06.30.2010 0

Who the Tea Parties Really Are

  • On: 07/23/2010 10:37:53
  • In: Conservative Movement
  • By Robert Romano

    The malicious attacks by members of Congress and now the NAACP against the grassroots tea party movement continue. This is just the latest example of a concerted effort to delegitimize and intimidate the American people from petitioning their government for a redress of its blatant overreach and regulation into every aspect of their lives.

    So effective has the movement been throughout 2009 and 2010, and so quickly has it spread, that the political response by Democrat Congressional leaders almost from the beginning has been to smear it. After all, in politics, perception is reality, and if a group that represents tens of millions of Americans can be marginalized, they will be less effective.

    So previously, House Majority Whip James Clyburn has claimed that tea parties were a “kind of terrorism.” Others have alleged that activists shouted racial epithets at members of Congress on March 20th at a protest against the health care bill, as reported by the American Thinker. Still others have attested that acts of vandalism were linked to the tea parties.

    Majority Whip Clyburn’s attacks followed House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, who wrote an oped in USA Today calling opponents “un-American”. Congressman Steve Kagen called opponents “uncivilized,” and Congressman Baron Hill called them “political terrorists.”

    Congressman Brian Baird called opponents of ObamaCare “Brown Shirts” and compared them to domestic terrorists, “Some of the rhetoric that we’re hearing is… eerily reminiscent of the kind of things that drove Tim McVeigh to bomb the federal building in Oklahoma.”

    These statements are merely a caricature. They are intended to marginalize and intimidate a true grassroots movement whose mission is to rein in government before it consumes everything in its path. The purpose is to oppose government policies that exceed the Constitution’s mandate, and to support those that promise to restore limited government.

    For anyone who has been to a tea party or even simply seen any of the thousands of pictures of tea parties holding signs and legitimately protesting, they would be laughable if they were not so hurtful.

    There are thousands of locally-organized groups called “tea parties” that since the beginning of 2009 have staged tens of thousands local protests throughout the country against government bailouts and takeovers of companies, against ObamaCare, against too much spending, against the financial takeover, against capping carbon emissions and a national energy tax, and on and on.

    The inspiration for the movement itself was Rick Santelli’s emotional appeal against foreclosure bailouts on the floor of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, where homeowners who paid their bills on time and in full were being asked to also assume the costs of their neighbors who were delinquent in their payments and not credit-worthy to begin with.

    Since then, the movement has stood against the bailouts of delinquent borrowers, Bear Stearns, AIG, GM, and Chrysler; the $150 billion nationalization of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac; the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program; the Federal Reserve more than doubling the money supply; the $862 billion “stimulus”; the government takeover of the financial sector; and the $2.5 trillion health care bill.

    Tea party and other citizen activists that I communicate with everyday know the charges being leveled against them are false. Sharon Long writes in, “I am 65 years old and in my lifetime I have never been so concerned or scared for our country. The tea party stands for everything that is right for our liberty and freedom. I want my children and grandchildren to grow up in a free country and enjoy the same freedoms that I have had in my life. Our country is going in the wrong direction.”

    Another, “Woodland Golfer,” writes, “I am a long-time conservative Republican. I love my country. The tea party stands for everything I believe in. Plain and simple. I want to see my fellow Republicans stand behind those people who have the courage to speak out about the direction this Administration and the Democrats are taking this nation.”

    Bob C. believes that the attacks against the tea parties must be counted. He writes, “It’s imperative that ‘we, the people’ succeed in preventing such doctrines from destroying this nation — including divisiveness among races. Truth is all that may win out in the end; but if that is all we have, by God, that shield can never be surrendered!”

    Vonnie De Ricoi writes, “I am a member of the tea party. I am a lacrosse grandma from a retirement village in Sun City Center, FL. I am not a racist. I love everyone and I love my country!”

    Diane Benjamin, a tea party regional coordinator, disagrees with the attacks on the movement as well. She writes, “A lot of us actually believe in ‘judging people on their character — not the color of their skin.’ The left’s race-baiting days are over — we will not be intimidated!”

    Another, “Bort Walk,” writes from his Blackberry of the tea parties, “They are the true image of America. Our people should not forget who we really are. I love my country. At 76 years.”

    Hundreds more activists yesterday took the time write their testimonials and experiences with the tea party movement to their members of Congress and as letters to the editor to newspapers and other media outlets across the country. Because they care. They care about their country and the direction it is going in.

    And they are not going to stand for being unjustly smeared for speaking up, which is all they are doing.

    It turns out the NAACP had a little trouble with using a broad brush, too.

    As the organization was preparing to condemn the tea party movement as racist, it instantly had to amend its draft resolution it was asking members to adopt. Why? Initially, the resolution called on “all people of good will to repudiate the racism of the Tea Parties” which were intending “to push our country back to the pre-civil rights era.”

    There was a major problem, however, with this approach. It was so broad as to defame the entire movement as a racist one. That its express purpose was to advance a racial agenda. Only, the tea party movement has nothing to do with endorsing racial supremacy, racial segregation, nor does the movement endorse laws that treat individuals differently on the basis of race. Its memberships are racially diverse. It does not even primarily address issues surrounding race as a matter of policy.

    That is simply not what the tea party is. It does not even have national leadership per se with which to “isolate” any element within the movement.

    And the NAACP knew it, knew that the movement, with thousands of locally-organized “chapters” nationwide could not be defamed with a broad brush and mischaracterized as espousing ideas that not even a remote fraction of the groups so organized endorse. The resolution could not label the entire movement as “racist” because it was demonstrably false.

    So, the resolution was amended. It now calls for the repudiation of “the racist element and activities within the tea party,” according to Hilary Shelton, director of the NAACP’s Washington bureau.

    The problem is that they still got it wrong. It explicitly accepts the premise that there is something inherently racist about the movement. The NAACP has posted seven photos (two of the same person) of what it says are the racist elements in the movement, which originated from the Center for American Progress.

    But the fact is, nobody carrying a sign, for example, that is racist can call truly themselves a tea party activist anyway. It just has simply nothing to do with the true message being espoused by the movement as a whole — which is a message to government and to fellow Americans to change course of the nation’s policies.

    Compared with the thousands of pictures of tea parties that show signs that call for the defeat of proposed legislation or the reining in of the national debt, Nonetheless, the NAACP wants these “elements” rooted out. They want Ms. De Ricoi to be watchful at her retirement home — just in case. And Ms. Long and Ms. Benjamin, too.

    Again, the absurdity would be laughable if its effects were not so malevolent. There is a legitimate, limited government movement embodied by the tea parties. I know who they are because I communicate with thousands of them every day. And they deserve the right to speak freely as anyone else against their government without fear of being smeared by elected officials and other organizations.

    A lie repeated often enough never becomes the truth. The tea parties deserve an apology.

    Robert Romano is the Senior Editor of Americans for Limited Government (ALG) News Bureau.

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