Ask me what I am thankful for this year, and one of the first things that comes to mind is the social/political phenomenon of the Tea Party.
To me, it represents a loud “enough is enough” — not only to the nonsense being perpetrated by the White House and the Congress, but also to the bad ideas that have infused our public policy for decades.
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If we are lucky, the Tea Party will be around long enough to accomplish a fundamental reorientation of public attitudes toward government, education, and the media.
The biggest loser in the mid-term elections, where the Tea Party demonstrated its clout, was the mainstream media. With the exception of Fox News, all the major news networks and many newspapers failed to take the Tea Party seriously and cooperated in the failed effort to taint it with racism.
Liberals long ago found the best way to fight conservatives was to avoid ideas and instead ascribe them a despicable motive, preferably racism (the charge of misogyny having lost its steam).
When confronting a Catholic liberal, the motive one is often ascribed is not racism but Republicanism — as if this were the only explanation for why you wouldn’t want Catholic dollars going to community organizations that promote abortion and same-sex marriage.
The subject-motive shift — as we used to call this fallacy in logic class — has become so entrenched in the public mind that very few noticed it, until those in the Tea Party refused to take the bait. They weren’t going to have their objections to government bailouts and Obamacare reduced to their supposed objection to an African-American president.
In fact, the Tea Party represents a post-racial society better than President Obama in the White House. The president and his surrogates have not been very subtle in playing the race card, while the Tea Party refused to cower and cringe when charged with bigotry. They know full well that the racism of their parents is no longer part of the fabric of American society.
This fusion of racial and political attitudes was first accomplished in the academy through the vehicle of “multiculturalism.” It purported to put all cultures and beliefs on equal footing, but in practice it denigrated traditional Western education for its association with male domination (patriarchy), conquest (colonialism), and slavery.
Our nation itself — founded by men and women inspired by Western ideals of freedom and liberty — was placed under the shadow of the multicultural critique. As a result, the patriotic impulse was held suspect until it was revived again — not only by the Tea Party but also by pride in our military efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Government policies have inevitably been shaped by a mixture of politics, race and gender. The 2005 immigration debate was doomed from the beginning, based as it was in the perverse logic of multiculturalism that grants privileges to those who are classified as “excluded” by taking them away from others.
The legislation currently before Congress called the Dream Act is a perfect example. This bill allows children of undocumented immigrants to go to U.S. universities and pay in-state tuition. Some 55,000 youngsters who come each year to the United States illegally as children or who were born here to undocumented immigrant parents would be allowed to go to university after completing high school.
At present, children of illegal immigrants can’t enroll in college even if they attended elementary, middle, and high school in the United States. These potential university students would now compete for enrollment with students who are American citizens.
This aspect of the Dream Act is grossly unjust and makes a complete mockery of any idea of citizenship. The Dream Act grants economic privileges to persons because they are illegal — privileges denied to a legal citizen.
If anyone wonders why there is such a thing as a Tea Party, all they have to do is look at legislation like this. Whether or not the bill is passed, the debate alone will extend the life and influence of the Tea Party — for which I am thankful.
Image: The First Thanksgiving, by Jean Leon Gerome Ferris