The Tea Party Movement: America’s Herderites (or Herderians)

One of the books I’ve been reading this summer is Zeev Sternhell’s The Anti-Enlightenment Tradition  (Yale 2010), and this morning the opening paragraph of chapter 6 (pg. 274) really jumped out at me:

The antirationalist form of modernity, as we have seen throughout this book, stressed all that divides and isolates people, all that is specific to them and unique about them, and opposed all that could unite them. This second modernity also marked the birth of nationalist ideology, and the true founding father of this ideology was [German philosopher and theologian Johann Gottfried] Herder. His direct influence continued to be felt even in the mid-twentieth century. A reading of Herder also raises the great question posed by the two centuries since the French Revolution, which still in our own day remains one of extreme actuality: Is a liberal nationalism conceivable? Can it now, at the beginning of the twenty-first century, become a historical reality? We shall see that the idea of a nation of citizens conceived as a political and not as an ethnic body did not survive the first years of the French Revolution. This political and judicial view of the nation was nipped in the bud by the Herderian revolt against the Enlightenment. It was the Herderian vision of a cultural, ethnic, and linguistic community that was to become the ideal of the nineteenth century and the first half of the twentieth, not that of a community of individuals united by reason, their interests, and the defense of their rights.

Now, why did this paragraph jump out at me? Because it strikingly outlines the American political scene today: the Tea Partiers are (unbeknownst to themselves) Herderites and Barack Obama is an Enlightenment liberal. The Tea Partiers see America as a “cultural, ethnic, and linguistic community” (that is, Christian, white, and English-speaking), and Barack Obama represents those who see America as a political—not a religious or blood and soil—body, and this body is united by:

  • common security and economic interests; and
  • a commitment to universal human reason and rights.

Thus, when you think about it, the Enlightenment v. the Anti-Enlightenment is exactly where contemporary American politics most spectacularly and emotionally divides itself:

  • Shall we allow a mosque to be built near the Twin Towers site?
  • Shall we teach evolution in the science classroom?
  • Shall gays be allowed to marry?
  • Should Obama dismantle the Cheneyite torture regime at Gitmo?
  • Should we crack down on illegal immigration?
  • Should English be the official language of the United States?
  • Should judicial “activism” ever override “We the people”?
  • Is it a triumph of the American vision that a black man rose to the presidency—or is it a symptom of its distortion?

In each of these questions (and one could add many more) there is a conflict of vision over what America is (Enlightenment based v. Anti-Enlightenment based). The American right, however, is not a monolith; it has its Enlightenment-based wing; that is, its pro-free trade, pro-capitalism, libertarian wing based in the ideas of Locke and Mill. But its Herderite-wing is what most animates the base of the Republican party. And it is Herderite politics, we should remember, that brought Germany to the blood and soil nationalist calamity of Adolf Hitler. For the sake of our country, let’s hope that our contemporary Herderites don’t overwhelm the Enlightenment-based politics of liberals and libertarians, for it is the liberals and the libertarians—and not the Tea Party Herderites—who most reflect what is good about America.

———-

Here’s a bit more on Herder from Zeev Sternhell’s book (from pgs. 78 and 79):

Voltaire and Rousseau . . . were . . . Herder’s great enemies. With Another Philosophy of History (1774), another modernity was born and the Christian, antirationalist, and antiuniversalist reaction to the Enlightenment asserted itself for the second time (the first time was with [Giambattista] Vico, who was then unknown). . . . In the pamphlet of 1774, biblical reminiscences and allusions and direct quotations from the Bible abound, the general tone is sermonlike, the style is often apocalyptic, and the apostrophe ‘My brethren’ recurs many times throughout the text. . . . Max Rouche was not wrong in saying that Another Philosophy of History may be regarded as the Apocalypse according to Herder . . . From now on Herder was going to work for a rehabilitation of the Middle Ages and of the historical periods and cultures whose value was disputed by the anti-Christian Enlightenment.

About Santi Tafarella

I teach writing and literature at Antelope Valley College in California.
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74 Responses to The Tea Party Movement: America’s Herderites (or Herderians)

  1. andrewclunn says:

    Let me counter the straw man.

    • santitafarella says:

      Andrew:

      Her observations are predominantly libertarian, but at the 7:45 mark in the above video I think that she displays the tensions between the libertarian and nationalist (Herderian) wings of the conservative movement. My question to you is this: is this woman an exception that proves the rule? In other words, is the Tea Party movement primarily libertarian, and she reflects this, or is it primarily Herderian? I would argue that Herderian energies—religion-based nationalism, patriotism, fear of otherness—are what really get most (white) conservatives salivating. But since you’re closer to the center of this, maybe you have a different take. For the sake of the country, I hope that you are right.

      —Santi

      • Cody Deitz says:

        I’m going to reply in with optimism: I think the majority of educated conservatives are at heart libertarian in nature but unfortunately religion-based scare tactics, nationalism, and the fear of otherness (well put prof.) is far more effective in rallying individuals to a cause than speeches on libertarian philosophy. The people behind the tea party movement understand what gets a crowd riled up. A person who fears that their way of life is being “threatened” by the newly wedded interracial gay couple is much more likely to feel the need to act when compared to the loner libertarian who wishes to be left alone.

      • andrewclunn says:

        The majority of tea-partiers aren’t libertarian, just like the majority of of environmentalists oppose nuclear power for illogical reasons. In any political group the uneducated who re just going along with the general ideas without fully understanding them is always bigger than the informed. No exceptions.

        Fortunately, those people are also easier to inform, as they don’t already hold fully mature political ideologies. The Tea Party is a wonderful mechanism to transform neo-con sympathizers into right-leaning libertarians.

        Probably the best part is the religious effect. Progressives have used a modified version of Christianity (that’s more deistic in nature) to push their political views. The Tea Party transforms people’s view of God into a much more Lockean figure.

        It’s true that this isn’t the high minded Libertarianism you might hope to find, but it is Libertarianism for the masses, and is helping to move the right-wing in the US from a biblical literalism to a principle based faith with freedom as its founding doctrine. The political left may not like either one, but from my view this is an evolution to be grateful for. And who knows, as the political right learns about emergence in order to defend their economic views, maybe they’ll be primed to accept evolution too (it worked for Darwin).

      • santitafarella says:

        Andrew:

        You wrote this: “The Tea Party transforms people’s view of God into a much more Lockean figure.”

        I wish that was the case. I don’t see it. I see an ethnic, nationalist, hyper-patriot, militarist, hyper-fundamentalist backlash against an Enlightenment liberal black president. The Tea Party is less Locke and more Herder. I must say that one of the great questions of American politics is this: are the libertarians riding the Herderians or are the Herderians riding the libertarians? To be blunt, I think you’re being taken for a ride, Andrew. You’re being used as cover for a hyper-nationalist, nativist movement that is Anti-Enlightenment.

        Exhibit A: the Cordoba mosque. Look at the shameless and grotesque opposition to something that the First Ammendment guarantees: freedom of religion and assembly. This is a right that every INDIVIDUAL is guaranteed in the Constitution, and every presidential candidate on the Republican side is rushing to be as collectivist and Herderite as possible on the issue. Gingrich, Pawlenty, Palin—all of them—have shamelessly run to please the Tea Party base on this (which is reflexively Christian nationalist). It is Herderite ideology, not libertarianism or the Enlightenment, that is driving the horse on this issue.

        Exhibit B: Obama is seeking to cut the military to SAVE MONEY somewhere in the budget, and the Tea Partiers are up in arms. When choosing between some rational budget cuts and displays of military loyalty, once again it is Herderite ideology, and not any other ideology, that is dictating the direction of the right in this country.

        —Santi

      • santitafarella says:

        Cody,

        I would suggest that the avg. conservative in the United States is, at heart, a Herderite. I wish this wasn’t the case. What gets a crowd riled up is what’s in the heart.

        When you hear an American Herderite say, “I want to balance the budget,” he doesn’t mean cut the military, he means cut welfare to non-white minorities (which he imagines to be the budget’s “problem”). My guess is that what libertarians imagine as winning a budgetary argument based on principle is, in fact, an argument that is being salivated to based on racial code.

        Herderism will, in my view, always run deeper in the right-wing psyche than, say, libertarianism. And it will do so because one is communal and visceral and the other is individualistic and abstracted (not grounded in local culture, blood, religion, or soil).

        —Santi

      • andrewclunn says:

        santi,

        You think I can’t find similar emotional bullshit from any political group? People aren’t rational. you and I aren’t rational. We can try to be, but we’ll fall short a lot. It’s easy to point out inconsistencies. And you should, and argue with people when you disagree with them.

        But the moment you take it to the next step and say “this group” or “that group” is “insert adjective,” and argue about the abstract concepts that a group represents (especially a decentralized group like the Tea Party) as a means to avoid talking about the specific issues that they are raising, then YOU’RE being fooled by a media narrative. Whether the medium for that narrative is found in a book or a TV screen doesn’t matter.

        Really, you just said that I was being fooled. You took it to a place where it was about me personally, despite the fact that (and correct me here if I’m wrong) I’ve been to a Tea Party rally and you haven’t (two actually). There are limits to armchair philosophy and looking into the minds of people you’ve never met is certainly beyond that limit.

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  3. I’m not very familiar with this.

    I’ve read of Leo Strauss at the Dail Dish blog. Is this Herderite notion related to Strauss?

    • santitafarella says:

      Bruce,

      You ask a very good question. Strauss was Jewish and left Germany to get away from the Nazis, so you would think that Strauss would not be too thrilled about Herderian Christian nationalism, but, in actuality, Strauss has been read as a private Nietzschean who thought that elites should foist certain very Herderian-style truths on the masses (religion, nationalism, militarism etc.). Thus when cynical elites, like the neoconservatives surrounding former president Bush, combine Straussian cynicism with Herderite messages one could say that you’ve got a toxic reactionary combination.

      Andrew Sullivan has argued that Strauss, as a reactionary, should be contrasted with Oakeshott, who embraced the Enlightenment. Sullivan thinks of himself as an Oakeshott conservative, and the National Review ideologues as Straussians.

      I think it is more clarifying to think of the conservative movement as channeling Herder in its Tea Party form and Strauss in its elite form.

      Reading Zeev Sternhell’s book is quite a revelation. Sternhell traces the Anti-Enlightenment, at its inception, to Burke, Herder, and Vico (one a Brit, one a German, and one an Italian). He shows the similarity in their strains of thought and how those strains played out in subsequent European history. I think it’s undeniable that modern conservatives are happy to trace their lineage back to Burke, but Sternhell shows just how close Burke’s arguments are to Herder.

      Herderites, Burkeans, Straussians: they all use their “foot,” in varying degrees, to applying the brakes to the Enlightenment.

      What I find most alarming is that elite conservatives are, at bottom, nihilists who will say literally anything to advance Herderite ideology among the masses. Likewise, the masses themselves are viscerally Herderite. This is a toxic combination. It is exactly the combination that resided, I believe, in Hitler. He was deeply Nietzschean and nihilistic, and he combined this with Herderite blood and soil nationalism. It makes me think that the same stew is being made in the United States today. Let’s pray we don’t see a Great Depression over the next decade or some other catastrophe (atomic terrorist incident?) that might initiate an authoritarian lurch in politics. The groundwork is laid.

      —Santi

  4. Sullivan is where I heard of this.

    It seems like anti muslim sentiment is really boiling now.

    On the New York near WTC mosque, apparently it not that the builders can be shown to be “radical”.

    I think any mosque is unacceptable to the angry mob being spun up.

    • santitafarella says:

      Bruce:

      This whole notion of treating Muslims as collectively guilty for 9/11 is very, very dangerous to a democracy based on treating people as rational individuals with human rights. It violates freedom of peacable assembly, religious conscience, presumptions of innocence etc. etc.

      I really think that we are in danger of losing our country to a creeping authoritarian nativism, and I think of what Bohoffer said about the Nazis:

      “First, they came for the Jews, and I said nothing . . .”

      —Santi

      • concerned christian says:

        Santi
        It’s not fair or wise to treat all Muslims as collectively guilty. But it’s extremely important to understand the background of the different Muslim factions you are dealing with. There are Muslims who put their life on the line to fight the radical highjacking of Islam. But there are certain groups that should be exposed: Muslim brotherhood and Wahhabi’s movements are determined to impose their faith on the whole world and we should not allow them to do that. If you think Christian fundamentalist are dangerous wait till you deal with Muslim fundamentalists. For these people killing ten Christians who come to offer medical aid to Muslims in need is justified.

  5. concerned christian says:

    Here’s a good web page by former Muslims.
    http://formermuslimsunited.americancommunityexchange.org/

    • santitafarella says:

      Concerned:

      A mosque and recreation center a couple of blocks from the former twin tower site is okay, right?

      —Santi

      • Anonymous says:

        http://formermuslimsunited.americancommunityexchange.org/2010/08/10/nonie-darwish-of-former-muslims-united-debates-ny-cair-over-ground-zero-mosque/
        Nonie Darwish is the daughter of a Palestinian hero who was killed by Israel, he was considered a Muslim martyr, she left Islam and in this link she is voicing her opposition to Ground Zero Mosque, debating who else but a CAIR representative. Please pay close attention to what she said, she is putting her life on the line to take such a courageous stand.

      • santitafarella says:

        Anonymous:

        How do you square our American Constitution with your proposal to prevent Muslim Americans from building a house of worship? Please explain (as opposed to providing a link to what someone else might say). I want to hear your reasoning as to why the shredding of the Constitution is necessary in this instance. Do you reject freedom of religion, assembly, and speech? Do you reject property rights? Do you reject the notion that people are to be treated as individuals who are innocent until proven guilty? Do you reject due process and equality under the law?

        These are all things guaranteed in the Bill of Rights. Explain your rationale for denying these rights to Muslim American citizens.

        —Santi

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  10. concerned christian says:

    “Anonymous” whom you are addressing is actually me, I thought that my name will be entered automatically as it happened before and I did not check, until I saw the posting under Anonymous so bear with me a little because we have gone through this argument more than once. Here are three points about Ground Zero Mosque.
    1. Reciprocity: I hope that the Muslim world will have the decency to treat the West the way they demand to be treated in the West but they don’t. While there are no churches allowed in Some countries like Saudi Arabia, while they are destroying Churches in many Muslim countries, and while getting a permit to build or add to a Church in Egypt can take years if it ever get approved, they demand to enjoy all the freedoms in the West without returning the favor.
    2. Limiting subversive teachings: Where do you think that $ 100 million will come from? if not some Wahhabis in Saudi Arabia and the oil rich countries. Do you want that more confused kids “Johnny Talibans” walking into this cultural center and the next thing you hear is a message filled with hate coming from Yemen or Afghanistan telling you that little Johnny got his gun and he is aiming it at us? We should take a close look at who is funding and preaching in these Mosques.
    3. Sensitivity towards 9/11 victims. Finishing this Mosque while WTC is still a hole in the ground is painful for anyone who lost a relative or a friend in 9/11 and I lost five friends on that tragic day.
    4. Rewarding bad behavior: Many Muslims consider building a Mosque in this area is a sign from God showing that God grant them yet another victory over the infidels. You will not hear that from CAIR but this message is dominating the Arab World. If you want I can translate some of them and post here.
    There are more to say about this subject but I will that to a later time

    • santitafarella says:

      Concerned:

      Will you simply tell me, yes or no, whether you would permit the mosque to be built? Would you literally suspend the rights of individual American Muslim citizens, as individuals, denying them equal protection of the laws?

      And if it does get built, would you say that American patriots have the right, with or without the law’s approval, to tear it back down?

      I want to understand what you mean to be done about this if the individual citizens who want to build this are not verbally persuaded out of it.

      As for your 4 points, I’ll take them one at a time:

      1. There will be no reciprocity because these foreign countries are not based on Enlightenment principles; they’re based on theocratic Islam and blood, language and soil nationalism. They are tribal and ethnic cultures. We are trying to avoid that here. And the way we avoid it is to refuse to imitate them or to think of ourselves in similar terms. We are not a mirror tribal culture (Christian v. Muslim). We are a Republic of individuals subjected to appeals to universal human reason and protected by inalienable individual rights. In other words, we treat people here as individuals, not as members of collectives, and we do not put on individuals collective guilt.
      2. You don’t know what message will come into the ears of people entering this center. It may be that they learn how to live in peace with others in the center. It may be a bastion for the evolution of Muslim religious moderation. And terrorist activities can be monitored and managed. You don’t shred the Constitution for safety.
      3. Any 9-11 family member who refuses to make distinctions between Muslim human beings as individuals is abusing his or her suffering and turning it into an excuse for hate. No American should look at a Muslim and attribute to that person collective guilt. It is a hateful indulgence of one’s pain. One must exercise reason as well as emotion in a tragedy, and not become barbarous oneself in response to suffering or injustice.
      4. As to your fourth argument, the jihadist probably think that Muslims in New York are themselves infidels and colloberators. It is the moderation and cooperation of Muslim Americans that infuriates radicals. If people can get along in the heart of America, and assimilate, then America is the stronger entity, not foreign jihadists.

      I would like to suggest a book to you. Have you ever read Voltaire’s “Letters from England”? He has wonderful reflections on what it means to live in an urban area where different people of different religions trade and live in peace with one another (colonial England saw lots of interaction with foreign cultures in London). Anyway, I think that this is the hope of humanity—to live in urban centers together and get along and make each other good and exotic food dishes etc. Half of humanity already lives in cities. And demographically this percentage is rising every decade. Urban culture moderates religion and is the broad trend of humanity. The American Muslim citizens in New York are not your enemy. And the rural fanatics in the hills of Afghanistan are not the future of humanity.

      —Santi

      • concerned christian says:

        Santi,
        From the various postings you made about this subject, I concluded that your stand on Ground Zero Mosque is based on ideology and not facts. You can feel great about you being openminded and accepting to other cultures while ignoring all the atrocities committed by these cultures. In this sense you are like the pacifists who will not fight in a war but will not answer the question of what will happen if everyone suddenly decided to join the pacifists ranks and let Germany or Japan take over the world. In dealing with The Islamic challenge, if you cannot identify the moderate Muslims and work with them to expose and fight the radical Muslims you are doing a great disservice to liberty and human rights, not to mention the future of humanity. And you do that just to feel superior in accepting the world as it is and not challenging evil wherever it is. I know you think that my ideas are evil and should be challenged but believe me you are barking at the wrong tree.

      • santitafarella says:

        Concerned:

        You’re free to psychoanalyze my motive, but does that mean you won’t be giving me straight answers to the questions that I ask of you above?

        —Santi

    • concerned christian says:

      Santi
      Here’s my straight answer. I will try my best to use all the legal options still available to block building this Mosque. If I fail I will let them build it, because ultimately this will be a wake up call for many non-Muslims to see what happens when people do not fight for their beliefs. Radical Muslims may win this battle but I strongly believe that this will be a major turning point in the ongoing clash of civilizations. In that regard building this Mosque will backfire on the hardliners who pushed for it.

      • santitafarella says:

        Concerned:

        Why do you call them hardliners? Maybe these are just professional and urban Muslims who were born in the United States and live in NYC.

        Maybe you don’t know any Muslims personally. I do and have throughout my life. And every semester, because I teach in California, I get Muslims in my college classes. And guess what? Muslims tend to run the gamut of opinions, like everyone else. And with regard to tolerance, the American Muslims I meet tend to be every bit as urbane and relaxed about what other people are doing—“live and let live”—as others.

        What I mean to suggest is that your charicature of American Muslims, on the clash of civilizations model that you’re working with, is a distortion of how most American Muslims, living in towns and cities among us, actually think and behave.

        The notion that American Muslims are uniquely unassimilable to living in American towns and cities (as Germans in the 1930s imagined German Jews unassimable) is wrongheaded. And the notion that the mere declaration of being a Muslim tarnishes you with collective guilt for 9-11 is not just ludicrous, but dangerous to our Bill of Rights.

        This meme that the right is promoting right now—conflating American Muslim individuals with what happened on 9-11—is setting the stage for an American version of Kristallnacht. It’s a very, very dark time in our country. A Herderian nationalist illiberalism is taking hold that genuinely threatens our Enlightenment-based Constitution.

        Have you noticed, for example, that Republicans are seriously floating the idea that the 14th Amendment should be abolished?

        And for what?

        Muslims are never, ever, ever going to be a substantial portion of the American population. Demographers tell us this. As such, Muslims are immenently available to demonstrate how Muslim culture can moderate itself and evolve and assimilate. American Muslims can function as a model of how Muslims can live in peace with non-Muslims IF you and I and other non-Muslim Americans make a moral determination to treat every Muslim we meet with human generosity and as individuals.

        —Santi

      • santitafarella says:

        Concerned:

        You didn’t answer one of my questions directly: would you think it okay for American patriots to deface or attempt to destroy or disrupt (physically) the mosque, either as it is being built, or after it is built? By your logic, Muslims in America are an absolute apocalypse, and so surely you must imagine that different rules of engagement apply to them, whether formally lawful or not. Is that the case?

        What prevents people who share your views from taking the law into their own hands on this? And if they did, would you think them patriots worthy of honor?

        —Santi

  11. concerned christian says:

    Santi
    I will start by answering your silly question about If I think it is okay to deface or attempt to destroy or disrupt the mosque and my answer is NO. When I said try legal actions I meant what I said. Try legal actions, if this does not work let them have their mosque. This is the right thing to do.
    As for me not knowing Muslims, probably you did not read carefully what I said before, I am a Cristian came from a Muslim country, I knew many Muslims and I have seen the changes in Islam. Until 1970, most Muslims were moderates they were not following literally all Islamic teachings, this have drastically changed in the last forty years. The form of Islam preached in many mosques today, even here in America, is derived from the most bigoted and hateful schools of Islam, the Wahhabi and Muslim brotherhood. The results is a new generation of Muslims who want to turn the Whole world to Islam. Ask your Muslim friends what school of Islam they belong to. If they are Sunnis, what do they think about Muslim brotherhood and in particular Sayyed Qutb and Elkaradwii’s ideas. If they are Shi’ahs what they feel about the Iranian system. If you want examples of what Islam in its radical forms means, look at a country like Egypt where today Christians in an Upper Egypt town are forced to pray in a tent for many months now because the Governor of El Mynia will not allow the Bishop to replace an old Church with a new one. In more than one case, Muslims killing Christians are set free by the judicial system because no Muslim should be punished for killing a non-Muslim. As for your Muslim friends, while some of them could be truly moderate, others could be just telling you what they think you want to hear.

    • santitafarella says:

      Concerned:

      You’re putting me in a double bind here. Ask the Muslims I know very particular questions and if they don’t give me an extremist answer I can’t base any information or decisions on it because they “could be just telling you what they think you want to hear.”

      As for my “silly” question: it stems directly from the logic of your apocalyptic assertions. If, as you keep insisting, Islam is uniquely unassimilable to American culture, then how can you have any truck with it? You speak of legal action—doing things in accordance with law—but are advocating a position that would broach the highest law in the United States: the Constitution and its Bill of Rights.

      There is no legal maneuver that can justify the attribution of collective guilt to a group as justification for withholding rights from individuals. And Muslim American citizens, like everyone else, should be treated as complex individuals and not the cartoons that you seem determined to paint them as.

      In other words, your whole position is an advocacy of lawlessness and the laying on individuals “collective guilt.” You can scarcely break the moral law more grotesquely, and you cannot break the highest laws on which the country is founded more blatantly, than to lay on people collective guilt. To my mind, as an American who takes the Bill of Rights seriously (both as a moral and legal document), laying on another human being collective guilt is a pretty big sin: somewhere up in the top five.

      But then you act as if you would never think of breaking the Constitution’s subsidiary laws or engage in basic moral indecency (such as burning down a building). But the very subsidiary laws of property rights (you can’t just burn down a mosque) are based on the higher law you wish to take from Muslim American individuals (freedom of assembly and religion, and innocence in all matters until proven guilty). By advocating what you are you, are burning the mosque down in advance. It’s just a pretty, clean, and tidy way to hide from yourself and others the abominable deed that you are promoting.

      I want Newt Gingrich and those with him (like you) to lose sleep over the horrendous course that you are advocating for our country. I don’t want your conscience to get a free ride on this. It’s not right. It’s a prelude to a lawless American Kristallnacht and you should at least be honest to yourself about it.

      Our Enlightenment based country and Constitution is more than robust enough to tolerate an Islamic Center a couple blocks down from Ground Zero and hidden by taller buildings. Indeed, all Americans ought to embrace the building of this center for precisely this reason: it is a visual affirmation of the nation’s determination to never treat groups of people as collectively guilty for the crimes of a few. An Islamic Center near Ground Zero shows our American determination to stay “America” and not become a Herderian blood and soil religious nationalist country (like so many other countries are). Our country is unique precisely because we are not an organicist nation but a nation of individual citizens—a Republic of individuals with certain inalienable rights.

      —Santi

      • concerned christian says:

        Santi, instead of putting you in a double bind, I am posing modified questions similar to those you stated at the beginning of this thread, so you can discuss them with your Muslim friends. Some of these questions apply to Muslims living here while others relate to what is happening in Islamic countries today. I left them in the same order as yours so you can see the link. After all if you can ask these question to right wing nuts why don’t you pose them to the moderate Muslims, here we go
        Shall we allow churches to be built in Saudi Arabia?
        Shall we teach evolution in the science classroom?
        Shall gays be allowed to marry? Or even more to the point, just how should we treat gays
        Do you agree that thieves should have their arm and leg shopped off, adulterers should be stoned to death, and people who leave Islam should be killed according to “had el redda”?
        Should Saudi Arabia and Gulf states give citizenship to non natives who lived and worked there for many years? How about the sponsor system in Saudi Arabia where foreigners who are legally on work related visas have to surrender their passports to their Saudi sponsor and cannot leave the country without his permission?
        Why we cannot use any language but Arabic in all Islamic prayers? Why the Qur’an translation into any other language is not considered as holy?
        Should judicial rules be determined by the religion of the criminals and victims? Christian killing Muslim get executed, while Muslim killing Christian go free.
        When we will ever have a non-Muslim as a president of a Muslim country?

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  28. Azar says:

    Please provide link to facebook from this site so we can share your comments.

  29. Scott says:

    This is one of the most biased and untrue assertions I have read lately. You’re repeating the same slogans and stereotypes from the media, that all the people who go to tea parties are racists and bigots. Is that what you’re trying to say, Mr. Taffareli? Are you aware of the fact that there are even some Hispanics and black people who support this?

    So let’s get this right. When Liberals and left wing radicals did the same thing in the 1960s, actually with much more violence, they were justified. All their anti-government activism is still considered to this day, legitimate. Now, when Conservatives, independent and Republican, and many middle class Americans are doing the same thing, but with more civility, they are demonized and hated.

    The Tea party movement is bad and unnecessary according to the official propaganda, because it dares to oppose the status-quo and to demand real change, that would benefit the average person, not just the politicians and some special interest groups with their politically correct agenda. They even demand change from Republicans because they are tired of the corruption in the Republican party. That’s not good either?…

    You say Obama is an Enlightement liberal. 🙂 Please, don’t be ridiculous. You’re indulging into the cult of personality of a career politician and for someone with your intelligence, it’s not appropriate. I’m sorry I have to say that.

    He is not even liberal in the real sense of the word. Obama is a Marxist and he’s imposing his ideology on the entire country. He’s got the fools in Congress to pass all the socialist garbage and many of those who voted for him don’t even realize this.

  30. scott american says:

    Yes, it is the most biased and untrue statement I’ve heard lately.

    You claim that people who are angry at the globalization and destruction of America from within, and they are rightly so, are just a bunch of crazy nationalists who don’t have tolerance for other cultures and opinions. This is so far from the truth, and it echoes the propaganda in the mainstream media. I’m surprised you just take this at face value, especially you who claim to be intelligent, open minded and to research a topic before you give your opinion.

    You keep asking concerned Christian if he has met any Muslims and talked to them. Let me ask you: how many Tea party people have you met? Do you know many Tea party Americans? How many Tea parties have you gone to? Then, why do you say they are extremists?!! How do you know that?

    You’re just judging them, us, based on hearsay. And most of that hearsay comes from the left wing propaganda in the media.

    I said Obama is not even a liberal. That’s right. The word “liberal” comes from a Latin word that means freedom. That’s what it means. It doesn’t mean big government, politically correct dictatorship and Marxist economic policies. That’s what the Obama administration is doing. They are not liberal and they are not conservative.

    Here’s another thing. In other posts, you claim that Republicans and American Conservatives are using “fear” to turn people against Obama. If you want to talk about who’s using fear tactics, just look at the Liberal Left. They are the ones using fear tactics by depicting all critics and opponents of Obama and his policies, as racists, Nazis, bigots and all that. People end up thinking that all conservatives are some kind of scary radicals running around. Honestly, how can you believe all that crap?…

    • santitafarella says:

      Scott,

      Yes, I think that a lot of nationalists with authoritarian personalities are exploiting the anxiety of Americans. As for Obama, he’s a Jeffersonian liberal and used to teach Constitutional law. Marxists believe in the dictatorship of the proletariat, not the separation of powers as envisioned in the Constitution. If anything resonates as “Marxist” it’s the one party control of the state that Herderian Tea Partiers long for. Words, when you use them, ought to have some relation to reality. In terms of economic policy, Obama is a Keynsian, but a Keynsian is not a Marxist. And I find the far right in this country generally to have digested both Herderian nationalism and nihilistic postmodernism. They frequently have little regard for dialogue, defining terms, or the truth. I don’t include you in this group because you obviously are looking at the other side of things, which is good.

      And yes, I know Tea Party fans personally. Some of my family members (on my mother’s side) actually attended the so-called conservative Woodstock at Search Light in Nevada last year. Yes, I love them as family, and we all get along famously at holidays (and always have—we’re all very close). I just think they know not what the victory of their movement would mean for the country (think, for example, of the farce that a Sarah Palin presidency would represent).

      —Santi

  31. Scott says:

    It seems to me you don’t realize that the mainstream media and those who call themselves liberal politicians, are doing the exact thing you are describing.
    “I think that a lot of nationalists with authoritarian personalities are exploiting the anxiety of Americans.”

    They are exploiting the anxieties of Americans by using scare tactics with “far Right” and so on. The only radicals on the Right are Nazi skinheads, and they are NOT the ones organizing Tea Parties or protesting in Washington against the Obama administration. The vast majority of people protesting are normal every day people who are tired of lies and corruption in politics. As I said, they also expect reform from the Republicans. That shows they expect real reform.

    The Establishment doesn’t want real reform, they just want phony “change”, the “change” that Obama talked about in his campaign. So it’s using its propaganda machine in the media, mainly CNN and other outlets to counter any challenge to their authority and status-quo.

    It doesn’t mean anything that Barack Obama taught Constitutional law. He and others in politics and law, don’t like the Constitution to begin with. That’s why they try to change the Constitution and to remove the limits imposed on them as politicians and on the federal government. Obama said this in 2001, in a radio interview. “As much as many people may consider the Warren Supreme Court as radical, I think it wasn’t that radical. It did not break free of the essential constraints placed by the Founding Fathers in the Constitution. Generally, the Constitution is a charter of negative liberties. It says what the state governments can’t do to you, what the federal government can’t do to you, but it doesn’t say what the government must do on your behalf”. That’s what Obama said.

    He also said even more recently: “The Constitution is a flawed document”.

    How can you trust a politician who takes an oath of office to defend the Constitution and then he says the Constitution is flawed, and that constitutional constraints need to be removed?? Think about this, between you and your conscience. Can you in good conscience, say this is normal for an American president?

    This is a totalitarian speech. It’s disguised as the government’s intention to “help the people”.

    And “negative liberties” is a Marxist shit term. Along with other Marxist newspeak terms like “redistribution of wealth” and “social justice”. These terms seem normal to you, because they have been around for long and they have become incorporated in our culture. Most people who use them, don’t even question their meaning and influence. It’s something the left wingers have been doing for decades. Infiltrating Western culture with their ideology.

    The Founding Fathers placed those constraints in the Constitution because they knew what it means to be up against a government or monarchy that doesn’t have constraints.

    It is those constraints that keep us free. It is those constraints in the Constitution that prevent the government from taking away free speech, free communication on the internet, property rights, freedom of religion and conscience, and other things.

    However, notice that Obama doesn’t see those constraints as a good thing, he thinks they are negative!

    That’s what’s so dangerous about Obama’s presidency.

    So those “constraints” make Obama uncomfortable because he and other would-be dictators like him, can’t do what they want.

    Let’s face it, Santi. If a Republican president would have used the same arguments regarding the Constitution, you would have been shocked. But when a Democrat is doing the same thing, you ignore it.

    As for me, I oppose it no matter what direction it’s coming from. That’s why I didn’t agree with the Bush administration trying to expand the powers of the government in order to fight terrorism. They said “Give us more power, so we can protect you from terrorism”. They are saying now “Give us more power, so we can help you and end this economic crisis.” Bottom line – the insiders and politicians can use any excuse to
    get more power and to take away our freedoms.

    That’s what you need to see if you are really worried about defending freedom in this country.

    You say that you know Tea Party people among your relatives. So are they fanatical, they are racists, they plan on establishing a theocracy? 🙂 Lol
    Seriously, what makes you think they are “dangerous”? I mean if they are not bitter racists or religious fanatics, what’s your reason for saying they are wrong?

    I still think you’re just judging us, mostly based on hearsay.

    “They frequently have little regard for dialogue, defining terms, or the truth.”

    Please! That’s exactly what the liberal left wing media and pop culture are doing. They can’t stand hearing the other side of the story, they report the other side’s beliefs and statements in a truncated manner or taken out of context and sometimes outright lies.

    You call that dialogue? what dialogue? When the ultra-left wing political elite and their media puppets silence us from the start, and tell everyone that we are bigots, fascists, fear mongers, and treat all our arguments as bigotry, how can we have dialogue???

    “think, for example, of the farce that a Sarah Palin presidency would represent.”

    No more than the farce that a Hillary Clinton presidency would represent”. 🙂

    The Tea Party protests have almost nothing to do with nationalism. If you recall when the Tea Party movement started last year, the people protested because of high taxes. The whole thing was about taxes. The people who attended the Tea Parties across the continent, said they were fed up with additional taxes and government spending. Their motivation had to do with an economic issue, not with “nationalism, soil and blood” as you said. It’s like the time of the American colonies when the British were taxing the colonists and they got tired of it. So why do you insist that this has to do with nationalism?

    I would wish you a Happy Thanksgiving, but I suppose you don’t celebrate Thanksgiving. It’s a holiday that has to do with God and nationalism or patriotism.
    🙂 If you want to be consistent with your views as an agnostic, you shouldn’t celebrate it.

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  35. Scott says:

    Before you cry out “McCarthysm”, just consider this.

    The left wing extremists that Obama associates with, like Bill Ayers and “Rev.” Jeremiah Wright. That shows what his political views are. Tell me, would you be friends with such individuals?… would you take their advice if you were a politician who is supposed to uphold and defend the American constitutional system?

    I know Obama is a Keyneisan, and Keynes was a Fabian Socialist. He was a member of the Fabian society in England, an elite group of Marxist intellectuals. George Bernard Shaw was a member, he admired Stalin. Shaw said this about Stalin in 1938: “Stalin is a first rate Fabian. As a Fabian, I declare my support for the Soviet Union”. When you’ll start doing some research on this, you’ll discover the sinister ties between International Communism and many elite politicians and certain political groups for “social change” here and in Europe.

    So you still think Obama is not a Marxist?

    Go to this link http://newzeal.blogspot.com/2010_12_01_archive.html and see who supports and praises Obama. Some of the worst left wing extremists, including members of the Communist Party. Scroll down until you get to the video called “Ode to Obama”, composed by a Commie. Then scroll down some more and watch a short clip about the connection between Marxism and political correctness.

    This should be enough to shock you. I hope it does shock you. Because I found that most of those who call themselves “progressives” are in a state of denial and ignore the ugly facts when their political heroes are exposed for what they are.

    It’s time to get past the denial phase.

    The statement you made, that Tea Party patriots and other center right wing conservatives want one-party rule is absolutely false. It’s just propaganda. All we want is a return to constitutional limits on the federal government, regardless of who is in office. That’s different from many of the liberals, who love and worship the government when Democrats are in office but they hate it when Republicans are in office. 🙂 Some conservatives do that too, the other way around. I’m not one of them and neither are other people.

    I hope you can look at this objectively and realistically.

    • LOL, wow. All the Kool-Aid is gone.

    • It cracks me up that you call yourselves “Tea Party patriots.” Patriots, really? I find this description to be the perfect illustration of the simultaneous arrogance, misinformation and insecurity of Tea Party (TP) members. You do realize that, by definition, ANYONE who desires to think of themselves as a patriot can call themselves a patriot. Which is why we generally save the term for people who have actually done something. I wonder, did you at least serve in the military? Maybe, then. But calling yourself a Patriot just for being in the TP? What great acts have you performed as a TP .. other than voting Republican, again? Do you think TP have some keen insight into the constitution or American history that is lacked by others? It seems that you are just seeking to set yourself apart and above your fellow Americans, and are doing so in a wholly unjustified way. I ask this of all of the TP members I encounter. How many blog entires did you make slamming the Bush spend while he was in office? I have been a Libertarian for ages, so it amuses the shit out of me to see all these republicans who reclassify themselves as TP who only gained their care of fiscal conservancy when a Dem entered office. this makes me laugh like RINO makes me laugh. For the last 80 years, Republicans have outspent and underperformed Democrats by about every fiscal measure possible. And the Dems are freaking horrible. The SOP for Reps is to spend spend spend.

      Please, if you are going to have the balls to call yourselves patriots, describe for me what makes you a patriot. And maybe have something more than your desire to be one as the criteria.

  36. conservative Scott says:

    “LOL, wow. All the Kool-Aid is gone.”

    You just proved my point. 🙂 LOL You are not even capable of showing what is false or “hateful” in what I said here, you just resort to the usual stereotypes.

    This is what I said before. That you can’t really have a dialogue or debate with most progressive Liberals, even those who call themselves libertarians. They start throwing the usual terms and slogans at you, like “hate” and “bigotry”, whether directly or not, instead of debating. The debate is over before it even begins.

    I’ll answer your question about what I think it means to be a patriot but I wonder
    why you focused only on that part of my post, and ignored all the ugly facts about Obama’s connections to the extreme Left.

    I’m not really surprised though.

    Still, it’s encouraging that you at least asked a good question.

  37. conservative Scott says:

    I think a patriot is someone who cares about his country and does what is best for his or her country. Of course, this may be subjective to some extent, because what some people think it’s best for the country, others may find not good at all. That’s why knowledge of history and being honest with oneself, are the most important things when determining what’s best for the country. The history of America, starting in the 1600s with the arrival of the first English Protestant settlers, shows clearly that limited government combined with personal responsibility and free market capitalism, are much better than big centralized government, socialist economics and the blame game. I think you know what I am talking about.

    Until 1900, America has been doing much better socially, economically, politically, than it is doing today. Things were not perfect, there were some terrible things, there was slavery and later segregation, so I don’t want to romanticize that period, but in many other respects, things were better. By 1900, America was doing great economically, compared to today. There was no 800 billion dollar debt to any foreign power, like the debt to China today. People were coming to America from all over the world, not just because it was economically better, but because they could have more freedom than where they came from. Families were stronger and more united, fathers took responsibility and were there for their kids, for the most part, mothers didn’t find it demeaning to be mothers. Gun rights existed, and ironically, though there were less restrictions than today, kids didn’t shoot each other in schools or anywhere else.

    Fast forward to today. After several decades of “progressive” politics and social engineering, what do you have? Teenagers having children and dropping out of high school, some of them end up in the shelter and on welfare. It’s not reasonable to encourage teenagers to have sex “as long as they use a condom”, because then they have kids and drop out of high school, can’t get an education and can’t get a job. That’s what liberals have been doing, though. Many kids who ended up in that situation are the result of such indoctrination and pop culture brainwashing. Their parents are irresponsible adults who are also the product of this culture of irresponsability and immorality, they are into alcohol or drugs (and welfare), so they don’t care.

    Kids shoot each other not because they have access to guns, but because the culture has degenerated. They had access to guns even fifty years ago, and they didn’t shoot each other. It’s no longer a culture of respect, love, life, morality and traditional values. Those things are ridiculed by the same social planners and the brainwashed people who support their policies.

    There’s nothing reasonable about their social and political agenda.

    We have a crippled economy, with millions of people on all sorts of social programs. Many of those people are neither old, nor handicapped, nor widows and orphans. They are just irresponsible and selfish, some of them are into a life of crime and self-destruction. And we have to pay for them.

    We have broken families, violent teenagers, more crime than 80 years ago, more debt to foreign countries, less buying power as consumers and more inflation. All these did not exist 80 or 100 years ago.

    It’s true that politicians in both parties contributed to this, but I daresay the Democrats did more damage than the Republicans. From Roosevelt to Clinton and to Obama, they all encouraged bigger government, which automatically means higher taxes and a larger money supply in circulation, which automatically means a devaluing of the dollar and higher inflation. But the worst thing is that they encouraged immorality and irresponsibility. How? By ridiculing traditional moral values. This war on traditional values is what caused the terrible problems we have today with crime, violence, immature and irresponsible teens and young adults, teenage pregnancy, drugs, and other things.

    They don’t believe there are absolute truths when it comes to the role of government, the Constitution, freedom, private property, all these things. They claim that these things change according to the times we live in and that it’s up to the government to decide about these things – freedom, property, religious faith and so on. In that respect, they are just like King George of England. The British monarchy claimed that it held absolute ownership over the lands of the colonists and all their protests were irrelevant. It was what they called “arbitrary” rule. There were no absolute foundations for the rights of the colonists in America. Those rights were defined and canceled arbitrarily, according to what the British king and his officials decided.

    Bush the first president, Clinton, then Bush again, and Obama, they all traded with and borrowed from China. They literally made us debtors to a totalitarian and evil state that murders its own people whenever they oppose its policies. Is that patriotism? Are any of these presidents patriots in your view?

    I don’t believe you have to be a Republican to be a patriot. Because Republicans like Cheney and Bush did not do what’s best for this country. Neither did Clinton or Obama.

    But you can have all the good intentions, if you support the destructive policies of any politician, you are unintentionally ruining the country.

    You say that people like me didn’t criticize Bush when he was in office. How do you know that?!

    I did say a lot about Bush and his un-Conservative policies to friends, co-workers and other people. I’ve stopped my support for Bush since 2004. That’s why I didn’t vote for him the second time around. I voted for him in 2000. Both he and Kerry were taking the country in the same destructive direction.

    I said in my post that people like me want a return to constitutional limits on the federal government, “regardless of who is in office.”

    I don’t have any blogs, because I’m not into blogging.

    I didn’t say all Tea Party people are patriots. Some are, those who understand what’s going on and who know a little bit of history. I think many people who attend Tea Party protests are not aware that without a good knowledge and understanding of American history, and that includes the time before the Declaration of Independence, they won’t be able to reclaim freedom and to limit the tyrannical tendencies of certain politicians and their allies.

    I agree with the fact that people who are protesting now, should have protested even before. I think the Tea Party protests should have started six or seven years ago. This has to do with what I said in the beginning, that we have be honest with ourselves first and foremost. Truth is more important than partisan politics and popular opinion. That’s something most people don’t understand, regardless of who they vote for.

  38. conservative Scott says:

    I was saying that the American political tradition is being destroyed by career politicians in both parties. And instead of trying to stop this, many allow themselves to be manipulated by the Liberal establishment media and are angry at the Tea Party protesters. They even compare the Tea Party people to Nazi. 🙂 they claim Conservatives and the Tea Party folks are ultra-nationalists. This is simply not true.

    The Tea Party folks do have one problem though. They are concerned about taxes but they are not concerned about the Constitution being undermined by politicians in both parties. They should start holding the current administration and both political parties accountable for everything unconstitutional, not just for higher taxes.

  39. Scott says:

    In regard to economic policies. It’s not a surprise that Obama is following the Socialist policies of Keynes and other red coats from among the British elites.

    Keynes was a Fabian Socialist. He was a member of the Fabian Society in England, an elite group of Marxist intellectuals.

    He was a statist, not a free market capitalist. Keynes, along with Harry Dexter White who was a secretly a member of the Communist Party and a Soviet spy, was also a member of the founding committee of the International Monetary Fund. Ironically, the IMF is perceived as capitalist by most people. : ) Many think it’s just an organization of bankers with good intentions. But when you look at the individuals who founded it and what their economic and political philosophies were, you realize this is sinister.

    I told you Santi, the more you research this stuff, the more interesting it gets. Truth is stranger than fiction, you know what they say. 🙂

  40. Scott says:

    In regard to economic policies. It’s not a surprise that Obama is following the Socialist policies of Keynes and other red coats from among the British elites. It’s not the American economic way. Many people are realizing this.

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