Tea Party or Know-Nothing Party

Anyone with an ounce of compassion or half a brain who witnessed the last two GOP debates has to be wondering what is happening in American society. The acid test of all Republican candidates was a repudiation of science (“no” to evolution, “no” to climate change). This is disturbing enough in a world where scientific innovation is the vehicle for economic prosperity, but what about the repudiation of such fundamental American Values as justice and compassion? When asked about the record number of executions in Texas, including the execution of innocent men, not only did Gov. Perry defend the slaughter, the audience cheered it! In the most recent debate, when asked if an uninsured man should be refused medical treatment and left to die, members of the audience shouted out “yes” and others cheered.

GOP events are being swamped by Tea baggers, errrr, Tea Party activists and to understand them, one need only look back into history.  The Know-Nothing party was a political party formed in the 1850s in response to the perception that immigration was threatening jobs and the fabric of American society. It was covertly funded by wealthy families who had an economic and political interest in maintaining the status quo and fueled by fear and conspiracy theories (e.g. the Pope was seeking to take over the government by flooding the country with Irish). They were called “know-nothings” even though they were officially the “American Republican Party” because when confronted about their secretive nature or violent attacks of immigrants, they responded “I know nothing”. However, over the years the label “know nothings” has come to reflect the judgment of history on their policies and beliefs.

The Tea Party began as an anti-immigrant, anti-government political movement funded by billionaires during a time of economic uncertainty, just as the original Know-Nothings were. Just as the predecessors were, the Tea Party is energized by fear and conspiracies (Obama is a Muslim, is not American, immigrants are threatening the fabric of American society, etc) and is anti-Muslim, if not anti-Christian, in its nature. The difference is that because of the media-political complex, their importance has been greatly exaggerated and their views moderated to seem main-stream. The fact that virtually all of the leading GOP candidates are pandering to their anti-science and anti-immigrant and Hobbesian bigotry,  is disturbing, even if it is insincere (except of course Perry and Bachman who appear to be genuinely bigoted).

One more historical fact: the rise of the Know-Nothings marked the end of the existing two party system of the time (the destruction of the Whigs).  Is this the end of the GOP as well?

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3 Responses to Tea Party or Know-Nothing Party

  1. InYourFaceNewYorker says:

    Oh, boy, where do I start?

    First of all, Rick Perry is an idiot. Recently he compared himself to Galileo because he disagreed with scientists. This ignorant and ridiculous man tried to make himself look like a pioneer by not agreeing with science, not because he himself is a scientist (not that he’d have the brains for it) who found new evidence, but just because he DISAGREES WITH MAINSTREAM SCIENCE! As a commenter on YouTube pointed out, in Galileo’s time Perry would be one of the people persecuting Galileo in the name of the Church™.

    “The acid test of all Republican candidates was a repudiation of science (“no” to evolution, “no” to climate change).”

    So what else is new? Isn’t it ironic that the same people who don’t accept evolution because they think it will lead to social Darwinism are among the biggest social Darwinists out there? If you don’t have enough money to live, you don’t deserve it. Idiots. Also, evolution is so important to understand. Nothing in biology or psychology makes sense without it. Also, why the hell can you get through medical school without learning about evolution? I wouldn’t want a young-Earth creationist, someone with such a warped concept of reality, to be my doctor and have my life in his/her hands! I’m tired of this respect that religion thinks it’s entitled to. I’m not going to respect someone’s rejection of evolution just because their religion depends on it. I don’t respect someone’s superstitious and mythological beliefs preventing them from understanding the real world. Religion poisons everything.

    “When asked about the record number of executions in Texas, including the execution of innocent men, not only did Gov. Perry defend the slaughter, the audience cheered it! In the most recent debate, when asked if an uninsured man should be refused medical treatment and left to die, members of the audience shouted out “yes” and others cheered.”

    What is this, a lynch mob? And I bet the same idiots thought Dr. Kevorkian was a murderer. You can kill prisoners, including innocent ones, and cheer, but you can’t put a suffering person out of his/her misery because Life™ is a gift from God. And people without insurance can be allowed to die but suffering people should be kept alive at all costs. And I bet these same idiots would think that Dr. Kevorkian’s suggestion that condemned murderers (and terminally ill people who wish to die) be allowed a choice to donate organs and undergo experimentation under heavy anesthesia just before death is barbaric. I’m not sure how I feel about the death penalty, although as a teenager I was vehemently for it, a gross anomaly in my liberal streak. I do want to know why other Western countries can do without it. I think using it as a form of revenge is stupid and accomplishes nothing. The only reason it should ever be used, if at all, is to prevent serial killers– like the BTK– from getting out of jail and murdering again.

    “Just as the predecessors were, the Tea Party is energized by fear and conspiracies (Obama is a Muslim, is not American, immigrants are threatening the fabric of American society, etc) and is anti-Muslim, if not anti-Christian, in its nature.”

    I just finished reading a book called The Believing Brain by Michael Shermer. It’s about how we construct beliefs and reinforce them as truths, and it examines conspiracy theories. We are pattern-seeking animals by nature, and this ultimately leads to superstition, belief in conspiracies, and more. Also, you say, “anti-Muslim” and “anti-Christian.” Do you mean “anti-Islam” and “anti-Christianity” or “anti-Muslim” and “anti-Christian?” Those are two different things. One is anti-belief system, the other is anti-individuals following those beliefs. I am anti-religion but not necessarily anti-people-who-follow-religion. You can respect people’s beliefs but not respect them as individuals. Likewise, you can disrespect people’s beliefs but respect them as individuals. Take your pick

    Incidentally, not to be a pain-in-the-ass New Yorker (a bit redundant?) but I noticed a number of comments I left over the past three months are still “awaiting moderation.” Is that a glitch in the system or does that mean some were rejected?

    Julie

  2. The Tea Party folks, as a rule,

    Endorse making ignorance “cool,”

    Eschewing reliance

    Upon modern science.

    Alas!  It’s a very old school.

  3. InYourFaceNewYorker says:

    @Joey, have you been reading “glimmerIQs?”

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