, Arizona (and its twin city Hilldale, Utah) with an iron fist before he skipped town and wound up being arrested. Jeffs not only embraced polygamy, he also carried out the practice of both arranged and forced marriages (so much for free will). In fact, child marriages were not uncommon. He would even dissolve marriages over any slip-up by a married man (e.g. dissent, disobedience) and hand the ex-wife to another man. And it is believed he still has control over what goes on in Colorado City and Hilldale despite being arrested and convicted for child molestation.
The authorities handled the situation cautiously, because they did not want a repeat of the Branch Davidian raid of 1993 in Waco, Texas. David Koresh was the perpetrator, and a false prophet like Warren Jeffs (he also had a messiah complex). Koresh embraced polygamy, and is said to have molested children. And like Jeffs, he ruled the Branch Davidians with an iron fist. Unfortunately, the authorities made a series of blunders in handling the Branch Davidians, thus resulting in 83 deaths.
The events in Waco motivated Timothy McVeigh to set off a bomb at a federal building in Oklahoma City. McVeigh was also motivated by another botched raid- Ruby Ridge (in which three people died). Such a raid was the result of government blunders regarding Randy Weaver (who became a survivalist due to his wife considering herself a prophet).
McVeigh’s actions brought the militia movement into the spotlight, but at the same time resulted in its peak, for it would decline in the aftermath of the Oklahoma City bombing. It should be noted that McVeigh was also motivated by the Turner Diaries (written by a white supremacist). Some even claim he was aided by agents of Saddam Hussein’s regime as an attempted diversion (i.e. keep the United States Government focused on the American people, thus allowing America’s enemies to pursue their own agendas). And America’s enemies did take advantage of the situation (e.g. Al Qaeda’s pre-9/11 actions).
As previously mentioned, McVeigh had read the Turner Diaries, written by white supremacist William Pierce (using the pseudonym Andrew MacDonald). White supremacists had affiliations with the militia movement, while some religious extremists have embraced white supremacy.
Olympic park bomber Eric Rudolph is a case in point. He became a copycat of Timothy McVeigh, choosing the 1996 Summer Olympics to draw attention (and gain support) to his cause (just like Black September did at the 1972 Summer Olympics). However, with the memories of the Oklahoma City bombing still on everyone’s minds, Rudolph did not get the support he hoped for. Meanwhile, white supremacists groups have been in decline.
So, how is one able to compare the Tea Party (and other conservative groups) with the far right? When one examines the Tea Party, he or she will learn that it is a political movement. It has relied on the ballot instead of bombs and bullets to achieve its goals, which consist of fiscal responsibility, free markets, limited government, and abiding by the Constitution. Thus, it has relied on intellectual ammunition instead of calling for violence.
Prejudices of any size, shape, or form are not advocated at all (which is why David Duke’s political success has been minimal). And if the Tea Party is extremist, then why has it been such a force in politics (despite some people writing it off)? I should also point that not only has the Tea Party continued to grow across America, but also the world (Tea Parties are now located in thirty other countries).
In conclusion, the Tea Party (and other conservative groups) have had more impact on America than any element of the far right.
Image: Courtesy of: http://www.flickr.com/photos/edgrant/3446562663/