Naomi Wolf Thinks the Tea Parties Help Fight Fascism – Is She Onto Something or in Fantasy Land?

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In her bestselling
End
of America
, Naomi Wolf outlines the 10 warning signs that
America is headed toward a fascist takeover. Using historical precedents,
she explains how our government is mimicking those of Mussolini,
Hitler and Stalin through practices like surveillance of ordinary
citizens, restricting the press, developing paramilitary forces
and arbitrarily detaining people.

The book was
lauded by liberals under Bush: the Independent Publishers gave it
the Freedom Fighter Award; John Nichols at the Nation named
it the most valuable political book of 2007. Now, under President
Obama, Wolf’s book is providing ammunition for the Tea Partiers,
Patriots, Ron Paul supporters and Oath Keepers, who also warn of
impending tyrannical government. Even when the book first came out
pre-Obama, Alex Jones, Michael Savage and Fox News invited her on
their shows, and agreed with her.

It’s not
just her message. She speaks their language, referring to the Founding
Fathers and American Revolution as models, admitting to a profound
sense of fear, warning of tyranny, fascism, Nazism and martial law.
When Glenn Beck warns of these things we laugh. When Wolf draws
those same connections, we listen. How can both sides be speaking
the same language, yet see things so differently? Or are we just
not listening to each other? I telephoned Wolf to ask her what it
means when your book ends up bolstering policies you oppose.

Justine
Sharrock: First off, is your book still relevant under Obama?

Naomi Wolf:
Unfortunately it is more relevant. Bush legalized torture, but Obama
is legalizing impunity. He promised to roll stuff back, but he is
institutionalizing these things forever. It is terrifying and the
left doesn’t seem to recognize it.

JS: Did
you realize that your book is being lauded within the Tea Party
and patriot movements?

NW:
Since I wrote Give
Me Liberty
, I have had a new audience that looks different
than the average Smith girl. There is a giant libertarian component.
I have had a lot of dialogue with the Ron Paul community. There
are [Tea Partiers] writing to me on my Facebook page, but I figured
they were self-selective libertarians and not arch conservatives.
I am utterly stunned that I have a following in the patriot movement
and I wasn’t aware that specific Tea Partiers were reading
it. They haven’t invited me to speak. They invited Sarah Palin.

JS: If they
did invite you, would you speak at a Tea Party?

NW:
I would go in a heartbeat. I’ll go anywhere to talk about the
Constitution. I believe in trans-partisan organizing around these
issues. When I went on Fox News people asked me why I was going
on those shows. Are you kidding? You have to go, especially to people
you don’t agree with. We need to get back into grappling with
people we disagree with if we want to restore the Republic.

I was invited
by the Ron Paul supporters to their rally in Washington last summer
and I loved it. I met a lot of people I respected, a lot of “ordinary”
people, as in not privileged. They were stepping up to the plate,
when my own liberal privileged fellow demographic habituates were
lying around whining. It was a wake-up call to the libertarians
that there’s a progressive who cares so much about the same
issues. Their views of liberals are just as distorted as ours are
of conservatives.

JS: Why
do you think the sides don’t understand each other?

NW:
Frankly, liberals are out of the habit of communicating with anyone
outside their own in cohort. We have a cultural problem with self-righteousness
and elitism. Liberals roll their eyes about going on "Oprah"
to reach a mass audience by using language that anyone can understand
even if you majored in semiotics at Yale. We look down on people
we don’t agree with. It doesn’t serve us well.

There is also
a deliberate building up of two camps that benefits from whipping
up home team spirit and demonizing the opposition. With the Internet
there is even more fractioning since we are in echo chambers. With
so much propaganda it is hard to calm down enough to listen.

JS: What
do you think is the biggest misconception about the Tea Parties?

NW:
The Tea Party is not monolithic. There is a battle between people
who care about liberty and the Constitution and the Republican Establishment
who is trying to take ownership of it and redirect it for its own
purposes.

JS: In your
essay, “Tea
Time in America
you said that some of the Tea Party’s
proposals are “ahead of their time.” What are some examples?

NW:
I used to think “End the Fed people” were crackpots. The
media paints them as deranged. But it turned out we had good reason
to have more oversight. Or take their platform about states’
rights. Demographically, I’m a hippie from San Francisco and
I’m not culturally inclined to be sympathetic to states’ rights.
My cultural heritage is FDR and Medicare and federal government
solutions. But if you think through the analysis, strengthening
state rights is a good corrective of the aggregation of an over-reaching
federal power. Take California’s challenge of the Patriot Act
or states like Vermont leading the way with addressing the corruption
of the voting system. It’s a good example of the Tea Party
thinking out of the box on how to address a problem.

Read
the rest of the article

March
31, 2010

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