Outcrazying The Crazy: How A Prankster Plans To Infiltrate And Destroy The Tea Party Movement
|An Oregon technology consultant is the leader of Crash The Tea Party, a plan to take down the tea party from the inside. "Our plan is not to shout them down," Levin told me yesterday, "but to infiltrate them and push them farther from the mainstream."
Levin's group of protesters plan to get in the heads of tea partiers at the Tax Day Tea Parties nationwide Thursday and manipulate them right out of relevance. They'll dress like tea partiers, talk like tea partiers and carry signs like tea partiers. In fact, according to Levin they'll be completely indistinguishable from tea partiers, except for one thing -- they won't be out-crazied by anyone.
"Our goal is that whenever a tea partier says 'Barack Obama was not born in America,' we're going be right right there next to them saying, 'yeah, in fact he wasn't born on Earth! He's an alien!" Levin explained. He said that by making the tea parties sound like a gathering of crazy people -- his group's goal -- the movement will lose its power.
Levin said he got the idea from a counter-protest to the infamous Westboro Baptist Church group held outside Twitter headquarters in January. Levin said the Westboro group broke up after counter-protesters showed up holding signs "even crazier" than the ones held by the Westboro group. "They realized they couldn't get their message out, so they just left" Levin said.
I asked him if he was worried publicly proclaiming that the most extreme people at the tea party rallies could be plants might help the movement he's trying to destroy. The tea party movement is struggling with its own identity, and some in the movement have already claimed that some of the darker chapters in its history (such as the death threats that came after the health care vote) were fantasies created by liberal infiltrators. Levin said no matter what the tea parties say about his plans, it's a "win-win" for his group.
"What can they say?" he said. "Either we've infiltrated their group so pervasively that they might as well hang it up, or we haven't infiltrated them that much they really are just racists."
Levin said he has 66 member groups (and growing) across the country planning to fan out at tea party gatherings on Thursday.
And while it's not clear how big the group actually is, or how serious the effort will be, the idea has already set off a small panic among tea partiers and their supporters. Levin said all the attention just serves to make his plan more successful.
"How do you spot a fake tea partier? Do they have a tea bag tattooed on their forehead?" he said. "Thanks to us, the next time you're at a tea party and you see a guy with a misspelled sign you'll have to say 'is this guy an idiot? Or is he just an infiltrator?"
[Followup note: this effort failed, but it seems it could be done in other situations. This is a similar tactic to the one used by police, who sometimes infiltrate a peaceful protest with provocateurs who try to incite the demonstrators to violence."]
|Setting:||Developed World, Urban, Village|
|Extent of Action:||National|
|Issues:||Human Rights, Social Change|
|Outcome||failed (but potentially successful in other circumstances)|
|Prepared By:||alb, 9/10|