Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Of Two Minds

Jason Levin is working to undo the Tea Party from the inside out, by making them appear crazier than they are.

I'm not sure that's possible, but I think it would be fun to find out. Perhaps one needs to dress and act like a Tea Party person, and carry a video camera with one all the time, just to find out what they're really like.

Anyway, Mr. Levin has created a group called Crash The Tea Party, and says he has 66 affiliated groups around the country, ready to do battle, simply by exaggeration. Join them, show up at meetings, and become more insane than the folks who are protesting. He suggested in an interview that if you see someone in a Nazi uniform with a misspelled sign, that might be one of his. If they're throwing a rock, that won't be one of his. The message board has already been taken over by a bunch of right-wing angry folks, and Mr. Levin has received threats. So, a minor success.

This reminds me of the famous "Ladies Against Women", a protest group that would show up at Phyllis Schlafly rallies in the 80s, and scream things like "You're no one until you're Mrs. Someone." Or "Procreation, not recreation." The best part is, the other folks at these rallies agreed with them.

So, can we use humor against the humorless? Or at least the humor impaired? It apparently worked against Fred Phelps and the Westboro Baptist ministry (the "God Hates Fags" group - brilliantly parodied on this little website). Someone essentially showed up to one of these protests and waved placards that had more ridiculous rhetoric ("I Have A Sign" on a big pink placard), and the real folks dried up and blew away. I think to be truly effective you have to be able to do this wherever these nutjobs show up, and that might be logistically difficult. And why would Westboro Baptist protest "Fiddler on the Roof"?

While I think this has the potential for all kinds of wonderfulness, I also wonder about giving them more airtime than they currently deserve. It's not as if there isn't enough evidence that these folks come off as a bit unhinged, but by doing these little counter-protests (and worse still, telling everyone you're doing it) gives them the ammo to say, "well, look the Liberal Elite thinks we're stupid, and is plotting our downfall." I mean, what a recruitment pitch. "We were the underdogs, but now they're coming after us, we're actually persecuted!" Not sure that will decrease their ranks.
On the other hand, I'd love to see the kind of signs that might sprout up.

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