When the Tea Party rallies were first in the news my friends and I immediately dismissed the participants as a bunch of paranoid racists who believed that President Obama was a Muslim (the devil!) with a grand plan to destroy the county from within. Probably because that’s what they said when they were interviewed on T.V. They also seemed to want to jettison programs that “Dirty Bird Liberals” support, such as funds for Planned Parenthood and NPR in order to protect programs they and their rely upon, like Social Security and Medicare.
It was apparent that they felt the ship ‘America’ was in danger of going down, and only off loading what they deemed dead weight was going to save it.
The left leaning media dismissed them as conspiracy loving racist tools of the GOP. They came across like a bunch of extreme nuts. They seemed like the kind of people who had fond memories of Governor George Wallace, the early years. Much of what I read and saw on sites such as HuffPo about the protesters upheld that image. I vacillated between thinking they were insane and thinking they were stupid. A lot of the trouble deciding had to do with the outfits.
Time went on. Friends started “confessing” things. Squirming a little, they would mention that their boyfriend’s parents were Tea Partiers. They were always very uncomfortable. It was like they were telling me their boyfriend’s parents were pedophiles. There would be a lot of throat clearing and fidgeting, and then pretty much the same line every time, “They are such great people, I don’t know how they could be into this.” Sometimes it was a sibling causing the squirming discomfort, or maybe a mutual acquaintance that, prior to The Knowledge, had seemed cool.
It progressed. Light was shed on the money behind the movement. We Dirty Bird Liberals started emailing articles to each other about how the Koch brothers had created this “astroturf” protest group. They were insane racists without even the benefit of being “organic” grassroots insane racists. I was outraged.
Well, here we are now. First it was the Tea Party people, then came the Wisconsin protesters, and now we have OWS. America; you gotta love it. We have a protest to fit any budget, and any ideology, and all with unlimited fashion choices. We’ve even gone global.
But the best part, the part that has me getting misty and silently reciting passages from MLK’s, “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” , and “Dream” speech, is hearing about some of those astroturf Koch brother funded racists, who may not be just what my Dirty Bird Liberal friends and I thought them to be, showing up at Occupy events. They apparently did not get the memo from the right’s propaganda machine that only smelly hippies need apply. They did not seem aware that they are racists and are supposed to be protesting Obama for his secret Muslim devil worshipping plot to destroy America. See, the whole time they thought they were protesting the government being big out of touch with the citizenry losers, that can’t seem to do jack shit about getting the economy right.
Some of the “supporters” at the Tea Party rallies were there because they were attracted to the message of fiscal responsibility. They genuinely felt that the government had lost sight of important values, and that it was endangering the citizenry. Thankfully, those people who were drawn toward the movement for that reason have, according to polls, just as quickly vacated it. The Tea Party today is left with the same kind of zealots that populate the religious right. They are the religious right, only now they call themselves Tea Party Patriots instead of The Christian Coalition. Luckily, they make up a small percentage of voters.
How did the nice couple from the Denver area suburbs (one friend’s boyfriend’s parents from above) get sucked into a radical racists political group? Fear, of course. Fear is what has divided us. Where did it come from? Who assigned the roles? The Racists vs. The Heathens. The Socialists vs.The Stupid People. Dirty Birds vs. Angry Birds. It is interesting to see how the right wing media portray OWS protesters. The people they focus on are truly awful. They are obviously not right in the head! They are dangerous! It’s a freak show!
I am feeling some weird déjà vu here. But the media is in it for the ratings. Not the truth. Ratings. People have to check things out for themselves. Thankfully, many do just that. They turn off the T.V. or the computer and they head out to see for themselves.
Polls show the number of Tea Party supporters falling fast. I hope that the drop outs will decide instead to check out some of the growing number of Occupy protests popping up all over the country. Maybe they could stand in solidarity against an impotent Congress, and in support for the middle class and working class America that seems to be disappearing. I hope that they will take their rightful place alongside their fellow citizens. They can wear whatever they like.