If the Tea Party had a nuclear device, would they use it?

osama-bin-laden32805nThey tried to shut down the US government.

images-1Will they succeed?

Such is their level of fanatical government hatred that the question seems reasonable.  Osama Bin-Laden had and Ted Cruz currently has the same goal: the complete shutdown of the Federal Government. The congressional Republicans and their Senate colleagues are bringing a new development, a Mid-East style of fanaticism to the Washington discourse.

A contorted face is often the first sign that one is in the throes of fanaticism. The same visage is found amongst Shia pilgrims flagellating themselves on the way to Karbala. It is found on the Hamas Gazans as they parade with bomb belts. The Israeli Haredi share these facial distortions when they see women at the Western Wall praying. The Pakistanis out to demonstrate support for the Taliban are particularly graphic.

So how did these same faces come to Washington? How did this level of rage reach Senator Cruz and his Texas anti-Obamacare Rangers? How did the rage of the Tea Party fill the radio and television broadcast spectrum?  We have all seen the proliferation of hummus joints in our cities. Why would we also import this Levant level of political fanaticism along with chickpeas?

Perhaps because it works. Here we are thirteen years after the attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, and the once defense-supporting Republicans and the Tea Party want to shut down…the Pentagon. They don’t want a discussion or a vote on the policies of the President. They want a cessation of them. The Tea Party has demonized the government as effectively as Iran’s Khomeini and his “great Satan” portrayal of America. If you gave a quiz to the House Tea Party Republicans on who used the “great Satan” label, most would attribute it to Rush Limbaugh, Rand Paul, Sarah Palin, Michelle Bachmann or “E”… all of the above. The government, especially now that it is in the health care racket, has become the anti-Christ; evil masquerading as good.

That there is little logic behind this is beside the point. That the kitchen table of the average American home resembles a campfire of endless horror stories of private healthcare incompetence and fraud is forgotten. In its rage aimed at the government’s attempt at fixing the private health care scam, all the depredations of the free market are Alzheimered away.  What the Tea Party did learn from 9/11 is that crashing and burning does get one’s attention. The Tea Party did learn that the overreaction to 9/11 validated Osama’s vision of and desire for a fearful and paranoid American government. This is the not too subtle message of Cruz et al. Let’s just blow up the place and see what comes next. It is a tactic borrowed from Hamas when it launches missiles with no identifiable trajectory at Israel or a suicide bomber walking into a Christian Church in Pakistan. The consequences are irrelevant to the message of pure destruction.

Thus we get the classic Nazi references from Ted Cruz. The Nazis being our symbol of Western/European fanaticism. It would not do him well to compare his cause to the Taliban’s Al Queda or the Settlers who want the Temple Mount back. No, Ted and his Tea Party would gasp in disbelief if they were compared to the last fanatic who attempted to shut down the U.S. government.

The larger question is of course; will the non-fanatical majority reward or punish them? Will we see a groundswell of gerrymandered protected Tea Party constituents ignite themselves in front of the Washington Monument or the rise of moderating influences? Will there be another Kansas City style domestic attack that will discredit the Tea Party and its fanatical agenda?

No one knows, but the history of fanatical movements is that they usually overstep their bounds and produce events that alienate the larger, more dominant moderates. This just happened in Greece with the arrest of Golden Dawn’s leadership. It does not take a soothsayer to see that Cruz and the Tea Party will influence someone somewhere to try and shut down the government in the Mid-East manner we have all been fighting these 12 years to protect ourselves from.

About the Author
Jonathan Russo has been observing Israel and its policies since he first visited in 1966. He is a businessman in New York City.