It has been a riot watching the tea-baggers on the news, and reading stories about them. Tea-baggers, those are the people showing up at the so-called tea parties all over the U.S. They remind me of the “brown shirts” and other manipulated fools in history who got sucked into doing the dirty work for people who use them, but also look down on them with contempt. Useful idiots you could call them.

Sadly, most of them are not idiots, and in most circumstances normal, decent people whose biggest mistake is to let others do their thinking for them. People who have abandoned reason in favour of reacting with emotion rather than logic.

Recently Steve Lopes of the Los Angeles Times decided to check out people who were fans of Glenn Beck. Beck of course is one of Fox News’ hate-mongers that lights the fire under the tea-baggers. There are groups around the country dedicated to him. You might say they are his disciples.

One person that Lopez talked to said “I’ve seen documentation that states people will be considered terrorists if they wear blue jeans and talk excessively about the constitution.” He went on to say that President Obama has a “socialist, communist, fascist agenda.” Wow! I guess that he either couldn’t make up his mind or has no idea what communism, fascism and socialism are. Ideologies that lead in three separate directions. Kind of reminds one of little children in a name-calling spat using big words that they have heard, but have no knowledge of what they mean. Childish, of course, pretty much sums up these people.

Fox News and their ilk would like the world to believe that these gatherings of tea-baggers protesting President Obama represent a grassroots uprising. They are nothing of the sort. While Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh and the other reactionary demagogues stoke the fires, behind the scenes lies a multi-million dollar lobbying industry that creates these groups for their clients. Instead of grassroots they are really astroturf.

On one of the news clips of a town hall meeting that I saw recently, one of the tea-bagger women was ranting and raving about losing America, and how the country now is not the one that she grew up in. One wonders where she was when Ronald Reagan killed the one that people my age grew up in, and where she was when Bush and Cheney chopped it up.

What world was she referring to? The one that had legal racial discrimination where white people, no matter how poor or ignorant could still feel superior to someone and have that feeling reinforced by law and custom? Is that what these tea-baggers are all about? It can’t be about saving their health care since it is pretty much universally understood that it is in bad need of repair.

I do have some sympathy for those that want their America back. I want mine back, too. I want the America that had half the population that it has now. One where there were plenty of fish, lots of game and most of your food came from local or near local sources and wasn’t enhanced with chemicals whose names have more letters than the alphabet.

I would certainly be on board if the America that was wanted back was the one where the rich paid a fair share of the taxes, upwards of 90 per cent of income in the 1950s, and schools were properly funded, not forced to make sponsorship deals with giant corporations and to pimp junk food to their students in order to meet expenses. Bringing those things back would be an improvement.

Of course those are not the goals of the people behind the tea-baggers, and all of the vitriol that they are stirring up could be disastrous for the country as it splits society into two irreconcilable factions. Perhaps they should remember that 150 years ago when the country split it cost over a million military and civilian lives before the tea-baggers were brought under control.

Jerry West is the publisher, editor and janitor for The Record, an independent, progressive regional publication for Nootka Sound and Canada’s West Coast.