Sorting Out the ‘Extremists’
The difference between Wall Street protestors and the Tea Party


Jonah Goldberg

The Wall Street protesters are opposed to bailouts for banks — but it seems to be news to them that they, too, are opposing policies pushed by the first black president.

Another criticism of the tea parties has been that they are an “astroturf” organization funded by the nefarious Koch Brothers and other right-wing groups. And there’s some truth to that. Conservative groups — opposed to Wall Street bailouts, mind you — did join the tea-party cause after it was up and running.

We are now seeing the same thing with Big Labor and the progressive wing of the Democratic party. They’re backing the protesters in ever larger numbers. But don’t expect cries of astroturfing any time soon.

Why the double standard? The short answer is that what counts as the political center in this country still leans considerably to the left. These young, scruffy, utopian, urban protesters are what rebels are supposed to look and sound like.

The tea partiers, meanwhile, are scarier because they’re effective and because they challenge the preconceived notions of what American protest is supposed to look like. I mean, what’s with those tricorn hats for Pete’s sake?

If only Thomas Paine wore a sock on his head.

— Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large of National Review Online and a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. You can reach him by e-mail at [email protected], or via Twitter @JonahNRO. © 2011, Tribune Media Services, Inc.


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