By Phil Polizatto,Worldwidehippies – I take a deep breath. I swallow hard. My ears feel like they haven’t popped yet, as if I’ve just arrived by plane and the descent was much too quick. The edges of my ears tingle with the prickling of needles. An army of them march to the top of my skull, where they dissolve beneath my thinning hair. Wave after wave of needles sweep over my brain, the prickling so intense, it becomes an electrocution.
Then the tectonic plates inside my head begin to slide under each other and I wince as a brief jolt is accompanied by a dull thud. I am having an earthquake in my brain. I’d say it’s about a 7.2.
This is what happens to me when I see someone bristling at the words “socialism,” “progressivism,” or anything that might sound like it is for the “greater good of the people.” They bristle with fear and ignorance because they have been manipulated by words and phrases that have no substance. Words and phrases made up by an elite corps of wealthy people with vested interests. They and their ad agencies make up slogans. “Show the birth certificate.” “Obama is a Fascist.” “Take our country back!” What the hell does that really mean? How far back? Pre-toilet paper? Or just pre-Civil Rights?
I look carefully for the theories and philosophies the Tea Partiers put forth which are worthy of debate. And I do mean debate in its purest form, namely, logical debate, in which the arguments derive from an axiom, are free from rhetoric and strategy, and based solely on substantiated facts. I ask Tea Partiers to describe in detail how their political theory and philosophy would be implemented. I am only answered with inanities and name-calling. But the more I drill down on my own to discover the details, the more frightening the Tea Party Platform becomes in its insidiousness. Its well-honed use of double-speak is downright scary. Add to the mix the awful reality of, “Say it often enough and it’s true,” (at least to many brain dead couch potatoes,) and the rhetoric really begins to smell.
I have had little luck finding someone who identifies as a Tea Partier who is willing to talk at length with me and comes with facts in hand. I wanted to find someone who was knowledgeable and could answer my questions in detail and with civility. The few I could find would never provide detailed answers and only ranted the party pabulum. Though I wanted to learn in a very personal manner, I was forced to visit Tea Party and other conservative websites. This really sent me into a spin. I have found four different Tea Party platforms, but they are essentially the same. I researched the demographics of Tea partiers. They are a homogenous group: older, white, male, Republican, more affluent than most, and identify as Christian, many “born again.” The written documents on these sites were interesting and worthy of study. But it was the posts and comments on these same sights that were most revealing. The written documents were created by the elite of the Tea Party. The posts and comments were submitted by, what I can only presume from their language, to be a mob of undereducated, unthinking, nasty, manipulated followers who take all slogans as truth and all mainstream news as gospel. And it was what these gospel-thumping Tea Party followers wrote that was most disturbing.
According to my tally, the most common verb used was “crush,” followed by “shoot” and “kill.” The most common nouns used were “Socialism” and “guns.” Nice, huh?
“Crush the left.” “Crush Socialism.” “Crush Obama’s Fascism!” “Shoot (insert liberal’s name here),” Kill (insert democrat’s name here.)” I didn’t realize Tea Partiers used such violent words. Why? Don’t they know the power of words in this day and age of non-critical thought? We live in a time when one buzz word, one buzz phrase, can incite those who don’t understand the political and economic realities of today to do terrible things. The elite of the party are only playing a Mad Men’s game.
The conservative right has mastered the internet. Beware! There are sites that will teach you how to make a sign and what to put on it. It doesn’t matter that you don’t understand what the words mean, even though they are hateful, misleading, and threatening. Do the elite of the Tea Party not understand that such inflammatory talk may actually lead to violent acts perpetrated by their more ignorant followers? A pumped-up, angry, easily-goaded sap, might actually kill someone? Nah! The elite, with the help of their ad agencies, distort the truth, and let their unsuspecting underlings do the dirty work.
I have seen language like this with my own eyes on social networking sites. I can’t get my brain around the hate and violence. I can’t comprehend such language, such thought, coming from a group of people who identify as Christian. Now get this! Despite Tea Party platform planks to the contrary, a recent Bloomberg Poll showed 70% of Tea Partiers love the Veteran’s Administration (socialism), Social Security (socialism), Medicare (socialism), the Interstate Highway System (socialism), and Yellowstone National Park (socialism.) All of this they like, but they hate Socialism! I am beginning to fall into a spin again.
They have no comeback when I ask them, given their published platforms, how they could NOT be irate over the Supreme Court decision to give corporations the same rights as the individual. You would think this is one area where we can find common ground! They merely yell back, “Capitalism, good! Socialism, bad!” And Tea Partiers are supposedly well-educated? My head spins faster.
I came upon 17 different versions of the Bible! That alone is enough to make the Bible suspect as an authority for anything. But for the sake of intelligent discourse, I felt obliged to get smart. I ask those that claim to take the Bible literally to read this passage:
Acts 4:32 – 37
32 Now the company of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things which he possessed was his own, but they had everything in common. 33 And with great power the apostles gave their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all. 34 There was not a needy person among them, for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the proceeds of what was sold 35 and laid it at the apostles’ feet; and distribution was made to each as any had need. 36 Thus Joseph who was surnamed by the apostles Barnabas (which means, Son of encouragement), a Levite, a native of Cyprus, 37 sold a field which belonged to him, and brought the money and laid it at the apostles’ feet.
Isn’t it clear what Jesus’ intention was? Socialism! Some might even say Communism! This is the beautifully simple Economics of Jesus. This is the basic economic theory Jesus would have his disciples live by. It is an economic theory which seeks to prevent the ill effects that are produced by capitalism – greed, power, and pride, among them. If one wished to live an even more perfect life, he or she would be wise to hear these other words from the “master.”
“If thou wilt be perfect, go sell that which thou hast, and give to the poor.”
“It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.”
“What does it profit them if they gain the whole world, but lose their souls?”
“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
“The least among all you of is the greatest.”
Jesus was the essence of humility, the essence of compassion and fairness. But when I point these things out, the response is to go to another Book in the Bible, usually the Old Testament, which says something that supports the idea of economic Darwinism and definitely embraces capitalism. The passages that they manage to find, but which I can never seem to find, essentially say, “It’s just you’re tough luck if you don’t have the skills and resources to make it to the top. It’s the survival of the fittest and that’s what Capitalism is all about! That’s what the Bible preaches.” So it’s OK for people who don’t believe in evolution to use Darwin’s theories when talking about economics? How ironic is that?
In other words, though we’ve known it all along, one can find almost anything in the Bible to support a preconceived notion, because the Bible is full of it. However, every version of the Bible I have read, quotes Jesus. And if he did say these things, they were really profound. And no Christian Tea Partier will deny these saying of their Lord Jesus. So what is the problem? What is it they do not understand? I, personally, regard Jesus as a very mystical and enlightened being, along with other avatars throughout the ages. But for those fundamentalist Tea Partiers who do a lot of Bible-thumping, how are you able to violate the tenets of your Lord? Uh-oh, my whole head is getting hot!
If you don’t believe in Socialism, don’t. All I ask is for consistency. All I ask is that there be no hypocrisy. Do not call yourself a Christian and support the Tea Party platform at the same time. Deal? It’s the duplicity which gets me, the total disconnect between being a true Christian, of which there are many good ones, and the Tea Party Platform of I, Me, Mine and No! None for you! The only rationale I can come up to explain why any educated person, in this case usually a white male, would support the Tea Party Platform is: “I’ve already got mine and that’s all I care about,” or “I’ve got mine, and I want some more!” It is the rationale of one who does not care about future generations, but only his very short lifetime. It is the rationale of one who does not see the connectedness of all beings. It is the rationale of the greedy. It is the rationale of those who hunger for power, and think they can attain it by playing on the fears of others.
But guess what? I can handle it! If that’s what you want, if that’s what you need, fine! Just don’t go around with the Bible in one hand, and your portfolio of stocks in the other. I just can’t handle the perfidy any longer. I would have thought if you believed in heaven or the rapture or any of the ways the afterlife is portrayed, you would be free of all fears, and want to leave the earth having done the most good for the most people. Isn’t that what Jesus would have wanted? But your actions belie your belief in the teachings of Jesus. You have become so preposterous I am getting dizzier.
A Tea Party blogger edits the video of a speech by Shirley Sherrod and makes her out to be a racist, when in fact she had been the model of compassion and advocacy for a white family and helped save their farm. Yet this edited video and subsequent blogging of Sherrod as a racist led to the piece being picked up by Fox News. Soon after, it was picked up by other stations and went viral. Before anyone even tried to scratch the surface to find the real truth, the Obama Administration fired Sherrod.
If it makes the news it must be true? Even if the mainstream media makes up the news it must be true? Fortunately, someone bothered to view the whole video, and Ms. Sherrod was more than vindicated. Her refusal to slip quietly away into the shadows became a beacon to all, a beacon that reveals the slimy tactics of the Tea Party. The whirlpool calls. I hear its sucking sounds and see it below me, trying to drag me down into its bowels.
I get an email which has been sent by a very left-wing, liberal friend of mine to 50 or so like-minded people. It is a column of photos depicting the exterior and interior of an incredibly beautiful, modern, building. Men are playing fussball, or eating on the balcony off their room. The fitness center is wonderful, the grounds are beautiful. It is a showcase building with all the amenities one could ask for. The words that precede the photos ask you to see how many pics it will take before you can guess what the building is. As you get to the 6th or 7th photo, you realize it is a jail. Then in a huge colorful font, the punch lines that follow the last photo:
Interesting, eh? Except the email was a hoax! It was a picture of a facility in Loeben, Austria! http://www.snopes.com/photos/architecture/prison.asp This is pure sophistry at its finest! How slick we have all become! Are we proud of ourselves?
I am happy to find a few good sites on the internet that debunk emails and other rumors or distortions which go viral and taken as fact by many without further investigation. But then I thought how do I know these sites that debunk are not bunk as well? The moral: Handle with extreme care everything that passes for news. Drill deep. Question authority! Question everything! Question even this article I am writing!
Oh, the whirlpool swirls faster. Just keep looking ahead, and don’t look down. Just keep moving forward. The vertigo is severe. I can only look straight ahead and type and ignore the typos ‘cause if I look down at the keyboard I get dizzy. I fall into a spin. I will fall into the black abyss and struggling to swim out, I sink deeper. If I look up, I fall into the white abyss and it’s no different, just the yin and the yang. So I stare straight ahead and say damn to the typos, full speed ahead, it’s only love that is the truth, only peace that begets peace. Over and over I say them and I ask you to say them, to think them, to act them with me. “Love is the only truth. Peace begets peace.” But don’t say them so many times that they become perfunctory. Say them intentionally! If you can do that, well then, you can never say them enough!
To contact Phil or find out more: check out his website and blog For a copy of HUNGA DUNGA
Phil Polizatto – Worldwide Hippies Bureau Chief – West Coast USA, is a graduate of The School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University. He was a feature writer for the overseas division of UPI, a copywriter for CBS, and an award-winning corporate film producer. Mr. Polizatto is a published poet and a regular contributor to Worldwide Hippies as well as a variety of other arts and literary journals. Hunga Dunga is his first published novel. He resides in the Pacific Northwest.