This piece has been sitting in 'drafts' for a long time (12/29/09), might as well get it out there.
Ever since a I published "Ultra Conservative Right Building Networks on Twitter", I've had great feed back; many people thanking me for showing them some of the ways Twitter is being used, but also for the heads-up on ultra right networking.
Since my name was bundled in with #tcot (Top Conservatives On Twitter) #FF (Friend Friday) TeaParty organizing effort, I get the odd follow from folks with a less than a hundred tweets and 5,000 or so following. This is evidence that the ultra right have jump started a community on Twitter using several social networking innovations in tandem: Twitter lists, the "Get 1,000s Followers" technology (through key words a program aggregates twitter accounts to each other) and online radio. This networking was galvanized through political action in Washington around the Health Care Reform (#hcr) debate and through Fox News which propels a movement - that is at most a 5% slice of the American political pie - to the top of their 'news' broadcasting lineup. Fox's partisan journalism is in the best traditions of William Randolph Hearst who laid the ideological ground work for the Spanish/American War of 1898 that reminds me of the build up to the war in Iraq.
This group of TeaPartists has created the impression of a publica which members of Congress have used to avail themselves of lobbyist money from Big Pharma and others on the business side of the Health Care Reform debate (#hcr). Up until just before Christmas 2009 many Republicans were siding with the Democrat majority to pass a bill that it is hard to imagine anyone being against. But the leadership of the Republican party, still filled with the radical right from the Bush/Cheney/Rove years whipped Congress into a partisan war.
One wonders what their agenda is, besides the obvious, personal power.
A good indicator is the example of teaparty twitterer John Sykes, aka @johnsykes1035 (john psychs?). His bio says: "Caracas, Exeter, Cornell, USMC, Vietnam, CIA, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Fort Lauderdale, Conservative, Christian". Is he cryptically saying, that he is/was a part of psychological operations, an intelligence man? Mr. Sykes has a Tweet server which he loads with Tweets. The program Tweets regularly, and as well he throws in live tweets along the way - for the human touch. He's loaded it with quotes from the Bible and from for example Henry Ward Beecher, Winston Churchill or Benjamin Franklin. A reading list from the book self of Karl Rove and Newt Gingrich, who I have been following for you.
These teapartyists remind me of the history of the second world war, specifically the terror visited upon all German citizens by the spot-lighting and persecution of visible subcultures in the German diaspora by the "Brown Shirts". Not that they are now those fascists, but that with a tweak here and there the group could easily be manipulated that way. Like someone is setting the foundations (Gingrich/Rove).
The Brown Shirts are famous for the 'night of broken glass' or 'Kristallnacht'. Kristallnacht was part of a population control scenario designed by the genius Joseph Goebbels who used a new understanding social psychology and mass media, namely radio, to subdue the German majority to a small sub-culture of xenophobic activists known as the Brown Shirts organized under the National Socialist German Workers' Party.
This zealous sub-culture was united ideologically by avant-guard ideas including a 1920's version of 'back to the land, back to nature' movements and a pagan or pre-Roman Germanic religious ideology. They were further united in actions intended to create a group dynamic that was difficult for an individual with-in the group to act independently of. The groups common actions included violently attacking anti-nazi activists and the labelling of Jewish businesses and homes with the word "Juden" (meaning Jew) with an 'X' through it. A way of communicating to the larger culture that this group of terrorists was acting to solve the extreme unemployment crisis gripping the country by forcing Jewish merchants to give back what they had 'stolen' from the the Germanic people; a rhetoric which twisted Marxist ideology and thus served to divide the people from the Nazi's most outspoken critics, the communist and socialist parties, who were in turn, fighting each other. Later, on a chosen night, the smashing of the windows of those businesses and then as the terror spread, the expulsion of these people from their property and the confiscation of their belongings. Then the expulsion of the people themselves, men women and children shipped by train to resettlement camps 'for their safety' - from the Brown Shirts. Jews, communists, socialists, union leaders and others who spoke against the fascist Nazi party were taken to industrialized extermination factories like Dachau and Bergen Belsen.
(nb: I found no source saying Lily Tomlin said the quote in the title. It's making the rounds right now so maybe adding to this good disinformation thread will help spur her to either confirm or deny she coined the great line.)
Update: July 13 2010
I received this email from Lily Tomlin's assistant:
Dear Michael: On your recent blog you credit Lily Tomlin with the quote,"Maybe if people listened, history wouldn't keep repeating itself."
- Lily Tomlin
Lily has asked me to email you to say the quote is written by her partner, Jane Wagner. Many quotes attributed to Lily are written by Jane and used in the material with which Lily is identified. Jane and Lily have been working together for many, many years.
assistant to Lily Tomlin & Jane Wagner
Thanks for the kind note Janice.
Thanks for the quotation Jane Wagner it's an important sentiment I think, especially now.
And thank you Ms. Tomlin for taking the time to write.