"There is that U.S. DNA that goes all the way back and does provide the conceptual source for this lynch mob mentality," says Steve Martinot, who teaches at San Francisco State University. "And that is white supremacy. Shouldn't we be looking at the Tea Party through that?"
Perlstein moves around the question. "The thing that makes America different, and this is a very dialectical, paradoxical concept, is that we have a lot of democracy," he says. "The idea that everyone has an opinion of about what they're hearing is both the glory and the tragedy of American democracy."
And this one:
"I wonder if we're likely to see a Timothy McVeigh situation," says Nicholas Robert, an attendee originally from Australia, who basically wonders if any Tea Partiers can be arrested. "It seems to be that we're being very polite. I wonder if there are any legal mechanisms—one that comes to mind are the provisions used to crush the Wobblies."
He gets no sympathy from the academics. "I think that's a dangerous road to go down," says Berlet.
Abramowitz finds me and whispers into my ear. "In Berkeley," he says, "you're seeing the other side of polarization."
Yeah. Sheesh. I mean, I said this before, but sometimes people just bring heat on themselves. This reads like an Onion article, I swear.