The American Conservative Union hosts the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) annually as the premier DC networking event for the Republican elite and its adoring activists. Presidential candidates and political heavyweights like Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum, John Boehner, and Sarah Palin were all in attendance to galvanize the troops against the progressive left. CPAC featured such egalitarian fare as “The Failure of Multiculturalism: How the Pursuit of Diversity is Weakening the American Identity” moderated by white nationalist Robert Vandervoort; “The ‘Right’ View,” a dissection of “The View” and diatribe against ‘radical feminists’ Joy Behar, Gloria Steinem, and Planned Parenthood; and the Red Carpet Blogger awards featuring Chris Loesch performing his rap song “Mr. America” with the charming play on “knickers” for the N word…
But that’s not the N word I want to discuss. That N word is Nazi, a word that both Chris Loesch and his Tea Party blogger wife Dana Loesch employ with great abandon. Dana is the Editor-in-Chief of Andrew Breitbart’s Big Journalism and a co-founder of the St. Louis Tea Party. Breitbart, you might recall, is the blogger who famously launched the entirely fictitious attack on Agriculture Department official Shirley Sherrod, whom he accused of making anti-white remarks in a speech, when he knew in fact she was promoting racial tolerance.
I had the opportunity to speak with the couple following the Saturday panel “Taking Back Wall Street: The Tea Party vs. Occupy Wall Street,” featuring six Tea Partiers, and no Occupiers. Seeking to open dialogue with the Tea Party and to address allegations that I knew to be patently false as a member of the Occupy LA Media team, I approached the pair and their entourage. I immediately apologized for interrupting the group and identified myself in name and affiliation. They were startled, but amenable to conversation, a sketch of which follows…
Me: Hello, I’m so sorry for interrupting you all. My name is Lauren Windsor, and I’m a member of the Occupy Los Angeles Media team. I was hoping to open a dialogue with you since you had no Occupiers on your panel.
Dana: Of course, of course, I’d be happy to talk to you.
Chris: We love to talk to Occupiers who are actually civil. Normally they shout and chase us.
Dana: Yeah, I get called “Jew-bitch” all the time. I don’t know where they get that—I’m not even Jewish.
Me: Well, I certainly don’t condone that. We are a peaceful movement. I wanted to address some of your earlier statements. You said that we needed to be protesting the White House rather than Wall Street, which in fact we did—two weeks ago for Occupy Congress and Occupy the Courts.
Dana: Yes, and the Occupiers shot at the White House.
Me: Um, no, I was there, and no one shot at the White House.
Dana: Well, they threw smoke bombs.
Me: You also said that Tea Partiers protest for free, but that the Occupiers get paid $60 a day… Actually, the vast majority of Occupiers are not getting paid for their work, they protest because they have personal experiences that have led them to action. Like you, we are fed up and not going to take it anymore! I am not getting paid to do this!
Dana (looking into my eyes, and sizing me up): No, I don’t believe you are getting paid. I think you are doing it from passion.
Me: We have a lot of common ground on financial issues. Anger at the banking bailouts started with the Tea Party. Would you be willing to participate in a debate with both Tea Party and Occupy members?
Dana: Yes, of course, I’d be happy to help facilitate that.
Me: Would you be willing to say that on camera? (As I’m pulling out my camera, I realize the battery is dead!)…
Dana: Yes, of course.
Me: Wow, my camera isn’t working, I must have left the switch on.
Chris: You don’t need it on film. Just e-mail Dana, and give me your e-mail. We’ll set something up…
Me: Ok, great, I hope you really mean it, because there really is a lot of common ground.
Chris: Yeah, there is for sure, but the fundamental difference is that you guys want government to take care of you from cradle to grave…
Me: Well, I’m a libertarian—a civil libertarian—and I believe in single payer because healthcare should be a right and not a privilege. There is a fundamental conflict of interest in a healthcare system that places profits over people.
Chris: See, that’s the problem. You get the government in control of our healthcare—the best healthcare in the world—and it’s a slippery slope to Nazi Socialism.
Me: Whoa! Nazi Socialism!? In what respect?
Chris: That’s the correct term for it! That’s where Socialism originated.
Me (bewildered): Um, no, it didn’t.
Dana: Yes, it did. Look it up. He’s technically correct.
Me (scratching head): Uh, ok… Can we at least agree to drop the term ‘Nazi’?
Dana & Chris: But it’s technically correct!
Me (more bewildered): Dropping the word ‘Nazi’ in any political conversation automatically discolors the dialogue…
Dana & Chris: No, but you really need to look at history. Nazi…
Me: We are really going to have to agree to disagree on that and move on…
Former military guy in their entourage: You think everything is okay until it’s not. Like the guy sitting in a café in Cuba before Castro got elected, or in Venezuela before Chavez. See, if Obama gets another term, he’s going to repeal the 22nd amendment. Then he won’t have to deal with term limits, and will install himself as Dictator.
Me (head reeling): Um, ok, wow… I really appreciate the dialogue, but I think we should continue this conversation in the debate. I really look forward to it…
As we exchanged farewells and thanks, I walked away with the fantasy of a Tea Party/Occupy debate full of Hitler, Nazis, Castro, and Communists playing in my head. I pondered the cognitive dissonance that is required to believe that progressives are somehow both fascist (what Nazis really were) and communist. But it’s not cognitive dissonance that is required at all—it’s either ignorance or deliberate calculation, and fear mongering—to conflate disparate boogeymen to advance divisive propaganda.
When I arrived home to my computer to tweet the day’s adventures, I found that Dana Loesch had quickly blocked me as a Twitter follower… so much for a real debate between the Tea Party and Occupy… so much for opening dialogue and finding common ground… I still won’t call her a Nazi, though.
Footnote: A quick history lesson for Chris & Dana Loesch… Socialism and Nazi Socialism are two quite different political ideologies. The former is rooted in the French Revolution of 1789, the Industrial Revolution, and The Communist Manifesto authored by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels in 1848. The latter, a variant of nationalist fascism, emerged in Germany after WWI with the rise of totalitarian Adolf Hitler, who it should be noted, also killed Socialists (known as Social Democrats) and Communists.