Gandhi in The Post Pt 2: Is the Tea Party truly nonviolent?

05May10

The Plot thickens over at The Post, as the opinion letter I discussed last week that compares Gandhian tactics to the Tea Party is challenged by Ohio University graduate student Ben Guenther.

Screenshot of Guenther's letter from The Post's website (click to enlarge).

Guenther claims that Brakey’s comments comparing the Tea Party’s struggle to Gandhi and King’s ideals is out of context and hypocritical, given the Tea Party’s condemnation of socialismism and Gandhi and King’s complete support of socialism.

It is true; according to Dr. Michael Nojeim in his article “A Gandhian Blueprint for Nonviolent Change,” Gandhi believed that the wealth of society should be evenly distributed. According to Nojeim:

[According to Gandhi] if someone had a personal surplus or excess wealth beyond what he or she needed for a simple life, then it must be kept in reserve for more needy people.

In contrast, the Tea Party’s main representative, Sarah Palin, has been advocating an anti-socialist viewpoint ever since the 2008 presidential campaign, claiming that Barack Obama is taking our country in a bad direction with his implementation of “socialist economic policies.” According to Palin,

Senator Obama said he wants to quote ‘spread the wealth.’ What that means is he wants government to take your money and dole it out however a politician sees fit… Friends, now is no time to experiment with socialism. To me, our opponent plans sound more like big government, which is the problem. Bigger government is not the solution.

Indeed, it does seem strange for Brakey — an assumed Tea Party supporter — to use Gandhian and King principals, when these two men stood it strict opposition to the main platform on which the Tea Party stands.

Guenther also says that Brakey is incorrect in his claim that the Tea Party implements nonviolent resistant; while they may not exert physical violence, Guenther says that the Tea Party’s use of “violent language and rhetoric” do not make them followers of a nonviolent strategy.

The following video shows a collection of signs from various Tea Party gatherings; while not all “violent,” examples include “Obama = Hitler” and “Freeloading illegals are raping U.S. taxpayers,” language that neither Gandhi nor King would likely use or encourage and which could arguably be considered emotionally violent.

What I had not considered in writing my previous post is the use of violence towards one’s emotions or psyche, a practice that the Tea Party does seem to use. They are not alone, however, as this type of language and protest is seen throughout all outlets of politics. Sadly, this seems to be unavoidable, and it is what Gandhi and King in fact fought so hard against.

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