Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Tea Party Equals American Taliban?

I'm what the leaders of the Tea Party would call a RINO, Republican In Name Only, and that's ironic because that's what I think of the leaders of the Tea Party.
And that's how Sorkin's Newsroom starts of the second story of it's season finale.  The fictional Will McAvoy then launches into a list of why conservative Republicans aren't Republicans.  Here is that list:
  • Republicans believe in a prohibitive military
  • A common sense government
  • There are social programs enacted in the last half century that work
  • There are way too many, costing way too much, that don't
  • The rule of law and order
  • Free market capitalism
This is how he describes the Tea Party:
  • Loves America, but hates Americans
  • Loving America, but hating its government
  • Anyone who disagrees with the Tea Party has sinister anti-American motives
  • Never seek compromise under any circumstances, or what "Democrats and genuine Republicans" call governing
Oh yeah, lets not for get the "one other plank" of the Tea Party platform, according to Sorkin:
  • If you are poor, you are either too lazy or stupid
McAvoy then wonders allowed, "it's almost a hard to believe that Republicans can't get Dorothy Cooper to vote for them."  He then attempts to refute claims he says the Tea Party makes about America being founded as a Christian nation.

He quotes John Adams in the Treaty of Tripoli:
[T]he Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion -
"And here's Thomas Jefferson," he continues:
- our civil rights have no dependence on our religious opinions -
He then provides viewers with a portion of the first amendment:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion
These McAvoy provides as evidence of a "perversion of history" by the Tea Party.  He then says the biggest enemy of the Tea Party isn't Nancy Pelosi or Harry Reid or Hillary Clinton or Barrack Obama, it's Jesus who he says taught us to "heal the sick, feed the hungry, care for the weakest among us and always pray in private."

Finally, he gives us another rundown of supposed Tea Party characteristics:
  • Ideological purity
  • Compromise as weakness
  • Fundamental belief in scriptural literalism
  • Denying science
  • Unmoved by facts
  • Undeterred by new information
  • Hostile fear of progress
  • Demonization of education
  • A need to control women's bodies
  • Severe xenophobia
  • Tribal mentality
  • Intolerance of dissent
  • Pathological hatred of the US government
He closes with the following:
They can call themselves the Tea Party. They can call themselves  conservatives and they can even call themselves Republicans, though Republicans certainly shouldn’t. But we should call them what they are. The American Taliban.
Now, let's get back to reality.  Here's how Wikipedia describes the movement:
The Tea Party movement is an American political movement that advocates strict adherence to the United States Constitution, reducing U.S. government spending and taxes, and reduction of the U.S. national debt and federal budget deficit.
And here's how the Tea Party is described by the New York Times:
It is, of course, hard to say anything definitive about the Tea Party movement, a loose confederation of groups with no central leadership. But if there is a central theme to its understanding of the Constitution, it is that the nation’s founders knew what they were doing and that their work must be protected.
No matter how many times you read and reread those description you won't find any mention of religion or hatred of anyone.  Yet, that doesn't stop Sorkin from trying to tie those beliefs to the movement, so let's take a look at his claims that America was not founded on Christian beliefs.

What was the Treaty of Tripoli?  It was an agreement between the United States and Tripoli to halt raids by the Barbary pirates on US merchant vessels where they seized cargo and enslaved or ransomed the crew for the benefit of the Islamic Ottoman empire.  The treaty was Adams effort to halt those attacks and protect the safety of American merchants.

So what makes more sense, Adams believed religion had no place in American government or he included language, language objected to by members of his cabinet, to get Muslim governments on board for the peace agreement?  Perhaps an examination of his letters to Jefferson might give us a clue.
"The general principles on which the fathers achieved independence, were ... the general principles of Christianity, in which all those sects were united, and the general principles of English and American liberty, in which all those young men united, and which had united all parties in America, in majorities sufficient to assert and maintain her independence. Now I will avow, that I then believed and now believe that those general principles of Christianity are as eternal and immutable as the existence and attributes of God; and that those principles of liberty are as unalterable as human nature and our terrestrial, mundane system." - John Adams
But what of Thomas Jefferson?  Surely he was a secularist, after all didn't he define the separation of church and state?

Based on one letter and a handful of quotes Jefferson is often falsely accused of separating church and state. Unfortunately, nothing could be further from the truth.  Jefferson's personal seal carried the motto, "Rebellion to Tyrants is Obedience to God."  It might also come as a surprise that Jefferson gave approval for the U.S. capital building to be used as a church and that during his time as president he attended services there regularly.

Jefferson and Adams aren't the only founding fathers the left tries to claim as deists.  Benjamin Franklin is often held out as a prime example.  However, Franklin was a noted Mason.  In order to be a Mason one most profess a belief in a singular higher power and subscribe to one of the major religions, on the book of which their vow is taken.  Franklin's belief in the Christian God is further displayed in his works and statements.

Another founding father, one who is far less known, was Benjamin Rush.  Considered by many to be the father of public education, he advocated the use of the Bible in schools for the purposes of teaching kids to read.  Further more, he requested the US Congress authorize and fund the printing and distribution of Bibles for all Americans.

It should come as no surprise then that Congress authorized and paid for the creation of the Aitken Bible, the first English language bible printed in America.

When McAvoy quotes the Constitution he says, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion," as if that is all there is to the first amendment.  Does he even know the second part of that sentence?  "... or prohibiting the free exercise thereof."

Aaron Sorkin wants you to believe the Tea Party equals the American Taliban.  Well, then what do you call a guy who resorts to fear and lies to try and discredit those he politically disagrees with?  A Democrat.


Anonymous said...

Given the main issue of the day, gay marriage, Sorkin should look into Jefferson's views on homosexuality.

Also given his ethnic background, it is not surprising to see Sorkin attack Christians. What is surprising is watching these same Christians risk our blood and treasure to promote and defend Sorkin's homeland despite his constant attacks against them.

Anonymous said...

Speaking about what the Founders wanted, Sorkin and company should check out the Naturalization Act of 1790.

Anonymous said...

I, for one, applaud the propaganda of Sorkin. I cannot find any exaggeration in the list of Tea Party attributes listed in the last part of the article. I do not recognize the vitriol of Tea Party speakers against moderate Republicans. I would love to watch (in real life) a news cast where facts were presented within their context and different political platforms were presented without sarcasm or blame.

Anonymous said...

You wrote well of the ideas presented by Sorkin in The Newsroom by putting them out there for discussion.

I wish you would address how you believe Sorkin attacked your faith in the other examples of "The American Taliban" you wrote of from the season finale, such as:

Ideological purity
Compromise as weakness
Fundamental belief in scriptural literalism
Denying science
Unmoved by facts
Undeterred by new information
Hostile fear of progress
Demonization of education
A need to control women's bodies
Severe xenophobia
Tribal mentality
Intolerance of dissent
Pathological hatred of the US government,
and finally the quote: Jesus who he says taught us to "heal the sick, feed the hungry, care for the weakest among us and always pray in private."

By only choosing to address the single argument of "The general principles on which the fathers achieved independence, were ... the general principles of Christianity", I am left with a real unclear idea of if the tea party is undermining America or if these claims are patently false.

I mean, never has a Congress in the history of America had such low approval ratings as in this session where the tea party has taken over. Discussion and compromise, tenants of how America has worked since it's inception, have ceased due to tea party influence.

I'm not against any group organizing and making themselves heard, and I'm not against any religion. Call my crazy, but I do believe that if we all shed our fear and ignorance and come together through compromise, we may just come out alright.

Anonymous said...

Apparently, the people who have posted in this thread do far have no actual experience with the Tea Party, and therefore have to base all their comments on wikipedia entries. Given that level of ignorance, I suppose I can understand why they'd be offended by The Newsroom's factual description of how the Tea Party actually behaves.

theKansasCitian said...