Monday, October 19, 2009

Tea Parties' "Old" Arguments are Timeless

Commentary by Tom Mannis - Chicago News Bench (CNB) I received a stunningly ignorant comment from "Sam" on Sunday. He thinks that the Tea Party "movement" is ineffective because it is pushing "old tired arguments that just don't work anymore." Poor, dumb Sam. He's wrong, but he's also right - for reasons he does not understand. "Interesting photos. Looks like about 50 people," wrote Sam (it was more like 250 people), "I'm struck by the references to Obama, socialism, communism, etc. Many of the people who engaged in civil rights protests in the early 1960s were tagged as communists and socialists by the white establishment power structure who were against integration. Funny, how standing up against segregation got a lot of people tagged as socialists and communists. It seems to me that many supporters of this "tea party movement" bring little or nothing new to the table, and have to trot out old tired arguments that just don't work anymore. Sam is right in one small way: The arguments are indeed old. In fact, the Tea Party movment's argument for freedom from tyranny is ancient, from the old Greeks and before. But Sam is wrong when he says they are "tired." Sam's notion that being "old" invalidates an idea, or argument or philosophy as "tired" is fundamentally flawed. There are many examples that easily prove this. The belief that murder is wrong, for one, predates known history, but is still universally outlawed. Would Sam argue that laws against stealing are "old" and therefore "tired," meant to be tossed into the "Thing That Don't Work Anymore" trash bin? Everything ages and becomes old, but some things have no expiration date. The human desire for freedom is one of those. One such thing is the argument for freedom from tyranny. After you sift through all the slogans about healthcare "reform," taxes, bailouts and so on, you're left with the essence of the Tea Party "argument," and that is the demand for less government interference in everything from corporate boardrooms to your medicine cabinet. It is the demand for freedom, a demand that is older than ancient Greece. It is a demand that is millenia old. It is the argument around which the Tea Parties orbit. It is older than human memory, yet is desperately screamed out by hundreds of millions of souls around the world everyday. It is older even than humans. Put any animal in a cage and it will scratch itself bloody trying to free itself. "Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death" When Patrick Henry, on March 23, 1775, made his most famous "Give me liberty or give me death" speech to the Continental Congress, the argument he made was ancient. Still, it spurred the First American Revolution. Today, it powers the Second American Revolution, which is being driven by the Tea Partiers. Sam thinks that the "tired" and "old" arguments for freedom "just don't work today." Sam seems content to just give in and let the Government run his life. Not me, not most of you, and certainly not the Tea Partiers. Sam and his Fellow Travelers never seem to be able to admit that Karl Marx, a dead old white man, espoused theories that were old centuries before Marx was born. Marx died in 1883. In 2009, his arguments could be fairly called "old." Although I vehemently disagree with Marx, I am not naive enough to call Marxism "tired," because the reality is that that there are many who clamor for it. That said, it should be noted that far many more millions of people risk their lives and sometimes leave their fortunes to seek freedom from tyranny. The essential argument being made by the Tea Parties, one against tyranny and for freedom, still works. It still motivates. It is what drove people to happily rip apart the Berlin Wall, to stand in front of tanks in Tiananmen Square in Beijing, to ride rafts from Cuba to Florida. Sam wrote that "the white establishment power structure who were against integration." I'm certain he meant Republicans, but there he is wrong again. The power, in the 1960s, was in the hands of the Democrats. In 1966, when the first black person was elected to the U.S. Senate (Edward W. Brooke, a Republican of Massachusetts), everyone in both houses of Congress was white. Many were opposed to civil rights, and most of those opposed were Democrats. It is a fact that some of the people in the civil rights movement of the 1960's were actually communists or socialists. "As the 1960s saw a resurgence of political activity, especially on the Civil Rights front, the [Communist Party] began lending support to groups like CORE and NAACP, both of which had made their way to Seattle and Washington State to help solve the problems of segregation and racism." (Source: Harry Bridges Center for Labor Studies at the University of Washington) The fact that communists supported civil rights does not invalidate that cause, of course, but it puts the lie to Sam's implication that communists were not involved with in the civil rights fight. The vast majority of Americans who were supportive of civil rights, of course, were neither communist nor socialist. What Sam seems unaware of is that many of those civil rights soldiers were Republican white kids from Republican families above the Mason-Dixon Line. The Republicans have always been, to the surprise of many public school graduates, in the forefront of civil rights. Republicans, not Democrats, have initiated most of the significant federal civil rights legislation in the United States. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 could not have been passed if not for the Republicans in Congress. With their persistent support, President Lyndon Johnson (a Democrat) was able to fight his own party to win its passage. Here are the numbers: The Congressional Quarterly of June 26, 1964 (p. 1323) recorded that, in the Senate, only 69% of Democrats (46 for, 21 against) voted for the Civil Rights Act as compared to 82% of Republicans (27 for, 6 against). All southern Democratic senators voted against the Act. This includes the current senator from West Virginia and former KKK member Robert C. Bryd and former Tennessee senator Al Gore, Sr. (the father of Bradley's Democratic opponent). Surely young Bradley must have flunked his internship because ostensibly he did not learn that the Act's primary opposition came from the southern Democrats' 74-day filibuster. In addition, he did not know that 21 is over three times as much as six, otherwise he would have become - according to the logic of his statement - a Republican. In the House of Representatives, 61% of Democrats (152 for, 96 against) voted for the Civil Rights Act; 92 of the 103 southern Democrats voted against it. Among Republicans, 80% (138 for, 34 against) voted for it. (Source) In 1965, Lyndon Johnson sent federal troops to Alabama to ensure school integration. That is often talked about on television and in every public school in America. What you don't often hear about, however, is the fact that Eisenhower supported the 1957 Civil Rights Act. Sadly, however, "the final act became a much watered done affair due to the lack of support among the Democrats. The Senate leader, Lyndon Baines Johnson, was a Democrat, and he realised [sic] that the bill and its journey through Congress, could tear apart his party as it had right wing Southern senators in it and liberal west coast ones." (Source) In the same year, Eisenhower sent federal troops to Arkansas to protect nine black students, as they entered the newly integrated Central High School in Little Rock, Ark. "The Little Rock Nine have become icons of the modern civil rights movement; President Eisenhower has not. How is it that, at the same time we honor and celebrate the dignity and heroism of the Little Rock Nine, we overlook or - even worse - forget Eisenhower's role in this historic event? In "A Matter of Justice" David A. Nichols aims to redress this state of affairs, indicating through the double entendre of his title not only the timeliness of the struggle for civil rights during this pivotal decade, but also the need for a more searching and just appraisal of Eisenhower's legacy." (Source) Why is Eisenhower's role in that event overlooked? Simple. Liberal teachers, leftist news media and the ignorant people produced by their misinformation either purposely omit this good accomplishment by a Republican, or simply don't know about it. Eisenhower the Republican did not stop his civil rights efforts in 1957. Three years later, Eisenhower introduced the 1960 Civil Rights Act. This, too, is overlooked. The 1960 Civil Rights Act was Eisenhower's response "to a violent outbreak of bombings against churches and schools in the South. Though Eisenhower is not automatically linked to the civil rights issue, his contribution, including the 1957 Act, is important as it pushed the whole civil rights issue into the White House." (Source) The Eisenhower civil rights initiatives took place years before Martin Luther King, Jr. was a national force or Lyndon Johnson became president, and years before the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which was passed in spite of Democrat efforts to defeat it. Democrats in 2009 are still very excited to have elected the first (half) black man to the presidency, but the Republican Party has a better record for putting black people in major positions. If Sam would open his eyes, he would see that the ideas he calls "old" and "tired" are still fresh. They still invigorate. If they didn't, and if he was right, then two million Tea Partiers would not have marched on Washington recently. If he was right, the Tea Party "movement" would not have been born, the USSR would not have crumbled, and we would not be having this discussion. Photos (c) T.H. Mannis, taken at the Chicago "Silent NO More Tea Party" on October 17, 2009. Conservative Caps, Shirt and more! Leave a Comment - Chicago News Bench RSS Feed Visit us on Twitter!