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Monday, August 02, 2010

Without Hate, the Tea Party is Nothing

No mosques symbolThis weekend, the Tea Party held a "Uni-Tea" rally to demonstrate all their non-racism and Diversi-Tea. Featured speakers included black conservatives and Andrew Breitbart. The fact of Breitbart's constant attacks on black institutions was totally airbrushed out of his own personal history and no mention was made of the NAACP or Shirley Sherrod. As far as the diversity off the stage goes, I've already covered that -- long story short, there wasn't a lot. The crowd was pretty thin, which suggests to me two explanations, to be taken either in combination or separately: the average teabagger finds a rally without all the racism no fun and/or the tea party is suffering from outrage fatigue and losing steam.

But more than racial diversity was represented at the rally. Two agents of the Homosexual Agenda infiltrated the ranks.

Talking Points Memo:

Apparently, Uni-Tea wasn't only bridging the racial gap. Brendan Kissam and Matt Hissey wandered into the event carrying signs that said "proud gay conservative" and "freedom is fabulous." They said they were "the Gayborhood's envoy to the tea party."

The pair said the tea party is welcoming to their minority group, too. "The Tea Party is accepting of everybody," said Hissey, adding that "Skin color diversity -- that's not real diversity. Everyone here has a different life experience." Hissey recognized that the tea party "might be against gay marriage," but that's ok, he said, because he is too.

I'm guessing that Kissam and Hissey (can those possibly be their real names?) hadn't had a lot of experience with the Tea Party. Just last week, an incident in Pennsylvania demonstrated the Party's attitude toward gays and lesbians -- they're evil. The Potter County library was set to show a film titled Out In The Silence. According to the Patriot-News newspaper, the film is "about the challenges of being openly gay in rural Pennsylvania." This film was not going to be shown... Not if "real Americans" had any say, anyway.

The leader of the Potter County Tea Party, through a local blogger, claimed the library was allowing conservative Christians to be "attacked for our beliefs at a public library we support with our tax money. This is wrong and cannot be tolerated." Later, he apologized for using the tea party name to express his personal opinion...

Although the local tea party official claimed "$1.5 million of local taxes" go to the library, the reality is its total budget last year was $117,000 -- with less than $42,000 from local governments.

At its core, the Tea Party doesn't have any central belief; they are defined by what they're against, because they don't seem to be "for" anything. They like to talk about the Constitution a lot, but their Constitution a fantasy document written by Christian zealots that bears little resemblance to the one ratified by people immersed in the Enlightenment. For them, Freedom of Religion means the freedom to join their religion -- and everyone else gets to shut up about it.

To say that the Tea Party is feverish with bigotry is to simply state the obvious. Never mind the racist signs and slogans, those are dismissed as the "cranks" -- something teabaggers do every time they're confronted with them. Take a look at their stances on issues of tolerance. For example, you will never in a hundred-billion years encounter a Muslim teabagger. There's a reason for that.

Joe Conason, Salon:

Sarah Palin's semiliterate yet somehow Shakespearian tweet protesting the "Ground Zero mosque" has drawn fresh attention to a cause that excites bigots across the country. Her friend Mark Williams, the racist loudmouth expelled from the Tea Party movement over the weekend, is already leading a national campaign of agitation against the "mosque" and the worshippers of Islam's "monkey god." Florida evangelist William Keller wants a piece of the fame and fortune, too. New York Republican gubernatorial candidate Rick Lazio even seems to believe that opposing the mosque -- and perhaps all mosques -- will revive his stagnating candidacy.

Like so much right-wing agitation, the campaign against the mosque in lower Manhattan -- actually an interfaith community center known as the Cordoba House that will include a mosque -- depends on fear and misinformation. Its political purpose is to demonize Islam and its adherents, no matter how peaceful and moderate, by pandering to prejudice and inflaming emotions left raw by the losses of 9/11.

If the Tea Party is defined by those things that they're against, then they're united in their hatred of Muslims. It's not just Cordoba House that draws Tea Party fire, but any mosque built anywhere in America. In Tennessee, a proposed Murfreesboro Muslim community center has become an issue in the Governor's race. Current Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey has gone so far as to deny that Islam is an actual religion and, as a mere "cult," may not deserve any Constitutional protections afforded other religions.

In Florida, things are especially bad. In May, a pipe bomb exploded in a Jacksonville mosque, causing "significant" damage, "right before evening prayers at the mosque." In Gainesville, the Dove World Outreach Center plans to hold a good old-fashioned book-burning, as the Quran will torched to commemorate 9/11. Also in Gainesville, several members of the same church were sent home from school for wearing a t-shirt that read, "ISLAM IS OF THE DEVIL."

"I've met Muslim children, but I don't actually have any contact with them at the moment," one student said. "I don't know why that is -- I guess we've just never become friends." You're wearing a t-shirt that says, "ISLAM IS OF THE DEVIL," and you don't know why you don't have any Muslim friends? Really?

If there were no racism at all on the right, this would still be bigotry. A multi-cultural, multi-racial alliance against one ethnic group is still bigotry -- and that bigotry is a cornerstone of the entire movement. There's a reason that Republican politicians are jumping on the "no mosques anywhere" bandwagon: because the teabaggers are already leading that parade.


UPDATE: Case in point, via Think Progress:

A mosque in Texas was heavily vandalized last weekend, coming in the wake of a national intolerance movement by the right wing against Muslim places of worship. On Friday, members of the Dar El-Eman Islamic Education Center, in South Arlington, found "graffiti depicting Uncle Sam and Allah in a sexual position spray-painted in the parking lot.”"Then, early Sunday morning, in a case of suspected arson, a fire destroyed playground equipment at the mosque, causing $20,000 worth of damage. The vandals also cut a pipe, allegedly thinking that it was a natural gas line...

According to the report, this wasn't an isolated incident; "
An open gas canister was left inside a mosque under construction in the same town last summer, and there was a separate 'attack' reported recently in nearby Rockwall. Meanwhile, in Temecula, CA, where the local Muslim community wants to build a new mosque, about 20 people protested its construction Friday, carrying signs reading, 'Muslims Danced for Joy on 9/11' and 'No Sharia Law.'"

How long before this anti-Islamic fearmongering actually kills someone? Your guess is as good as mine, but don't be surprised if it does.

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