Today’s Boston Globe carries a front page article on a person named Mark Williams, who is the chairman of the Tea Party Express, the group that recently completed a nationwide tour whose theme was the uninformed whine, “We want our country back!”
Reporter Peter Schworm notes in his opening paragraph that “Mark Williams has thrust himself onto the national stage with fiery, polarizing rhetoric…”
Indeed he has. Some of Mr. Williams fieriness:
- President Obama is a communist bent on undermining the Constitution
- President Obama is like Joseph Stalin and Cambodian genocidist Pol Pot
- President Obama is an “Indonesian Muslim turned welfare thug”
- President Obama is the “racist in chief”
- President Jimmy Carter is a “slithering worm of a man” who “longs for an oven of fresh baked Jews”
- He claimed it is “even money” Mr. Obama was born outside America, and that public documents indicate that Mr. Obama is foreign-born and Muslim
- He said “[Obama] doesn’t like Americans and he treats us like garbage.”
Williams cannot, of course, back up any of these claims. They are, on their face, laughable, and if the rhetoric that Williams spews is completely dismissive of fact and truth, the man himself is neither laughable nor easily dismissed. He is simply another manifestation of what’s wrong with America today.
But for the fun of it…
Mr. Obama is no more a communist than Ronald Reagan, though Reagan did incalculably more harm to this country than all the communist regimes together ever managed. As for undermining the Constitution, George W. Bush and Richard Cheney were the ones who conducted illegal wiretapping on millions of American citizens; who started and conducted an illegal war; who suspended the Constitutional guarantee of habeas corpus; who knowingly imprisoned hundreds, if not thousands, of innocent men; who approved and encouraged illegal torture; who corrupted the Department of Justice and the system of justice in America; and so on. Perhaps someone should remind Mr. Williams that Bush and Cheney were, and are, closer to Mr. Williams’ beliefs than is Mr. Obama.
Joseph Stalin and Pol Pot were nothing like Mr. Obama. The Russian and the Cambodian murdered millions. Each killed their opposition. Each essentially destroyed their countries and their culture. Mr. Obama has made serious and strenuous and unsuccessful efforts to work with the Republican opposition. Stalin and Pol Pot would simply have killed them. Mr. Obama has sought to improve conditions in the United States, economically, politically, and socially. It can be argued whether he has done the right things or the effective things, but he has sought to improve American society, not destroy it.
Mr. Obama can not be shown to be Indonesian, nor Muslim, nor on welfare, nor a thug. If Mr. Williams cares to produce verifiable proof of any of these claims, he should do so. Mr. Obama has proven that he is American, that he was born in Hawaii; that he is and has been a practicing Christian his whole adult life; that he is not only not on welfare but has made considerable money through applying his intelligence and his hard work in his political and literary efforts; that he is not a thug in any sense that Mr. Williams might apply. In fact, the only thuggishness evident is that of Mr. Williams’ claims, lies, and epithets hurled like rocks and stones and sticks.
As for Mr. Obama being the “racist in chief”, the only apparently credible racism would seem to be that belonging to Mr. Williams, who has made unfounded claims and vile statements, all utterly lacking in credibility and truth, about a black President. If Mr. Williams’ claims are false, then he has no cause to complain or attack Mr. Obama, leaving The Lion to speculate that Mr. Williams is outraged solely because the President of the United States is not a white man like Mr. Williams. That would make Mr. Williams the racist-in-chief of the Tea Party Express.
The rest of Mr. Williams’ claims in the Globe article can be similarly and easily dismissed. The Lion does note that the claim against Mr. Carter is particularly vile and demonstrates not only ignorance of the entire situation in the Middle East, but also demeans the Holocaust, demeans every Jew on the planet, and demeans a man who sincerely tried to bring peace to that region. Mr. Williams would appear to offer nothing useful or helpful in the matter, but apparently extends his racism to Arabs, since he castigates Mr. Carter’s support for Arab leaders as the reason he vilifies the former President.
Mr. Williams, of course, presents himself as a speaker of truth wishing to protect the country from some evil that he can only define by lies and distortions. He fails to see himself as not only a symptom of the nation’s ailments, but also a cause.
But Williams, a conservative talk radio host, author, and frequent guest on cable news, said he is only “speaking the truth’’ and describes himself as a “true conservative’’ who is fighting to protect the country from slipping into statism.
“I refuse to cater to the lowest common denominator,’’ he said. “We need to restore our constitutional balance.’’
So he says. In fact he appeals to the lowest, to the most ignorant, the most fearful, the least likely to examine critically his proclamations, and the most likely to heed his words and carry them out to their logical extremity, the application of violence to the political process.
And The Lion doubts whether Mr. Williams can meaningfully define what he means by ‘constitutional balance’. The Constitution is not a static matter, no matter how hard the conservatives and the Tea Partiers try to define it that way. It is a dynamic process, not merely a document sealed in a vault. It is a process by which a people seek to find the best possible way of governing themselves. Mr. Williams would appear to not understand that.
He apparently does not even understand the nature of his appeals to the lowest:
In response to criticism, including some from within Tea Party ranks, that his rhetoric could hurt the movement’s credibility, Williams is unapologetic, saying his opinions represent one set in a political uprising that “is the antithesis of groupthink.’’
The Tea Party is nothing if not the epitome of groupthink. They have nothing to offer the country but their fear and their slogans of fear. They have no programs. They have no viable ideas. They appear to have little understanding of history, particularly the history of the country they claim they want returned to them, as if someone stole it and cast them into the wilderness. The wilderness is of their own making, and they seem to want to clear-cut it and then clear-cut the United States itself. That is all evidenced by their acceptance of voices like Mr. Williams and his co-conspirators in the vicious slandering of the legitimate attempts of the majority of the American people to come to sound agreements on the best way to govern themselves. Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Michelle Malkin, and the rest of their sorry kind are Mr. Williams’ political bedmates, and they form an echo chamber of groupthink of the worst kind, the kind informed by its own ignorance, its refusal to deal in facts, its inability to offer any useful or productive ideas, instead putting its own burnt, screeching offerings of ego, greed, and lust for power onto the altar of senseless fear.
The Tea Partiers claim, of course, that Mr. Williams virulent claims do not represent them or their goals. Yet Mr. Williams remains in a leadership position. He is not disavowed by the Tea Party. He is not the subject of any movement to demote him. He is, in fact, applauded whenever and wherever he appears before the Tea Party faithful. And any attempts to distance him from the Tea Party come across as lukewarm at best.
“He says some things that are definitely inflammatory, but I think the comments of one person are just that, and don’t reflect the feelings of the whole group,’’ said Jennifer Nassour, chairwoman of the Massachusetts Republican party.
No, Ms. Nassour. He is the chairman of the Tea Party Express. He is not just one person. He is a leader and he is applauded for his vile remarks.
“Those are show business people, putting on a traveling road show,’’ Christen Varley, president of the Greater Boston Tea Party, said of the Tea Party Express personalities. “We are a nonprofit, public policy group. That’s not our mission.’’
Ms. Varley would have us believe that Mr. Williams’ violent rhetoric, lies, and distortions, are just show biz and nothing more, airily dismissing Mr. Williams as little more than a burlesque fleabagger. But again, no, Ms. Varley: Mr. Williams is a leader within the Tea Party. He dispenses hatred and bigotry, and gives encouragement to those who would do violence to the American political process. You do not get to pass him off as a harmless crank, Ms. Varley. He is one of yours and you are complicit in everything he says while he represents your Tea Party.
Chip Ford, of Citizens for Limited Taxation, knew Williams in the 1980s through their mutual friend Jerry Williams, but hadn’t seen him in the intervening years, until last week. He attributed Williams’s fiery comments to the pressures of his profession.
“If you’re a boring talk show host, you won’t be one for long,’’ he said. “You have to keep the pot stirred. He’s a promoter, that’s all.’’
And again, the ease with which so-called conservatives dismiss the lies and vilification that Mr. Williams and his kind vomit onto America every day speaks volumes of those on the right wing of American politics. It’s all just show biz, they would have us believe. Hatred is just show biz. Lying is just show biz. Bigotry is just show biz.
When someone is assassinated by a Tea Partier, or by a fellow traveler unhinged by the rhetoric of Mr. Williams and his fellow propagandists, will that be ‘just show biz’?
When bricks are thrown at legislators, is that ‘just show biz’?
When Congressmen are spat on and called niggers, is that ‘just show biz’?
No. That’s not show biz. Those are the core values promoted by Mr. Williams and his friends. Those are values people act on. Those are the values of the lowest elements of political society, the element to whom Mr. Williams appeals when he speaks.
The Tea Party and Mr. Williams may scream that they want their country back, but what is true about the country they think they want back is that it is ugly, brutal, and as far as possible from the America the rest of the nation is trying to get to through civil discourse and civic engagement.
Indeed, it is Mr. Williams and his ilk who are closer to Joseph Stalin and Pol Pot and the other boogeymen of the right-wing mind. Mr. Williams and his kind are so steeped in their violence, their ignorance, their sheer viciousness, that they are blind to themselves and blind to the America the rest of Americans seek to live in and to improve.
It may be ‘just show biz’ to the right-wing of American politics. To everyone else, it’s real neighborhoods filled with real people struggling to live in and understand and improve the United States of America. Their voices need to be heard, not the voice of Mr. Williams, not the voice he uses as Chairman of the Tea Party Express, not the voice he uses to tear down and destroy America.