Media Matters writer Eric Boehlert had a field day today after he discovered this USA Today article describing what he believes to be proof of Tea Party violence. In part it reads:
A Ku Klux Klansman working for General Electric and an accomplice are facing terrorism charges in Upstate New York for allegedly planning to build a mobile X-ray weapon to kill Muslims and other "enemies of Israel," federal authorities announced Wednesday.
Glendon Scott Crawford, 49, of Galway, N.Y., and Eric J. Feight, 54, of Hudson, N.Y., were charged with conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists, which carries a maximum prison term of 15 years, U.S. Attorney Richard Hartunian said. They were due in federal court in Albany on Wednesday.
Crawford, an industrial mechanic with GE, claimed the "Hiroshima on a light switch" device could fit in a van, be triggered remotely and deliver lethal doses of ionizing radiation that would kill its targets as they slept, the complaint stated. Feight allegedly agreed to build the electronic controls.
Their target was the Muslim community, the complaint stated, and they had successfully tested the remote trigger from about a half-mile away.
First, I'd like to be clear that I do believe that Crawford, provided the charges are accurate (of which I have no doubt), is a violent radical of the worst kind, and likely quite unhinged, a fact which probably sparked his nonsensical radicalism in the first place. However, the connection between Crawford and the Tea Party is very, very weak.
First off, the USA Today article in which this story was printed listed a Facebook page with a whopping....wait for it....12 members as the home site of "Americans Demanding Liberty and Freedom." Perhaps the writers of this article aren't aware, but ANYONE can create a Facebook page and it's not that difficult to tag on a few (read: 12) fans, especially if it's one throwing out red meat (for the most part) to supporters of the Constitution. If you click the link listed for the organization's website (located on the Facebook page), it goes to this link which states that the webpage is currently having issue or is undergoing maintenance. Basically, it's a faulty website.
Furthermore, the article states that "Americans Demanding Liberty and Freedom" is a recognized group listed on the Tea Party Patriots website, which means, based upon Mr. Boehlert's thin logic, that TPP obviously endorses everything this group does. There are two problems with this.
1. Just like on Facebook, anyone can create a page on Tea Party Patriots. It's not as if they go through a rigorous vetting process for the thousands of user made pages on the site.
2. Even if a rigorous vetting process were in place, there is nothing on this Tea Party "group's" page which would flag it for any sort of radicalism. The tagline for the group is "Devoted to restoring the Constitution as the law of the land by electing a government that will work for the PEOPLE to restore Americas freedoms, economic security, and soveriegnty." Sure, it could have been flagged for bad grammar and misspellings, but that's about it.
To call Crawford a run-of-the-mill Tea Partier is a pretty weak thesis. Does he identify himself with the Tea Party? Yes. Does his greatly dislike President Obama? Yes. However, to claim that his racism and radicalism can be projected onto the entire Tea Party movement is simply an illogical, and naive, argument. Sure, if the Tea Party was routinely posting his insane rants on their front page, Eric Boehlert would have a point. But they didn't. I honestly believe that most leaders within the Tea Party didn't even know this man existed. He runs a Facebook page with 12 followers. I mean, come on.
Now, what Tea Partiers need to do is make sure that we reject Crawford's arguments and refuse to stand by his insane theories and perspectives. Not that I believe his point-of-view is shared by many (or any) Tea Parties, but when your movement is perpetually accused of having ties to terror (though no such ties have been found), you have to be on the offensive.
Now, to flip Eric Boehlert's theory on it's head. If all it takes to blame the entire Tea Party for terrorist are the anti-Obama rantings of one accused terror suspect, can't we apply the same logic to liberals and Democrats? Or any political, religious or ideological affiliation for that matter? So an atheist blows up a federal building in Oklahoma. Does that mean all atheists are to blame? Of course not. If a schizophrenic man afraid of poor grammar shoots a Congresswoman, does that mean English teachers should be at fault? No. This type of argument applies broad generalizations we normally call "racism" if applied to a specific race. I know Mr. Boehlert wouldn't want to apply this logic to African Americans, so why apply it to the Tea Party?