Rightbloggers: Don't You Dare Laugh At Our Teabagging!
Last weekend The Volokh Conspiracy did a three-part series on "the Nazification of the Bush Administration," recalling, TigerHawk said, the "tastelessness, shrillness, and sheer unhinged insanity" of liberals who called Bush a fascist. "As Obama Derangement Syndrome and condemnation thereof rise in frequency, intensity, and duration," said TigerHawk, "...the right would do well to stay well above the standard set by the left in the last eight years."
Good idea. Calling Obama a fascist remains a popular rightblogger signaling device, fun for the punters but counterproductive in getting their cause back into the mainstream. On Sunday, for example, we found "ACORN and their legal arm the ACLU are the standing army and general prosecuters of the upcoming Obama fascist state" (Bite me Obama!), "fascist pigeon-holing of Obama's internal political enemies as potential terrorists" (Land of the Free), "fascist-driven economy" (Taxes in Obama's Bizarro World), "Obama Refuses To Dis Fellow Socialist Facist [sic] Ortega" (The Canadian Sentinel), etc. And this doesn't include the hordes of commenters who step up when their hosts neglect to use to F-word ("Locking Republicans out of the Stimullus deliberations was FASCIST, pure and simple") -- nor the mainstream conservatives who have picked up the unfortunate habit ("You've got to be careful using the term 'economic fascism' in the right way," said Newt Gingrich, "so it doesn't come off as extreme").
So at the rightblogger high-end, we're seeing some gentle pushback. You could see the effect in the recent spate of tea parties promoted by them (among others). Though many of the spear-carriers waved signs about "socialism" and "teabagging" (about which more in a minute), and a few speakers went off-message, the organizers largely put an ix-nay on the ascism-fay heard in earlier exercises, focusing on the story that the Administration spends and taxes too much and the tea partiers were there to "Take Our Country Back" -- presumably from the majority of Americans who voted for Obama and seem still to approve of his Presidency. It's a clever way to shift the tone of the movement from rightblog lunacy to Howard Jarvis populism, and we'll see what that does for them.
Meantime the tea parties themselves remain blog fodder, and though pleased with the high turnout, rightbloggers sought to ensure that nothing distracted from their achievement. So when they found some people laughing at them, they insisted, loudly, that there they weren't funny -- which, as often happens in such cases, made them funnier still.
Several unsympathetic sources had some fun with the "teabagging" nomenclature adopted by the movement in its early days. Though there is an obvious trail of participants using the unfortunately ambiguous term -- even the impeccably right-wing Atlas Shrugged proudly referred to her compatriots as "Teabag Patriots" -- rightbloggers rose as one to denounce the inappropriate laughter at themselves.
Some affected shock at the term's sexual definition. "As decency prevents a clinical explanation of the term," sniffed NewsBusters, "curious readers not in the know should check the Urban Dictionary with an objectionable content forewarning." Try not to gag! Fox News was surprisingly more upfront: "Teabagging, for those who don't live in a frat house," they told no doubt astonished readers, "refers to a sexual act involving part of the male genitalia and a second person's face or mouth."
"'Teabagging' -- a sex act," marveled the heretofore enthusiastic teabagger Atlas Shrugged. "You learn something new from the leftwing media everyday." But she proved a quick study. "To understand tea-bagging," she told her readers, "imagine the dunking motion of a tea bag when making tea. Now instead of a cup, picture someone's mouth, and instead of a tea bag, picture testicles." The internet is a wonderful medium for sharing information, or for oversharing it.
These worthies remained neutral on the value of teabagging, non-protest style, but RedState's Warner Todd Huston was disapproving, calling the practice "immoral, immature and perverted," in contrast to the moral, mature and wholesome sex acts performed by conservatives.
That liberals even think of that teabagging, Huston declared, showed just how corrupt they are. "As it happens, when talking to an engaged, informed, and patriotic American," he explained, "when a tea party is discussed the images of Boston Harbor, taxes and American history immediately come to mind." If you are reminded instead of little girls serving imaginary hot beverages to their dolls, apparently you come up short patriot-wise, but are still better than those sexed-up liberals, for whom "no thought of America can be found. But sexual perversions are aplenty."
The Next Right decried humor itself as a socialist ruse. They quoted "Rule number 5 of Saul Alinsky's 1971 Rules for Radicals... 'Ridicule is man's most potent weapon. It's hard to counterattack ridicule, and it infuriates the opposition, which then reacts to your advantage.'" Then they got infuriated and reacted to their opponents' advantage.
"They are retreating to ridicule because it is a strategy of desperation," sputtered Next Right, and insisted it wouldn't work: "People are coalescing around real principles again. And when you get down to people's fundamental believes, ridicule won't get you very far. It's like trying to attack someone's religion." If you find the idea of a teabagging religion funny, of course, you are double-Alinskyite, and the Next Right may have to come back and yell at you some more.
Some essayed humor of their own. "MSM is way off base here," said the Jawa Report, "ghey terrorist supporters are teabaggers, ask Samir Khan aka Inshallahshaheed, Joey Cohen aka Yousef al-Khattab, Alex Stewart aka Al X or the worst teabagger abu Abdullah As-sayf."
At Big Hollywood, Greg Gutfield complained about Anderson Cooper's vaguely smutty joke, then tried one of his own: "Whatever gets you off on a Wednesday night, Anderson, when nothing else will." Now that's funny, because it was delivered by a Patriot.
To quell the laughter, some went to extremes. Warner Todd Huston returned to consider the post-tea-party path of patriots. "It may seem ominous, but violence is sometimes acceptable depending on the cause," he said.
"Of course we should avoid violence during these protests today," he added. "I am for sure not advocating a resort to violence. But if elections and the democratic process fail to impress government officials against their habits where does that leave future protests?... Government officials also must take heed before their arrogance leads us all down that road that we do not want to travel."
Five months after Obama's election, Huston is already looking ahead to a time when "elections and the democratic process fail to impress government officials" and thinking about the role violence might play.
Well, that's one way to stop people from laughing at him. But he may not be pleased at the reaction he gets instead.