Whenever I hear about the antics of the Tea Party, I find that I am ashamed to call myself an American.
Where is the civil discourse and disobedience, the intelligence and sophistication upon which Americans pride themselves so greatly?
It’s certainly not in the Tea Party. The recent passage of the health care bill lit a fire under the group, a majority of whom are white, male, older than 45, and, in my opinion, idiotic.
Spitting at John Lewis, a civil rights hero, and Barney Frank, an openly gay congressman, and screaming racial and sexual epithets does not particularly portray a reasonable, informed, intelligent movement to me. Neither does the throwing of bricks through Congressional office windows, eerily echoing Kristallnacht, which I find an odd act from a group of people claiming that Obama is Hitler.
I recently saw a video of a Tea Party Tax Day rally. In regard to immigrants, a man said, “If you kick them all out, who’s gonna pick the fruit? Who’s gonna wash the dishes in the restaurants?” Another held a sign proclaiming: “Obamacare doesn’t cover tar and feathers.” For me, this is the most frightening, revolting part of the Tea Party movement: the abject racism and hatred towards anyone who is not 100% white.
For a while, as I read about the Tea Party, I tried to pretend their acts were isolated incidents. I convinced myself that it was only a couple of crazies, a bunch of radicals whom you could find in any country, angry with the government. When this approach failed after reading a New York Times poll in which 18% of the country declared themselves members of the Tea Party, a sizeable chunk of America, I even briefly thought they might have something worthwhile to say. A visit to their website and a read-through of their mission statement convinced me otherwise.
Who am I kidding? Tea Partiers are the angry foot soldiers of the Republicans, a party that, not so coincidentally, has not been served by an African-American in the Senate or the House since 2003 (in fact, they’ve had all of three since 1935).
I have moved past disgust and onto pity for their idiocy, their refusal to get their news from anyone besides people within their own realm of insanity like Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh. I am disappointed in leaders from both parties for simply ignoring and dismissing what is a frightening and potentially dangerous movement.
When the Tea Partiers shake their fists and shout about taking back their country, they’re not talking about taxes, or healthcare, or any political issue. They’re talking about the black president, the female Speaker of the House, the openly gay House Financial Services Committee Chairman, the Latina on the Supreme Court. They’re talking about people in power, people I consider perfectly able to lead, who are not white, straight, and male.
Is that what America is meant to be? Certainly not, nor is it something I want to be a part of.