One’s a greasy-haired grappler who calls himself “a real American” and fancies the Gadsden flag. The other is a bushy-bearded hype man who praises the Constitution and blames illegal immigrants for, well, just about everything.
Together, Jack Swagger and Zeb Colter are World Wrestling Entertainment’s newest villains — proud heirs to the jerkish, loudmouthed, backstabbing tradition of Nikolai Volkoff, the Iron Sheik and Gulf War-era Iraqi sympathizer Sgt. Slaughter.
For Tea Party conservatives, the duo also has become a source of unexpected cultural angst, the equivalent of a metal folding chair to the back of the head.
“Did George Soros buy the WWE?” said radio host Glenn Beck during his Wednesday broadcast. “Is this a Cass Sunstein presentation?
“I’m sick and tired of being miscast. I am sick and tired of it. It is lazy at best … you’re mocking me for standing up for the Constitution of the United States of America? You’re mocking me for standing up for law and order?”
Better question: Has professional wrestling — a popular, bipartisan pastime of oiled pecs, punishing piledrivers and I-can’t-belive-what-I-just-saw! plot twists — turned heel on conservatives?
Sure seems like it.
Introduced to a national television audience less than two weeks ago, Mr. Swagger and Mr. Colter embody every unpalatable Tea Party stereotype. Xenophobic at best, downright racist at worst, possessing truly terrible facial hair all the while, the two want nothing more in the world than to deport Mexican immigrants.
As in: all of them.
Mr. Swagger and Mr. Colter use “Don’t tread on me” and “We the people” as catch-phrases. (Hint, hint). They appear in the ring with Gadsden flags. (Elbow in the ribs). According to WWE announcers, they receive regular fan mail from Mr. Beck and conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh. (Do we have to spell it out?)
Unsurprisingly, actual conservatives and Tea Party supporters are less than thrilled.
Conservative commentator Michelle Malkin mocked the gimmick. On Twitter, users called the characters a “top 5 low point” and asked “WWE … do you still want my money?” A non-bylined article posted on the conservative news site Breitbart.com opined “it’s hard to imagine a bigger [public relations] blunder. Expect a mea culpa any minute now.”
An article posted on InfoWars.com — a website run by Piers Morgan gun control foil Alex Jones — labeled the storyline “demonization” and suggested that the WWE’s creation of Mr. Swagger and Mr. Colter were part of a larger, ongoing struggle between moderate and conservative Republicans.
“The fact that WWE is owned by Vince and Linda McMahon, who are part of the Republican establishment, also tells us a lot about how grass roots conservatives and libertarians are viewed by those near the top of the power structure,” wrote Paul Joseph Watson.View Entire Story
© Copyright 2013 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
Patrick Hruby is an award-winning journalist who holds degrees from Georgetown and Northwestern. He also contributes to ESPN.com and The Atlantic Online, and his work has been featured in The Best American Sports Writing. Follow him on Twitter (@patrick_hruby) and contact him at PatrickHruby.net.
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