“Tea Party” Deserves Better than Leftist Accusations

So, my first post here comes nearly one week after I joined thousands of patriots from across this great country to converge on the nation’s Capital to make my voice heard on the issue of health care.  But it was for much more than just the issue of health care that thousands of people amassed at the Capitol and the offices of U.S. Congress members–personal freedom and state’s rights were about to be abridged, and with just one vote of Congress!

Americans from places like Minnesota, New York, Iowa, and many other states hopped in their cars and on flights, fired up about health care and ready to exercise their right to free speech and to peaceably assemble on Capitol Hill; I was one of those protesting Americans moving about the Hill on Saturday [March 20] from the Capitol to the Rayburn House Office Building to demand Congress to listen to our concerns over the health care bill, the ever expanding federal government, and the intrusion into our personal lives–most recently and notably through the pork-filled health care bill.  Much controversy has arisen from the Tea Party protests that occurred in D.C. over the weekend, claims of racial and anti-gay slurs directed toward members of Congress and even an account of a Congress member being spat on by protesters.  I have a different account of what I witnessed that day and my college friend, Tommy Felts, managing editor for The Ottawa Herald in Kansas, captured my account in a recent article:

The latest “proof” of racism in the TEA Party ranks came this weekend, as protesters rallied at the U.S. Capitol to voice opposition to the House’s vote on health care legislation. A couple of black lawmakers and one openly gay House member reported to the media protesters used slurs against them, one saying he even was spat upon by a TEA Party member.

Some Republicans bent over backward to immediately apologize, calling the incidents “isolated” and “reprehensible.”

But the protesters who actually were at the rally?

They say the slurs and spitting never happened.

Surely, these lawmakers wouldn’t be trying simply to once again malign Obama opponents with the oldest Democratic trick in the book (the race card), right?

Surely, there’s video evidence to back up their claims? (I mean, come on … if we have video of Vice President Joe Biden calling the health care reform bill a “big f—–g deal,” we definitely have video of the protesters’ alleged offensive comments, don’t we?)

Will we ever know what really happened?

I wasn’t there. Chances are, neither were you.

Fortunately, a college buddy of mine was among the protesters amassed Saturday in Washington. He agreed to share his account of the rally.

“The only comments I heard this weekend over and over again were persuasive comments directed at Congress to ‘kill the bill’ and comments asking Congress not to strip our personal liberties from us,” he told me.

And the slurs supposedly shouted by protesters? Well, he has a unique perspective on that, too.

“As someone who is a gay libertarian and votes conservative, I value the principles of liberty and freedom, as well as my personal dignity as a gay American. I was at the TEA Party protest all day Saturday … and I can tell you that I did not hear a single racial epithet or slur toward the gay community or any minority group.

“I can assure you that if at any point I felt unsafe or heard epithets and slurs I would have left, because the true meaning of the rally would have been lost,” he said. “The purpose of the rally was for people of all backgrounds, religions, races, orientations and economic status to come together for the common cause of persuading Congress not to impede on state’s rights or to impose a government mandated policy on Americans that affects every American in such a big way.”

Does that sound like the rant of a crazy racist?

My friend — an unabashedly gay Libertarian from California — doesn’t quite fit into the tidy little story line about TEA Party protesters as presented by Obama and the left.

That’s because their story is a lie.

“I witnessed a renewed spirit of patriotism unseen since the days following 9/11,” my friend said of the rally. “And I am proud to say that I was a part of history.”

The truth is intolerance, hate and fear are aimed at the TEA Party members, not spread by them.

Unfortunately, the storytellers aren’t concerned with the truth. They’re too worried about pushing health care reform and the rest of the Obama agenda.

The liberal media has been quick to make the protests and Tea Party movement about racism and bigotry rather than the issues that the movement rallies together for, but there are a few problems with the image projected by the left.  First, the Tea Party movement does not fit into a simple definition, mainly because no single Tea Party exists, rather, it is a grass-roots level movement made up of hundreds of smaller autonomous groups who come from varied backgrounds and political landscapes but all share a similar libertarian style view of politics and they are inspired to act in response to an obtrusive government.  In an organization with no clear leadership, no formalized organizational structure, and no delineated list of priorities, positions, and viewpoints, one cannot tag the group with such a label as “racist” or “bigoted” and cannot stereotype the group on a small minority of people who might associate with said group.  Second, the Tea Party movement, like both major political parties in America, is made up of people who are very different from one another yet come together for a common cause.  The Tea Party movement gives hope to hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of Americans who feel that the American voice is dwindling and that democracy is a soon to be past time.

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(Protesting on the West lawn of the Capitol.  Steve Taylor (c) 2010)

(Protesting outside the Rayburn House Office Building.  Steve Taylor (c) 2010)

esday, March 24, 2010 7:25 PM

FELTS: The big lie: T-E-A spells racism

By TOMMY FELTS, Voices From the News

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“Racist TEA Party thugs.”

Say what you want about Obama’s health care reform, but the president and his supporters in the media sure know how to tell a story.

(Remember the one about the poor son of a single mom from Kansas who overcame all adversity and grew up to be the most charmingly awesome man in the world?)

When the TEA Party emerged a year ago as a significant force against Obama’s legislative plans, the political left knew the movement had to be stopped. The groundswell of anti-Obama sentiment couldn’t be allowed to continue.

Obama’s allies launched a campaign to discredit and marginalize the TEA Party. They spun a yarn about the “truth” behind the masses of protesters, or “tea baggers” as they mockingly called them.

Their truth?

TEA Party protesters are ignorant racists, driven by fear and funded by corporate interests.

Why don’t they like Obama?

Because he’s black.

Why don’t they like Big Government, higher taxes or the president’s health care reform?

Because they might help blacks and other minorities.

Where’s the proof?

Just look at them! There’s hardly a non-white face in the crowd. They must be racists.

(For this line of thinking to work, you have to ignore Democrats’ long-standing re-enforcement that minorities are perpetual victims, unable to succeed but for the good graces of Big Government and such entitlement programs as universal health care. Gee, I wonder why minorities wouldn’t be protesting in full force with the TEA Party?)

The latest “proof” of racism in the TEA Party ranks came this weekend, as protesters rallied at the U.S. Capitol to voice opposition to the House’s vote on health care legislation. A couple of black lawmakers and one openly gay House member reported to the media protesters used slurs against them, one saying he even was spat upon by a TEA Party member.

Some Republicans bent over backward to immediately apologize, calling the incidents “isolated” and “reprehensible.”

But the protesters who actually were at the rally?

They say the slurs and spitting never happened.

Surely, these lawmakers wouldn’t be trying simply to once again malign Obama opponents with the oldest Democratic trick in the book (the race card), right?

Surely, there’s video evidence to back up their claims? (I mean, come on … if we have video of Vice President Joe Biden calling the health care reform bill a “big f—–g deal,” we definitely have video of the protesters’ alleged offensive comments, don’t we?)

Will we ever know what really happened?

I wasn’t there. Chances are, neither were you.

Fortunately, a college buddy of mine was among the protesters amassed Saturday in Washington. He agreed to share his account of the rally.

“The only comments I heard this weekend over and over again were persuasive comments directed at Congress to ‘kill the bill’ and comments asking Congress not to strip our personal liberties from us,” he told me.

And the slurs supposedly shouted by protesters? Well, he has a unique perspective on that, too.

“As someone who is a gay libertarian and votes conservative, I value the principles of liberty and freedom, as well as my personal dignity as a gay American. I was at the TEA Party protest all day Saturday … and I can tell you that I did not hear a single racial epithet or slur toward the gay community or any minority group.

“I can assure you that if at any point I felt unsafe or heard epithets and slurs I would have left, because the true meaning of the rally would have been lost,” he said. “The purpose of the rally was for people of all backgrounds, religions, races, orientations and economic status to come together for the common cause of persuading Congress not to impede on state’s rights or to impose a government mandated policy on Americans that affects every American in such a big way.”

Does that sound like the rant of a crazy racist?

My friend — an unabashedly gay Libertarian from California — doesn’t quite fit into the tidy little story line about TEA Party protesters as presented by Obama and the left.

That’s because their story is a lie.

“I witnessed a renewed spirit of patriotism unseen since the days following 9/11,” my friend said of the rally. “And I am proud to say that I was a part of history.”

The truth is intolerance, hate and fear are aimed at the TEA Party members, not spread by them.

Unfortunately, the storytellers aren’t concerned with the truth. They’re too worried about pushing health care reform and the rest of the Obama agenda.

Tommy Felts is managing editor for The Ottawa Herald. E-mail him at tfelts@ottawaherald.com