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The Collateral Damage of Crashing the Tea Party

I have long been a fan of political theater.  I have seen protests infiltrated and opponents delegitimized.  I have seen, or maybe even taken part in internet campaigns to build false grassroots support for causes that might be helpful to my causes in the end.  It is done all the time on both sides of most major issues.  So today when I read about Jason Levin starting a group called Crash the Tea Party I thought it was a pretty great idea.  But by the time I finished reading the article, I had changed my mind completely.

Crash the Tea Party is “a nationwide network…sick and tired of the loose affiliation of racists, homophobes, and morons; who constitute the fake grass roots movement which calls itself ‘The Tea Party.'”  They seek to “dismantle and demolish the Tea Party…by infiltrating the Tea Party itself.”  The plan is to show up at Tea Party rallies and just exaggerate those things that are already so easily mockable, whether it is misspelled signs or wild claims in TV interviews.

While I am completely in support of the goal, this groups tactics play straight into the hands of the Teabaggers.  Most of us probably remember March 20, the day before the US House passed the so called “Obamacare” reconciliation bill.  The protesters were out in full force on Capitol Hill that day, and as members of the House walked from their offices to the Capitol several were accosted by them.  John Lewis, Andre Carson, and Emmanuel Cleaver all reported demonstrators/thugs yelling the N-word at them, and Cleaver was spat upon one of them.  Barney Frank was called a faggot on multiple occasions that weekend by somewhat ironically named Teabaggers.

The immediate response from the Tea Party and even the more “mainstream” of the right was to deny that these events had taken place, and to say that if they had it was left wing infiltrators trying to score points against the “real Americans” standing up to the evil fascist-socialist-Islamist left.  Known liar Andrew Brietbart even went so far as to offer a prize of $100,000 to the United Negro College Fund if anyone could prove the slurs were used, and then said that since no video has turned up it must all be a lie.  Turn on any right wing talk show in the country and this is already the talking point when any of this comes up.

Now with Mr. Levin out trying to promote his group in the media, the only people he is discrediting are those that have been standing up to the righties who are trying to cover up the hate spewing from the Tea Party movement.  This is going to make Fox News’ job that much easier next time a Teabagger does something deplorable in public, and we won’t have to wait long for that to happen.  Levin is doing what too many people on the left do every day, shooting himself in the foot.  Unless, this is all part of the plan and it is not the Tea Party that is being crashed.


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Sarah Palin is a Terrorist

I’m not sure if this is the first time I have called Sarah Palin a terrorist.  If I did it might have just been hyperbole, I was probably trying to argue with someone and I enjoy overstating my arguments just to see how people will react.  She has come close to deserving the label in the past, but her most recent Facebook note Don’t Get Demoralized! Get Organized! Take Back the 20! has finally put her over the edge.

Her note includes a map of the Lower 48 states, with cross hairs on the districts of 20 Democratic members of the US House who live in districts won by McCain/Palin in 2008. 

One of the lucky 20 to be targeted by Palin was Tom Periello, from Virginia’s 5th Congressional District.  Members of a local Virginia tea party group found what they thought was Periello’s home address and posted it on their website telling the other teabaggers to “drop by” the house.  And now it seems that at least one of these patriots did “drop by.”  And while they was there they decided to cut the gasline to the home they thought belonged to Congressman Periello.

But the home did not belong to Tom Periello, it was the home of his brother Bo.  Bo was home with his wife and four children last night when he smelled the gas that was leaking into his home.

The Charlottesville, VA news site DailyProgress.com reports Nigel Coleman was one of two teaparty organizers who posted Bo Periello’s address online.  When he found out that he had posted the wrong address he said, “Do you mean I posted his brother’s address on my Facebook? Oh well, collateral damage.”

As I sat and watched the House vote on Sunday I had very mixed feelings.  I was amazed that the first major step towards real reform in health care was actually happening.  I have been conflicted about the specific bill for a long time, knowing that it doesn’t go nearly far enough but also knowing that it will help a lot of people who can really need it.  It took me a long time to grudgingly realize that this was probably the definitive case of not letting the perfect be the enemy of the good.

The thing that really bothered me that day was the actions of the teabaggers the day before, spitting, yelling, hurling racial epithets.  I sat with my friend watching history being made in and history being repeated.  I was at the same time tremendously proud and tremendously ashamed of my fellow Americans, tremendously hopeful for our future and tremendously scared of what it might hold for those who history has left behind.

We sat and watched the debate, and talked about what would happen next.  We talked about the anger that was building inside of this group of people who felt betrayed.  They were like a wounded animal, fighting to stay alive.  And for many the health care vote would be a massive assault.  While they were wounded before, they are now wounded and cornered.  Their only choice for survival is to fight back.

There was a moment where the leaders of the Tea Party movement had a choice to make.  The anger was growing and starting to spiral out of control, and they could have tried to stop it.  They could have come out publicly and condemned the racist attacks of the weekend, they could have condemned the property destruction, they could have. But they didn’t.  Instead Sarah Palin put out her Facebook note with crosshairs on it.  She urged her supporters to “reload.”

Luckily whoever cut the gas line in Mr. Periello’s home yesterday didn’t kill anyone.  But someday, probably someday soon, one of Sarah’s supporters will injure or kill someone they disagree with politically.  When that day comes, the blood will be on her hands.

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