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The Tea Party stands as a moral challenge to the status quo. It’s not a third-party movement. It’s an extra-party movement. It’s not political. It’s philosophical. It is a manifestation of the market, an example of how free minds and free will seep through the cracks of the established paradigm to fulfill unmet needs.

Although it did not manifest in rallies and town halls until 2009, the seeds of the Tea Party were planted 15 years earlier. Republicans took control of Congress in 1994, propelled by the Contract with America. The sweeping reforms Republicans pledged to attempt were largely unsuccessful, an outcome they could lay at the feet of President Clinton. Nonetheless, the perception among rank-and-file conservatives was that the Republicans failed to deliver.

Republican credibility was further eroded when the party held both the White House and Congress during the presidency of George W. Bush. After years of listening to pundits suggest that Democrats were the sole driving force behind ever-expanding government, conservatives watched in awe as Republicans drove the ship of state 180 degrees away from every principle they ran on.

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When President Barack Obama announced to the world that Osama bin Laden was killed by American forces in Pakistan, he made sure to distinguish the Al-Qaeda leader’s career of terror from any religious affiliation.

… the United States is not –- and never will be -– at war with Islam. I’ve made clear, just as President Bush did shortly after 9/11, that our war is not against Islam. Bin Laden was not a Muslim leader;

Conservative talk radio host Bill Cunningham, who was on the air at the time of Obama’s announcement, took the president’s claim further and suggested that Bin Laden was not a Muslim at all. Such remarks are based upon the premise that Islam must be “perverted” or “distorted” in order to justify violence in its name.

Someone forgot to send that memo to an imam operating out of the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem.

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Editor’s Note: This list post is presented as part of NewsReal Blog Weekend Double Feature. The original of this list  can be read here. Check out the other half of this double feature — Walter’s list on the political themes in “Star Trek” here.

Science fiction and fantasy have always been ideal genres for exploring controversial political, religious, and philosophical ideas. The absurdity of circumstance in which such stories are set serve to detach an audience from reality, creating a kind of hypothetical laboratory for exploring thoughts which might be rejected elsewhere.

As a libertarian conservative and a life-long Star Wars fan, I was somewhat taken aback by 2005’s culminative installment Revenge of the Sith. Politics had dominated much of the prequel trilogy, but had been kept within the context of the story. Sith was different, as New York Times film critic A. O. Scott noted.

Mr. Lucas is clearly jabbing his light saber in the direction of some real-world political leaders. At one point, Darth Vader, already deep in the thrall of the dark side and echoing the words of George W. Bush, hisses at Obi-Wan, ‘If you’re not with me, you’re my enemy.’ Obi-Wan’s response is likely to surface as a bumper sticker during the next election campaign: ‘Only a Sith thinks in absolutes.’


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Editor’s Note: This list post was first published here. It’s presented as part of NewsReal Blog Weekend Double Feature. This afternoon we’ll also be republishing Walter’s list post on the conservative themes of Star Wars, the original of which can be read here.

Science fiction affords storytellers the opportunity to couch political ideas within fantastic metaphors. In this way, ideas can be explored which might otherwise seem objectionable. In some cases, an audience might not consciously realize they are being influenced to think a certain way.

Perhaps the greatest example of science fiction writing which has pushed a particular ideology upon the popular culture is Star Trek. Over the course of nearly five decades, the brand has expanded from televisions series into feature films, countless books, fan conventions, and mounts of merchandise.

Why has Star Trek been so popular? Creator Gene Roddenberry attributed the original series’ success to the philosophy it espoused.


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Editor’s note: click here for NRB’s comic artist Bosch Fawstin’s take on this issue.

Once upon a time, superheroes were a source of comfort and escape from the difficulties and ugliness of real life. While real-life recession and terrorism aren’t likely to meet any tidy resolutions soon, we can always count on Batman to solve the Riddler’s latest puzzle just in time, or Spider-Man to save the damsel in distress (well, usually).

Somewhere along the line, though, it was decided that our heroes had to grapple with real-world issues. When done sparingly and handled well, this can elevate the genre, such as Harry Osborn’s battle with drugs or 2008’s brilliant The Dark Knight. But more often than not, such efforts these days instead result in train wrecks of heavy-handed political proselytizing and moral confusion.

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