I don’t know John Batchelor except from a fairly obscure late-night talk show he does. It’s not a bad show, though I find it a bit boring, but he seems to do okay with it and good on him for that.
However, he also writes at Tina Brown’s site The Daily Beast, where he purports to be a Republican. His latest broadside against the Tea Party movement was an ugly piece of blogging excrement and it was rightly ignored by most of the right-wing blogosphere (and will get no linkage here). However, Pajamas Television gave Batchelor a platform to “defend” his noxious tripe, though I really don’t know why they bothered. Smitty listened carefully to what Batchelor had to say in his interview, transcribed a bit of it, and dismantled it with great precision and ferocity. I think the charge of elitism is solid here, though there’s definitely an undercurrent of fright as well, as if the ordinary Americans who have dared to raise their voices to their elected officials were invading Hottentots and he a blushing virgin.
First, a note. I think it should be axiomatic that no Republican who writes for The Daily Beast is there because they are prone to complementing the GOP. Brown has them there to rip away at the soft underbelly of the party and to give the left a reason to point and say “See? Those Republicans think the GOP is populated with inbred, mouth-breathing hate-mongers so it must be true!”. They are the progressive left’s useful idiots and I think any advice they give should be treated as poison.
Okay, so back to Batchelor. This quote should disqualify him from opining on politics or U.S. history forever. It won’t, so long as Brown keeps paying him to write, but it should.
Liberty requires order, and decency, and respect. Acting out, throwing signs out, getting thrown out of meetings, or making loud speeches to the television camera is not about liberty.
Really, Mr. Batchelor? I seem to recall that men with guns shot at British soldiers from behind rocks and trees in what the British considered a disorderly and indecent manner specifically to secure liberty. The US Civil War, fought to ensure the liberty of an entire group of people hitherto enslaved, was seen as indecent by those who opposed it. The civil rights movement was anything but respectful to the bigots who fought it even within the hallowed halls of Congress. Thomas Payne did not write an etiquette manual, but a rough call for incivility against the tyrant George III.
Perhaps Batchelor isn’t strong on American history, so let me grab a few examples from an area where he does claim expertise, foreign policy. The young people who claimed their freedom in East Germany didn’t do so with cleverly-worded white papers but by tearing down a wall. The people of Romania didn’t sit at home sipping tea and composing sharply-worded e-mails to their leaders. I’m fairly sure that the jailers beating the snot out of Steven Biko didn’t consider him decent or worthy of respect.
Now, America today isn’t the America of the 1860s or the East Germany of 1989 and the tea party movement isn’t a violent insurrection against tyranny or a war against slavery. But it’s clear that a movement that is “about liberty” doesn’t have to conform to John Batchelor’s ridiculous limits. Indeed, what we do know of history is that fighting for liberty involves…well…fighting, whether it’s an armed conflict or, as we’ve seen over the past month, heated rhetoric.
But, really, we don’t need examples from history to demonstrate how silly Batchelor’s argument is. Let’s use a more simply example. If someone tried to kidnap Batchelor and imprison him, do you think he’d go meekly or would he raise a ruckus, fight back, and generally act in a disorderly and disrespectful manner toward his kidnappers? You know the answer to that as well as I.
The people who have been raising their voices to their members of Congress are frustrated beyond the point of polite civility, and for good reason. The Democratic majority has lied to them over and over again (and the Republicans have mostly hidden in the background like a bunch of scalded dogs), have voted to spend trillions of dollars that we citizens and our children will have to pay back without even bothering to read the spending bills they’ve passed, and have treated them at best like ATMs and at worst like vassals. The protesters are not idiots. They know that America is not supposed to work like that. So, having resorted in vain to the polite means of letters, e-mails, and phone calls, they are resorting to the only method of getting their representatives’ attention they have left.
It’s a shame that they have to subject to the ignorant tut-tutting of such a shabby thinker as John Batchelor.