As anyone who has spent any time reading them knows, left-wing bloggers and activists tend to live in a world of their own, in which the most outrageous sorts of allegations against conservatives and Republicans are not required to be supported by any evidence. This is especially true when it comes to accusing conservatives and Republicans of bigotry and other improper motivations; left-wingers feel free to lecture us on how they know better than we do what motivates us and how we think, and leave conservatives and Republicans stuck attempting to disprove a negative.
In theory, the Washington Post is supposed to be a reputable newspaper and above this sort of thing. But Greg Sargent, the former Talking Points Memo blogger and the Post's current in-house left-wing activist, doesn't see himself as bound by such mundane considerations as having evidence before slandering an entire movement. Consider this Tweet today from Sargent:
Hah! RT @Redshift4 TP leader compares Tea Party to abolitionism, civil rights, & women's suffrage. // 3 things they want to reverse
I saved a screenshot here in case he takes it down:
Now, if you're familiar with Twitter, this Tweet is sort of odd, as he appears to be Retweeting a user named @Redshift4 and adding his own comment after the slashes, but @Redshift4 appears to have only Tweeted once and this wasn't in that Tweet. So, it's not clear at all how much of this Tweet is Sargent's "original" thought or, for that matter, what Tea Party "leader" (there are almost as many as there are Tea Partiers, which if you know anything about the movement is kind of the point) he's quoting. But it is nonetheless clear that Sargent is at least endorsing the notion that "they" - presumably all Tea Partiers - want to "reverse" the work of the abolitionists, the civil rights movement and women's suffrage and restore slavery, Jim Crow and the male-only vote.
This is outrageous. I realize that slandering grassroots opponents of the Obama Administration is considered necessary by the left-wing blogs, that left-wing bloggers are often so unfamiliar with ordinary Americans as to find their motivations inscrutable, and that Twitter lends itself to off-the-cuff oversimplifications. And I realize that grassroots movements, by their nature, include a broad enough array of opinion and attract enough cranks that you can find somebody in a movement of millions to support just about any old fool thing. But we are talking here about bedrock elements of our Constitutional structure - the 13th, 14th, 15th and 19th Amendments - and legal and social changes that are by now deeply embedded in our society, none of which has anything to do with the stated purposes by which the Tea Party movement has attracted such a wide following. Sargent cites no evidence, and I expect him to cite none, that any significant sliver of the Tea Party movement, let alone the dreaded "they" that appears to refer to the entire movement, has designs on reinstituting slavery and segregation and denying women the vote. Even the 9/11 Truthers had more to work with than this.
The Washington Post should consider whether it stands by Sargent's characterization of the motives of the entire Tea Party.