Tuesday, May 7, 2013

The Tea Party, 1898 style

A poll by Farleigh Dickinson University reveals that 44% of Republicans support an "armed revolution" to protect what they see as their "liberties." The problem with this is that the Republican Right has a strange view of "liberties" - and there's already an example out there of how an "armed revolution" by right-wingers would turn out.

There's been only one physical coup d'etat in America's recorded history. By that, I don't mean a rigged election - for the modern Republicans rig elections in every cycle. This also does not include invasions against native lands. America's lone coup occurred in Wilmington, North Carolina, in 1898. The event is known as the Wilmington Insurrection.

Granted, the Wilmington Insurrection wasn't carried out by the Republicans; it was carried out by right-wing Dixiecrats against a coalition of Republicans and Populists. But the point still stands: The insurrectionists were the 1898 version of the Tea Party - both in ideology and tactics.

The Wilmington Insurrection was a race riot that toppled the city's duly elected government. The 1898 election swept into office a city council made up of blacks and whites. Two days after the election, a white supremacist mob went on a rampage.

The crowd of about 1,500 burned down the office of an African-American newspaper. They chased public officials out of the city and killed countless people. The racist mob even photographed each other during the rioting. When it was over, thousands of residents had left town permanently.

The state of North Carolina didn't help matters, as the governor authorized one of the leaders of the coup to command the troops who were supposed to be putting down the riot. After rioters installed a new mayor and city council, the state and federal governments refused to restore the city's legitimate leaders.

The Wilmington Insurrection was like a Tea Party mutiny with a strong racist tinge. But that's redundant, as racism guides much of what the Tea Party does. They're much more open though about their classism than they are about their racism.

Will the Tea Party try to pull off a repeat of this illegal coup? Let's think of it this way: 44% of Republicans support an "armed revolution." Even with the GOP a dwindling party, that numbers millions of people. And it's safe to say that a significant percentage of this number own guns. Would the coup stick? I am certain that some state governments would do everything they can to make sure it does. But I have enough faith in the Obama administration that I think the coup leaders would be apprehended soon enough.

A fascist coup - coming to a city near you?

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