The Tea Party has taken a number of hits this week. Some of those associated with this movement have assumed an absolutist position on the debt ceiling debate that could make it difficult if not impossible to resolve the crisis on terms even most Republicans could accept. But while it is one thing to call them obstructionist, has the tone of public discourse in this country sunk so low that it is acceptable to call them terrorists?

Apparently the New York Times and its Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Thomas Friedman think so.

In his column today, Friedman sticks up for President Obama’s position on raising taxes more than Senate Democrats have done. But it isn’t enough for him to rant about Tea Partiers being “ignorant” and having no notion of “national greatness.” He has to call them the “Hezbollah faction” of the Republican Party.

While Friedman is using the word Hezbollah as some kind of a metaphor, he knows enough about Lebanon to know the difference between an American political movement and a terrorist organization. You may disagree with the Tea Party, but how many people have they murdered? The answer is zero, though liberals have treated this broad-based faction that more or less won the 2010 congressional elections for the GOP in abusive terms. In fact, far from being akin to a violent Islamist group, the Tea Party exemplifies the essence of democracy in that it is a grass roots movement that reflects the views of a significant number of Americans.

As much as Friedman, like President Obama, likes to pose as being above the fray of petty factions, he is not so much arguing with the Tea Party as he is attempting to delegitimize them.  Al -Qaeda, Hamas and Hezbollah are not metaphors, anymore than the word Nazi or Communist. If anyone who disagrees with Friedman and the Times mindset can be labeled the moral equivalent of a terrorist, then what sort of outrage can we muster against actual killers?