Tuesday, October 26, 2010

TeaCon: SF&F writers sound off on the Tea Party

With midterm congressional and state elections only a week away, and Sarah Palin-endorsed, Tea Party-backed, Sikh-American, Republican businesswoman Nimrata Randhawa Haley poised to win the governorship of South Carolina, I thought it would be enlightening to see how various science fiction & fantasy writers feel about the Tea Party. Here are some recent memorable quotes, all taken out of context, of course.

1. Jeff VanderMeer
February 2010
So, some people are having a tea party in Washington D.C. this weekend. It’s very much like the tea party in Alice in Wonderland. There are many participants who seem to share genes with the Mad Hatter. Unlike with Alice’s tea party, though, the surreal absurdity on display isn’t harmless. In tough economic times, the potential rise of a far-right political movement—especially one based on lies and on simplifications—is cause for concern. It shifts the consensus reality just a little farther toward the conditions whereby a free state (albeit one beset by corporate lobbyists and other constraints against being a true democracy) becomes a truly totalitarian state.

2. James D. Macdonald
March 2010
Terrorism is the use of force or violence against persons or property in violation of the criminal laws of the United States for purposes of intimidation, coercion, or ransom. I do wonder what the Homeland Security folks are doing about these guys. (Probably nothing, since they aren’t named Mohammad, don’t dress funny, and aren’t brown.)

There’s another name for what the Tea Baggers are doing. I’m waiting for a group of them to get together in a beer hall to install the Permanent Republican Majority.

3. John C. Wright
August 2010
“What year is this, again?”

It is the year when the NAACP denounced the Tea Party movement as bigots; when M. Night Shyamalan was denounced as a bigot for not casting blue-eyed Eskimos to play roles in the movie LAST AIRBENDER; when the Arizonian law enforcing rules no different than those currently on the books on the federal level was denounced as bigotry; the year when a low-ranking judge overturned an voter-initiative amendment to the California State constitution defining marriage as marriage on the grounds that it was bigotry: it is, in other words, the year when the mere parochialism and stupidity of politically correct newspeak has finally defeated it. You, sir, merely have not gotten the message yet. Your way of talking, that smug inventions of new little catch-phrases and nonsense words in order to pretend a superiority to your superiors, is a fad whose time has passed.

4. Orson Scott Card
August 2010
So we have tea parties that voice the frustration of people who feel that neither party is doing what the country needs or what these individuals want.

Naturally, both parties have to choose whether to try to co-opt the tea party movement or kill it. Democrats are trying the latter, Republicans the former. But it's worth remembering that neither party deserves a single tea-party vote; and, if the tea party "movement" becomes a political party in its own turn, it won't deserve any of its own members' votes!

Why? Because the tea party movement began with the common sense idea that surely there's got to be a better way than this! What are these parties for, really? In the old days, when they stood for nothing but the will to win political power, they were useless in helping us decide how to vote. Now, when they stand for whatever extreme wing will fund them most exuberantly, they are still useless in helping us decide how to vote -- because choosing either party will lead us to be ruled by the absurd collection of the extremist views of those who fund them.

5. John Scalzi
September 2010
Paul [not Paul of Marooned]: “Not sure why you are hating on the TEA party people, calling them ‘crazy nephew from the attic’ and all.”

[John Scalzi:] It’s not that hard to figure out. Basically, the Tea Party modus operandi at this point seems to be “let’s nominate people who in the real world would be suspected of eating crayons for breakfast,” and while I think it’s nice that these folks seem to think that’s somehow affirming, it doesn’t really lend any credence to the theory that the Tea Party, as nebulous at it actually is at the point, is about anything other than old white people acting out and/or credulously being gulled by political cynics who would otherwise have no chance to be taken seriously.

6. Frederik Pohl
September 2010
Newton Leroy Gingrich’s latest I’ll-say-anything-for-a-headline proclamation is really pretty weird. What he says is that in order to understand President Obama’s political activities you have to know that Obama is really acting according to Kenyan, not American, political practices.

Actually, I think that’s pretty dumb. I’ve read a lot on the subject, and I’ve been there myself, but I couldn’t tell you how Kenyan political practices are different from those of any number of other little countries that are trying to figure out just how their new democracy thing should work, and I really don’t think Gingrich could pass a test on it himself. I’m pretty sure that the real purpose of that press release was actually a somewhat slimy one. That is, his intention was to reinforce that preposterous Tea Party nonsensical claim that our president isn’t an American at all.

Their claim is that, in spite of the fact that the official records, the newspapers that record such things and those people, still alive, who were involved in any of those activities at the time say he is an American (and they all say the same thing), they’re all lying. This is, of course, pathological. There is definitely no truth to the Tea Party goons’ claim that Barack Obama wasn’t really born in Hawaii, a fully accredited state of the United States, but in some foreign country.

7. Jerry Pournelle
September 2010
And for the moment, the Tea Party needs to decide something else: the Country Club is behaving badly, with their defeated candidates running spoiler campaigns, and generally acting like thugs. The temptation is for the Tea Party people to do the same in the places where Tea Party candidates did not win the primaries. It is important not to yield to those temptations. It's going to take time to rebuild the Republican Party, and one thing we must all realize is that conservatives aren't going to win everything. About half the country calls itself conservative, but many of those who do so are really moderates who believe that government should and must do many things that "real" conservatives think ought to be left to associations or not done at all. Many people who call themselves "conservative" in polls are horrified at the huge intrusions of government in their lives, but they are accustomed to some of them. We have for years been building a society in which everybody plunders everybody, and while we are weary of being plundered, we enjoy the plunder.

8. Cory Doctorow
September 2010
The mellifluously named TeaPartyBizOpp.info (presumably the .com was taken?) is a pyramid scheme that recruits disgruntled wingnuts to "Get Paid To Stop Liberal Tyranny!" by "helping raise funds to defend our freedom." 

9. David Brin 
October 2010
Lighting the political lamp (it may be on for a couple of weeks), let me begin with a disclaimer, for those of you who don't know me ... I despise all dogmatists, including those on the far-left. As a one-time keynoter for a Libertarian Party Convention, I have the bona fides of someone who has read and understood Adam Smith.  In fact, it is for that reason that I know which party the "First Liberal" would vote for, today, if he could. And it's not the one that touts his name the most.

Moreover, if communism was a principal threat to freedom, a generation ago, can there be any doubt that the madness and danger is coming from a different direction today?


To see just how crazy it is out there, you really must read this… 

10. Jay Lake
Link Salad with Your Morning Brew
October 2010
This, in a nutshell, is why I think the Tea Party is so patently either a gang of wilful idiots or conservative racists. Almost everything they’re so angry at the black Democratic president about is a result of Bush’s policies — the trillion dollar deficit, the bank bailouts, the wars overseas. Yet not a peep out of those guys back when these now thoroghly despised decisions were being made and implemented by a white Republican. The things on their shit list that Obama has done — HCR, changes in the tax code, the economic stimulus — the Tea Party is simply wrong about on the face of the plain facts.

Here’s my question for this distinguished panel of writers: Irrespective of whether you are a member of the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America, do you believe that SFWA should increase its membership fees so that the organization can pay its executive director a higher hourly wage? The last time I checked the paperwork, the executive director of SWFA was paid less than $28,000 per year. Thanks!

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