“[Those in the Tea Party movement, who are frustrated and fed up with American government] shouldn’t be laughed at. It’s not a joke. Ridiculing the Tea Party shenanigans is a terrible mistake. Why are those voices of discontent being mobilized by the extreme Right?” –Noam Chomsky, 8 April 2010
A correspondent sends an apposite description of the Tea Party protests:
“An astroturf campaign that has become a mass movement”
– that is, a fake grass-roots movement begun by business interests, some associated with the Republican party, to prevent tax rises for social spending – but which unexpectedly came to attract many Americans in the wake of the financial collapse and bank bailouts of 2008.
By 2010 the business publication The Economist was describing Tea Partiers as “America’s most vibrant political force.” The name “Tea Party” is a reference to the Boston Tea Party of 1773, when British colonists in New England (disguised as Indians) destroyed tea taxed by the British government when the colonists had no representation in the British Parliament. Contemporary Tea Partiers say the first word is an acronym for “taxed enough already.”
Particularly after their protest of the administration’s so-called health-reform bill, the Tea Partiers have attracted hysterical condemnation from supporters of the administration Television news channel and website MSNBC (Microsoft and NBC) has been particularly scornful; The Nation magazine has called for prosecutions for “sedition” [sic]; and leading New York Times columnist Frank Rich has written several columns (“vibrant with class hatred,” says media critic Alexander Cockburn) dismissing the Tea Partiers at length as simply “racists.”