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The Nation Attacks John “Don’t Touch My Junk” Tyner

The Nation strings together some innuendo to launder a conspiracy theory lobbed by an anonymous TSA official about John “Don’t Touch My Junk” Tyner, and calls it a story.

Progressives were justifiably upset when Michelle Malkin and the right wing went after Graham Frost and his family for speaking up about health care during the Bush administration.  But apparently it wasn’t the tactic that was appalling, it was just the target:

In fact, this whole campaign feels a bit like déjà-vu: As the first reporters to expose the Tea Party as an Astroturf PR campaign funded by FreedomWorks and Koch-related front groups back in February, 2009, we see many of the same elements driving the current “rebellion” against the TSA: Koch-related libertarians, Washington lobbyists and PR operatives posing as “ordinary citizens,” and suspicious fake-grassroots outrage relentlessly promoted in the same old right-wing echo chamber.

Seriously?  Is there evidence of this? No, it’s just guilt by (perceived) association, an attack on a government critic.  It’s no different from what the Bush administration did to Valerie Plame and Joe Wilson.

The nation recoils in horror that Tyner (and others) define themselves as “libertarians.” It’s a retreat into values-free tribalist blather, and Glenzilla responds:

In order to do what Tyner did — firmly assert one’s rights against government agents and then vocally and publicly complain about rights infringements — one has to take one’s liberty seriously.  After all, to do something like that is to risk being threatened by the Federal Government and smeared by journalists loyal to those in power.  It’s hardly surprising that many of the people willing to do that have incorporated the concept of liberty into their political identity.  The Nation may want to ask someone what the “L” in the ACLU stands for.

And therein lies the most odious premise in this smear piece:  anyone who doesn’t quietly,  meekly and immediately submit to Government orders and invasions — or anyone who stands up to government power and challenges it — is inherently suspect.  Just as the establishment-worshiping, political-power-defending Ruth Marcus taught us today in The Washington Post, objecting to what the Government is doing here is just immature and ungrateful; mature, psychologically healthy people shut up and submit.  That’s how you prove that you’re a normal, responsible, upstanding good citizen:  by not making waves, doing what you’re told, declaring yourself a loyal Republican or Democrat and then cheering for your team, and — most of all — accepting in the name of Fear that you must suffer indignities, humiliations and always-increasing loss of liberties at the hands of unchallengeable functionaries of the state.  I don’t really care what political label John Tyner applies to himself:  we need far more of his civil resistance in our citizenry and far less of the mindless obedient drone behavior which these Nation writers seem to venerate.

I’ve talked to Tyner. It’s literally impossible to have a conversation with the guy and come away with the impression that he’s a publicity-seeking political operative. He was unprepared for what happened in the aftermath, and was primarily concerned with protecting his family. In his interview with the Nation, he completely undercuts their entire premise:  “I can’t set up the TSA side of this action,” he said.

But writers Mark Ames and Yasha Levine had an agenda, and they carried it through the journalistic “process” from start to finish:

At least one local TSA administrator wondered if Tyner hadn’t come to the airport prepared to create a scandal.

There is absolutely no legitimate journalistic reason, none, to grant anonymity to this TSA official.  It’s pure supposition.  There is nothing in his realm of expertise that leads him to this conclusion, it’s just a hunch, completely unsubstantiated, advanced for the purpose of attacking the integrity of a government critic — on a day when the government is trying to head off further civil disobedience.

It’s obscene that The Nation published this hit piece.  There’s nothing “liberal” about using your platform to launder unsubstantiated attacks by government officials against individual citizens who criticize them. They owe everyone involved an apology, and unless they can provide proof for the claims they make, they should print a retraction.

You can download this sheet to print and take with you to the airport: Know Your Passenger Rights (PDF)

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Jane Hamsher

Jane Hamsher

Jane is the founder of Her work has also appeared on the Huffington Post, Alternet and The American Prospect. She’s the author of the best selling book Killer Instinct and has produced such films Natural Born Killers and Permanent Midnight. She lives in Washington DC.
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