As I watched the Chick-Fil-A controversy unfold during the past week or so, I was struck with how similar it was to the Tea Party uproar a couple of years ago.
To understand middle America’s support for Chick-Fil-A is to understand middle America’s support for the Tea Party, and vice versa. Unfortunately progressives have proven once again that they understand neither.
When middle class Americans come together in support of something tagged as disgraceful by progressives, the largely progressive news media’s ability to engage in fair reporting is seriously impaired. Their usual method of dealing with such shameful behavior is to simply ignore it and hope it goes away. The Tea Party was ignored by the media until it became significantly large; then it was portrayed as a group of ordinary (read: “ignorant”) people who were simply “angry” but who were not smart enough to understand their anger. At its worst, the national media mocked Tea Party protestors as backwards, illiterate rednecks. Most mainstream press coverage of Tea Party rallies ignored the aggregate size of the movement and the friendly, respectful attitude of the protestors, who often left venues cleaner than when they arrived.
Yet media coverage of the Occupy movement overflowed with sympathetic portraits of the protestors and generally ignored the vandalism, theft, and serious violent crime that regularly occurred in the Occupy camps. They also failed to note that the overall size of the Occupy protests was significantly smaller that the turnout for Tea Party rallies.
In a similar fashion, most mainstream newspapers all but ignored Chick-Fil-A Appreciation Day, although NBC and ABC news covered the event fairly. Of course, deciding to ignore Appreciation Day meant that fair coverage of Chick-Fil-A “Kiss-In” day was also impossible. “Kiss-In” was supposed to be an LBGT protest of Appreciation Day, but how do you explain this to your readers/viewers if you completely ignored Appreciation Day? Bloggers and social media posts covering Kiss-In events noted that media presence often outnumbered protesters (funny how often we see this at leftist-themed protests), and that the number of Kiss-In participants on Friday was dwarfed by the huge crowds who showed up on Appreciation Day, although the Kiss-In rallies received much more mainstream media buzz.
So what’s the problem? Why are things like the Tea Party and Chick-Fil-A Appreciation Day so difficult for progressives to understand? And at the same time, why are they so enamored with Occupy Wall Street and the Chick-Fil-A Kiss-In? Progressives surely recognize the true grassroots nature of the Tea Party and Appreciation Day, yet they genuinely don’t seem to know what to do with it, because “grassroots” has been exclusively associated with poverty and “worker’s revolution” in progressive teaching. They are simply stumped by “protest” movements where the protesters are generally happy with the way things have been, and are protesting against change, or to keep things the way they have been.
Instead of answering this question, I’d like to invite the WizBang authors and readers to offer their own thoughts.
A hint (which I will explore in a future post) regarding the worldview of progressives on all things “suburban” (which is the home of both the Tea Party movement and Chick-Fil-A) can be found here: Spreading the Wealth: How Obama is Robbing the Suburbs to Pay for the Cities, the new book by Stanley Kurtz. Here is a summary by Kurtz, from National Review Online.