After Attacking Tea Party 'Mobs,' American Press Try to Understand London's Rioters

August 15th, 2011 6:24 PM

Throughout July and early August, during the weeks of an impending budget crisis, Tea Partiers were repeatedly called vile names, from terrorists to delusional children to people strapped with dynamite in the middle of Times Square. The British rioters, who did inflict terror on London, who were typically delusional youth, and who burned down a number of buildings, were instead "disenchanted."

It seems as though the media mixed their labels on the two activist groups, sympathizing with the rioters while viciously attacking a mainstream and completely non-destructive conservative group. The same sympathy the media felt for the British youth was never applied to the Tea Party, which has always peacefully worked to enact political change.

As Reason's A. Barton Hinkle explained, the same rhetoric that was used against the Tea Party's "angry mobs" was suddenly forgotten against the true angry mobs in London.

"Angry mobs" were trying to "destroy president Obama," fumed Democratic Party leaders back then. "This is something new and ugly," seethed Paul Krugman of The New York Times, which described the town hall events as "brutal." No one seemed interested in the root causes of the sign-wavers' agitation then. You didn't hear much about the "disillusionment" and "disenchantment" of Tea Party protesters who marched on Washington in September 2009, and again the following March.

This "disillusionment" and "disenchantment" is exactly what the attitudes of the violent British rioters have been excused as, though. Hinkle sarcastically continued,

When conservatives wave signs, it's not "unrest" caused by a "sense of disenchantment." It's because they're bigots. Society as a whole is not to blame; they are, individually. They need an attitude adjustment. When violent mobs of young people burn down a city, though, they are not individually responsible—society as a whole is (or at least that part of society that ostensibly ticked them off). They don't need an attitude adjustment: conservatives do.

The New York Times sympathized with the "troubled, unemployed youths." In a weekend editorial, the Times's Thomas Friedman lumped Tea Partiers with Arab Spring uprisings and European riots, writing "the angry Tea Party emerge[d] from nowhere and [set] American politics on its head." The Washington Post warned American spending cuts would bring the same turmoil, writing, "It’s too early to know whether spending cuts played any part in England’s burning. But as the United States embarks on its own retrenchment, it should beware — this is an argument that could soon be coming your way." Reuters, via MSNBC, blamed a "potent mix" of unemployment and budget cuts. None placed any blame on the youth themselves, instead blaming government spending cuts by conservatives as the real problem.

If you've ever been to or seen a Tea Party rally, it fails to fit any sort of comparison to the fiery damage that rioters inflicted on London last week. The most damage a Tea Party rally has inflicted might be a dead patch of grass under a stage, not millions of pounds in damage to family businesses and stolen property. Nonsensically, the media continues to viciously attack the peaceful Tea Party as terroristic, in stark contrast to the way they are treating the violent and destructive London rioters as merely disillusioned and troubled youth.