Friday, November 6, 2009

Tea Party Protesters Getting Out of Hand

Summary: The Tea Party activists and their latest protest - how it crossed the line.

While the nation mourns the tragic loss of our men and women at Ft. Hood this week, an interesting secondary story has been circling the blogosphere - hateful messages coming from Tea Party protesters, and what appears to be encouragement from GOP leaders.

From an editorial in Politics Daily:

When John Boehner, the Republican leader of the House, appeared at the Tea Party rally at the Capitol on Thursday afternoon, it was a dramatic signal: The wing-nuts have taken over the GOP.

Think I'm being harsh? The angry folks at the protest -- which attracted several thousand conservatives -- held up signs with messages of hate: "Get the Red Out of the White House," "Waterboard Congress," "Ken-ya Trust Obama?" One called the president a "Traitor to the U.S. Constitution." Another sign showed pictures of dead bodies at the Dachau concentration camp and compared health care reform to the Holocaust. A different placard depicted Obama as Sambo. Yes, Sambo. Another read, "Obama takes his orders from the Rothchilds" -- a reference to the anti-Semitic conspiracy theory holding that one evil Jewish family has manipulated events around the globe for decades.

All of this extremism was on display -- proudly -- at an event that was officially sponsored by the House Republicans. After Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) invited tea partiers to the Capitol to rail against the emerging health care bill, the GOP leadership -- somewhat blindsided by Bachmann -- jumped on board, providing speakers and logistical support for the event. Certainly, the crowd was not made up entirely of bigots; I'm not smearing all the protesters who oppose Obama's health care reform effort. But it cannot be denied: Racism and anti-Semitism were part of an official Republican action.

Extremism was also flowing from the podium, where Republican House members were eager for microphone time. Boehner, for one, declared that the health care bill is the "greatest threat to freedom that I have seen." That's some statement. A greater threat than Hitler's Nazism or Soviet communism? About the same time he was speaking, Obama was making a surprise appearance at the White House daily press briefing to tout the fact that the American Medical Association and AARP, the powerful seniors lobby, have each endorsed the health care reform bill. Here's a question for Boehner: Are these two groups opposed to freedom? And at one point during the rally -- call it a Bachmannalia -- when John Ratzenberger, a.k.a Cliff Clavin from "Cheers," claimed that the Democrats were turning the United States into a land of European socialism, the audience shouted, "Nazis, Nazis." No Republican legislator left the stage in protest. Boehner and his fellow GOP leaders should be asked how they feel about mounting a rally that attracted intense hate-mongering.

I find this interesting because lately I’ve been noticing more and more signs of what one might call “patriotic” protests: with Tea Party protesters carrying Gadsden flags and screaming about taxation, it seemed like the American Revolution all over again. In fact, that’s sort of what they’ve been going for.

But some of these new developments cross the line. Sure, they’ve been crossing the line here and there for a while, but depicting the president as Sambo, bringing up the Rothschild conspiracy, and shouting “Nazis, Nazis” is not the innocent War for Independence comparisons they were beginning to draw for themselves.

Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid never attended rallies in which liberal activists were comparing George W. Bush to Hilter - if they did, do you really think the Democrats could have taken back Congress?

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