Media promotes right-wing tea parties

Published on World Socialist Web Site WSWS, By Tom Eley, 17 April 2009.

A series of anti-tax rallies were held across the US on Wednesday, the deadline for filing federal income tax returns. The rallies were heavily promoted and well-publicized by sections of the media in order to divert along reactionary lines the growing popular anger over the government bailout of the financial industry.

Organizers claim that over 700 rallies took place nationally, drawing over 100,000 protesters. Most of the larger rallies numbered in the hundreds, according to media accounts. The largest may have taken place in Michigan, where a crowd estimated at between 3,000 and 5,000 gathered in the state capital, Lansing … 

… In Denver, a protester held a sign that read “Our Soldiers Didn’t Fight and Die for Socialism.” In Boston, protesters held signs reading “DC: District of Communism.” In Orlando, a sign read “Socialism is not Change.”

Prominent Republicans such as Texas Governor Rick Perry, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford addressed a number of rallies. Gingrich and Sanford, along with Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal—who used his office to promote the rallies—are positioning themselves for presidential runs in 2012. In other states, such as Iowa, Minnesota and California, organizers complained that prominent Republicans stayed away.

The media promotion of the “tea parties” shows the far right’s outsized role in US politics. The term “tea party” is meant to invoke the “Boston Tea Party” of 1773, when American colonists dressed as Indians boarded a British merchant ship and tossed its payload, tea, into Boston Harbor as a protest against “taxation without representation.” The Boston Tea Party helped set the stage for the American Revolution, an immensely progressive struggle.

Wednesday’s events, in contrast, were held in the service of political reaction. (full text).

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