How would the NAACP respond if a politician or other public figure had said this about all black people?
Recently, US Representative John Boehner (R-OH) odiously mischaracterized anarchist philosophy and painted an inaccurate portrait of its core values, saying that at Tea Party events there are “Always a couple of anarchists who want to kill all of us in public office.” Anarchism is an ideology based on individual freedom and opposition to institutionalized aggression, not on some insane love of public mayhem.
Yes, when people hear the word “anarchist” their neurons start firing on images of Molotov cocktail-wielding, black bandanna-wearing street fighters at G20.
That impression is more a product of 200 years of Boehner-style smear rhetoric than an accurate perception of what anarchism means or what anarchists do. It’s on par with any other stereotype — the “lazy/violent Negro” used to justify Jim Crow, the “potential pedophile” trotted out to support discrimination against homosexuals and other sexual minorities, the hopped-up robber or rapist offered up as justification for the war on drugs.
Yes, there are violent and insurrectionary anarchists, just as there are people who resemble those other stereotypes. No, those particular people are not representative of this diverse movement any more than those other stereotypes are representative of African-Americans, LGBTQ persons, or recreational drugs users.
I’ve attended Tea Parties as an anarchist because I’m a sincere libertarian who cares about limiting the power, scope, and size of government and fighting its unjustified intrusion upon the lives of peaceful individuals. Many of of my fellow Tea Party attendees intuitively and intellectually grasp the danger of the unlimited state and seek to reduce its influence over their personal lives. Anarchism is a radical extension of that reasonable impulse, not the nihilist tantrum that Boehner makes it out to be.
At Tea Party events, I like to ask questions of people who care about limiting governments.
How is land is justly acquired? Most people accept homesteading, occupancy and use as appropriate justification to call a parcel of land one’s own.
In reply, I note that the state homesteads nothing, produces nothing, but merely draws a political boundary and declares that if one lives within the stated arbitrary geographical area one must buy defense and justice services from its monopolistic organization.
What happens if someone attempts to buy competing services not linked to artificial political borders? Agents of the state will throw that person in a cage (and kill them if they resists).
Market anarchism is such a basic and consistent idea, an idea so in tune with the values professed by the Tea Partiers, that it’s only natural for anarchists to show up and challenge fellow freedom-lovers to adopt it.
I agree that a consistent philosophy which values and respects the peaceful choices of the Tea Partiers and their neighbors is indeed a threat to Boehner and his ilk, but not a threat of the type he claims. It’s not a death threat, it’s the threat of a pink slip.
Citations to this article:
- Ross Kenyon, Do anarchists at tea parties really want to kill all politicians?, Christian Science Monitor, 30 Aug 2010