Do the teabaggers represent the vanguard of fascism in the United States? Noam Chomsky seems to think so.
“I’m just old enough to have heard a number of Hitler’s speeches on the radio,” he said, “and I have a memory of the texture and the tone of the cheering mobs, and I have the dread sense of the dark clouds of fascism gathering” here at home.
Chomsky was speaking to more than 1,000 people at the Orpheum Theatre in Madison, Wisconsin, where he received the University of Wisconsin’s A.E. Havens Center’s award for lifetime contribution to critical scholarship.
“The level of anger and fear is like nothing I can compare in my lifetime,” he said.
According to The Progressive, Chomsky quoted the results of a “recent poll” supposedly showing that the Tea Party’s message resonates with the majority of the population, and argued that the teabaggers are downwardly mobile workers who are pissed off at the Obama administration because they think that it’s doing too much on behalf of bankers and the rich while their personal fortunes continue to decline.
A lot of people on the left have made similar arguments about the teabaggers, but as I pointed out a few weeks ago, the emerging data continues to suggest that they’re wrong. A brand new New York Times/CBS poll of self-identified Tea Party supporters appears to confirm my earlier argument that the teabaggers are not disgruntled proletarians at all. They’re basically a clutch of well-off white guys who have pretty horrible ideas about basically everything, but care way more about promoting a libertarian economic agenda than anything even vaguely resembling fascism. And revealingly, a solid majority of them think that the Obama administration’s policies favor the poor, not the bankers.
Yes, the teabaggers are angry to the point where they forget basic rules of spelling and grammar. But on the whole they’re not the downtrodden proto-fascist horde that Chomsky and a lot of other people make them out to be. If you want to run into a teabagger, your best bet is to head down to the local country club.
Chris Maisano is a member of the Young Democratic Socialists New York City chapter. He studied at Rutgers and Drexel University and currently works as a librarian at a large public library branch in Brooklyn. This article was first published by The Activist on 15 April 2010 under a Creative Commons license.