Boston bombings, Tea Party, the media, and hypocrisy
A graduate of Denver Seminary and San Jose State University,...
SAN DIEGO, May 4, 2013 — It’s been several weeks since Boston’s Patriot Day nightmare. We have long since learned that the Tsarnaev brothers who set off two bombs were influenced by Jihadist teachings from the Internet and from extremists who sometimes spoke at a Cambridge mosque.
Although we do not yet know as much about the three young men accused of helping them, Azamat Tazhayakov, Dias Kadyrbayev, and Robel Phillipos, nothing so far has suggested that their alleged assistance was motivated by any tea party affiliation. Undoubtedly this is a major disappointment to media pundits and other passionate moralists who express grave concern about the tea party while losing sleep over our country’s unjustified hostile attitude toward Muslims.
Ironically, many of the same people who deliver sanctimonious lectures about not rushing to associate terrorists with Islam will casually offer hints about tea partyers or other “right-wing extremists” as potential culprits whenever a large scale murder is committed.
On Patriots Day, Chris Matthews, always eager to interpret news events before the qualifying news actually arrives, said on Hardball, “You know, I was thinking of all the iconic events, or being told about them today. Of course, I knew it was Tax Day because I got them in. But of course, it’s Patriots Day. It’s also the Boston Marathon. And would you as an expert be thinking domestic at this point? I don’t think Tax Day means a whole lot to the Arab world or Islamic world or the, certainly not to al Qaeda in terms of their world. It doesn’t have any iconic significance.”
Matthews was dropping a rather obvious hint: These bombers were probably tea party participants or at least kindred souls, those who patriotically object to large federal taxes.
Later, when the FBI informed news outlets that the bombs were planted by Muslim terrorists, Mathews talked as if this new information were irrelevant:
“Why is that important? Why is that important to — is that important to prosecuting? I mean, what difference does it make why they did it if they did it? I’m being tough here. But I don’t know whether, when you look at all this evidence …”
Forgive me, Mr. Matthews, but motive seemed very important to you when you thought the bomber might have connections to the tea party.
CNN’s Wolf Blitzer offered a similar guess: “It is a state holiday, in addition to the Boston Marathon. It is a state holiday in Massachusetts today, called Patriots’ Day. And who knows if that had anything at all to do with these twin explosions?”
While Blitzer can claim that technically he was only asking questions, writer David Sirota, of Salon.com was honest and upfront about his feelings: “If you care about everything from stopping war to reducing the defense budget to protecting civil liberties to passing immigration reform, you should hope the bomber was a white domestic terrorist. Why? Because only in that case will privilege work to prevent the Boston attack from potentially undermining progress on those other issues.”
While the above quote does not mention the tea party specifically, Sirota associates the Tea Party primarily with white people seeking to hold on to power. In 2010 he enthusiastically commented on an article from American Prospect:
“The article does a commendable job showing how the Tea Party demographic ― according to polls, predominantly suburban, upper-middle class and white ― has in the past ‘only been able to maintain a sense of their own power by their place at the top of the heap’ and that today a ‘sense of lost privilege is stoking the drive toward (tea partyers’) ethno nationalism.’” (David Sirota, All Roads Lead To White Privileged, 5-5-10)
The Boston attack was not the first act of violence unfairly associated with the tea party or similar “right wing extremism.”
After the Colorado movie theater shooting, ABC News reporter Brian Ross quickly reported that a certain James Holmes, (same name as the theater shooter) was a member of the Colorado Tea Party. Although he admitted up front that they had not yet established this individual as the same James Holmes, and admitted later that the tea party member was indeed a different man, Ross still drew the tea party casually into the discussion of violence like a post hypnotic suggestion.
And who can forget New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, who wrote regarding the 2011 Arizona shooting which killed several people and wounded Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords:
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