A Letter The SF Chronicle (Probably) Won't Print
A letter writer to the Chronicle today (Letters to the Editor, 4/20) says that people shouldn't be afraid of Tea Party rants and rhetoric, that the groups are made up simply of "people taking an active interest in their government and protesting that it does not represent their views."
On the opposite page, Debra Saunders chastises former President Bill Clinton for bringing up the Oklahoma City bombing on its 15th anniversary and equating the political climate then to the events that are unfolding today. She makes the claim that some people (read: Tea Partiers) are simply upset with overly intrusive government and worried about long term debt. She also feels that there is nothing to fear from this fringe group who can't seem to get over the last election and the fact that many of their candidates lost or were replaced by politicians they don't particularly like.
I've seen some of these people close up, and I have to disagree with both Ms. Saunders and the author of the letter defending the Tea Party members. I attended the Tax Day rally at Union Square last week, and what I heard there left me feeling less than safe. In fact, it sent a chill up my spine. A woman at the microphone (I didn't get her name or affiliation, but she was speaking at a little before 5 o'clock) was ranting about "taking back" the government. This seemed to be a common theme among the crowd -- apparently democratically-held elections are not viable to her or her compatriots if their chosen candidates lose. She closed her speech with these words: "We will beat them with our ballots! And if that doesn't work, we'll beat them with our bullets! We'll have a real revolution! WE WILL NOT STAND FOR SOCIAL ANARCHY IN THIS COUNTRY!"
I knew going in that subtlety and nuance were not the Tea Partiers' strong points, but it appears that irony is completely wasted on them as well.
Apart from the obvious contradiction, what she was saying was that if they don't get the people they want elected, they will come gunning for those of us on the left. They want to shoot the people who win, unless they're Tea Party approved. Her comments received cheers and enthusiastic applause, and I have yet to hear of anyone associated with that group condemning her words or disavowing her call to violence. Not one person there seemed troubled by her eliminationist rhetoric; rather, they appeared to embrace it as a call to arms.
So please, tell me again why I shouldn't be afraid of this group, because seeing the signs and the people protesting and listening to the assembled speakers at Union Square last Thursday sure scared the hell out of me.
-- Love, Generik