Last week, I posted a diary entitled Tea Party Thugs Disrupt Peaceful Rally in Roseburg, Oregon, and boy, did it take off!
The story went blogosphere, and lot has happened since, in sleepy southern Oregon. Much of it has to do with my fellow Kossacks. (And BlueOregon! And Crooks and Liars, who preserved the nasty video.)
So, thank you!
Read on, learn what’s happened in my neck of the woods, what I’ve learned from this so far, and what we all might learn.
I posted my little diary, and went off to the pasture to check on our livestock and poultry, and to deal with some irrigation issues. When I returned, the diary was on the rec list, and I was embarrassed because I had not been successful in embedding a YouTube video that showed the behavior of the Tea Party / Americans for Prosperity; but never fear: aoeu had embedded it!
Lessons: do your embedding up front. Don’t count on your diary being ignored. Stick around a couple of minutes, see if that thing comes to life!
I got messages of support from lots of good people here in Oregon. Many of them helped me in all sorts of ways. And a lot were from fellow progressives coming out of the woodwork; one is a neighbor I never met! Another provided me insights into local politics and media I did not know about.
Lesson: read those messages. Write back, call, make further contacts
Our local Democratic Party got tons of calls and emails of support, and a lot of people who have been quiet for a while, are promising to get active again.
Lesson: there are local people watching this national forum. DailyKos is for all of us.
The local media picked up on this. The News Review was all over the story, and they put up an article on the event and they did not hide the article behind their paywall; kudos to them!
Lesson: local media pay attention to national blogs, it appears. And linking your diary to the local media helps, because they see a sudden bump in traffic. These doors swing both ways!
The local Tea Party /Americans for Prosperity proudly posted their YouTube video. It was embedded here at Daily Kos and in the article in the News Review. It was deluged with negative comments and negative ratings; they Tea Party first deleted the negative comments, then disabled the comments, then disabled the ratings, then edited the video, then blocked the video embedded in Daily Kos and the newspaper, then withdrew the video from YouTube.
Lessons: sunlight is good! Also: download videos and screenshots that you think might be altered or withdrawn later. Because some people did that, the video is still available.
In my diary, I called the MoveOn function a rally. It was, more properly, a meeting. Because it was a meeting, the disruption was even more repellant.
Lesson: Words matter. Be careful.
I failed to exhort readers not to resort to threats. Rich Raynor, mentioned in my diary, reports that he has received threats. I deplore violence and threats of violence. This is not who we are.
Lesson: always, always, be sure that you call for civilized, legal behavior, even if you are responding to behavior that is not civilized.
Our party, our group of progressives, and many in our community who self-identify as conservatives have been appalled by the behavior of the Tea Party crowd. This event has caused a shift in our community for the better, I think.
Lesson: Lemon, meet lemonade.
Today, our Roseburg newspaper, the News Review, has posted a fine editorial, condemning the actions of the Tea Party and Americans for Prosperity. I hope you will read it, and send them some love! Here is a sample:
Tea party can help itself by bagging bullying tactics
Local tea party members who intruded on a peaceful meeting at River Forks Park last Sunday should be ashamed of themselves.
They intimidated a quiet group of mostly older women and a few men gathering in a public park for a MoveOn.org meeting. They wrongly believe that MoveOn.org is a communist organization.
One member of the East Douglas County chapter of Americans For Prosperity was so proud of disrupting the meeting he posted a video on YouTube of the incident. He labeled it with subtitles encouraging gatherers to leave “ and take your Marxist agenda with you.”
That kind of behavior is unacceptable and reflects poorly on Douglas County. It's not the kind of reputation we need when we're trying to attract tourists, who will spend money here, and businesses to stem our high unemployment rate.
Finally: There is undoubtedly more to come. Legal actions regarding some of the behaviors, a promise by Rich Raynor to bring his crew to future "Commie" meetings, and a statement by Rich Raynor that his meetings are open to the public--all these are in the hopper. Popper.
Pass the popcorn!
(And stay civil, and stay legal. Srsly.)
2:00 PM PT: Update #1: Rec list! Thank you. I hope you will all read the great editorial in the linked News Review. I regret that letters to the editor are not yet on-line, because they tell the real impact the thuggish behavior of the Tea Party members had on real, living human beings. Thank God, though, no corporations were injured.
Mon Jul 25, 2011 at 10:39 AM PT: Update #1: I think the video Crashing Vor posted here deserves an update. You should go watch this video, and laugh, and pass it on to everybody you know. Really. Go watch it NOW!
Are you back? OK. Well, the News Review has not yet put the letters to the editor on-line, and that's a shame. But go to their editorial, to see an apology, and an opportunity (perhaps) for dialogue.
Thank you all, again. Don't forget to see, and forward Crashing Vor's video.
Mon Jul 25, 2011 at 11:44 AM PT: Update #3:
LTEs to the News Review just went on-line. I have deleted writers' last names:
I'm not a letter writer, but fear has changed that. I went to River Forks Park July 17 to gather with other Roseburg folks responding to an opportunity to talk about the American Dream. Upon arrival, I found myself in a parking lot full of name calling, angry people carrying signs with intimidating slogans.
Believing I was in the wrong place, I got back into my car. I was driving out when I saw a familiar face pointing out our gathering in another part of the park. I drove to that site and sat with folks who introduced themselves and spoke of food we brought to the picnic. We numbered about 18.
Soon we were surrounded by strangers carrying those hateful signs, outnumbering us two or three to one. Clearly, their focus and intent was to intimidate and disrupt our gathering. I suggested we move as a group silently to our cars. An attendee offered her home nearby.
We were followed. These others got into their vehicles and followed us, attempting access to a private home. I was astounded and frightened. At our destination, someone called the police for help. I left an hour later to attend an interfaith church service entitled “Weaving a Tapestry of Peace.”
What kind of a community do we live in where this can happen and be considered acceptable? Who are these people who believe their actions are OK? What message are we giving our children about the political process? It's time for all of us to speak out and make known that this kind of behavior is not acceptable in our town. Thank God I had a healing church service to go to that included many faiths and loving people.
How saddening to read of the “River Forks Park Incident.” I find it ironic that Rich Raynor and his merry — and they were quite merry — band of tea party pranksters, supposed guardians of our Constitution, would deny the First Amendment right of Freedom of Assembly to their fellow citizens.
Raynor's statement of “The philosophy they espouse is not a live-and-let live philosophy ...” is striking in its hypocrisy: Do as I say, not as I do. Perhaps the voters of Douglas County could see that he was this kind of politician when he ran for county commissioner three years ago and managed to eke out only 18 percent of the votes.
Often we promote the very thing we deplore. The event at River Forks Park on May 17, as I understand it the people who originally gathered were not the ones who were doing the protesting, they were gathering.
History reminds us the communist way was to not allow anyone who had a differing opinion to meet or be allowed to discuss a differing view. Who was being Communists in this scenario? Not the people who simply wanted to meet and discuss their political future in this country.
Whenever there is coercion and force, like 30 people with signs descending on a peaceful gathering, there is going to be fear and repression. Why must anyone home in on a group that gathers for its own reasons, if not to disrupt and stop the discussion that seems antithetical to someone's sensibilities? It happens because people are scared and fear makes them act like the communists from countries whose stories are too horrible for us to forget.
Maybe it's time we do go back and look at history more closely, in order to see what Marxism or Communism really means. Has any tea partier ever really read Marx, Lenin or Mussolini? Now these were real communists, fascists, and we should be more careful about slinging these words around like any of us really knows what it means to live under such repression.
The protesters believe they are being good Americans by stopping a free discussion of our future that may differ from their own. But a really good American would relish the dialogue and not be afraid of another opinion, because it's in the exchange and the free flow of ideas that we all learn what it means to be a good American.
I believe in the tenets of our founding fathers, including the Bill of Rights, which guarantees such important civil liberties as the freedom of religion, the freedom of choice, and the right to assemble peacefully. Tea party members who are so intolerant of diversity, who are so adamant that their beliefs are the only correct ones, have forgotten that this country was founded on tolerance and acceptance.
Americans have freedoms not allowed in other countries — unless, of course, you disagree with the tea party. Tea party advocates who persecute and take pleasure in intimidating those who do not accept their doctrine insult the intelligence of true patriots and demean the very foundations upon which this country was built.
I am appalled to know that Roseburg has a faction so self-serving and so irresponsible that they justified accosting a group of people enjoying basic, inherent rights provided for all of us in our Constitution. The apparent pride this group took in their bullying tactics merely indicates how un-American an un-Christian they truly are. Shame on them.
I read at first with curiosity The News-Review's July 20 front page article entitled “Political showdown creates conflict.” But I continued with increasing incredulity at the hypocrisy of these tea party members.
As a veteran of the U.S. military from 1971 to 1975, I joined to defend the freedoms I know many had previously died to protect. The most fundamental freedoms that have been so rigorously defended are those of speech and the freedom to believe as you will, whether it be religious or political: the freedom to disagree with those in power and yet remain a true and patriotic American. It's incumbent upon those who see injustice and oppose the actions of our government, at any level, to speak out about it. That's the American way.
But to bombastically confront a small, quiet gathering of those you disagree with, who are engaged in nothing more than the intellectual discourse of like-minded individuals is an affront to the freedoms we enjoy. When the tea party members, who obviously had no interest in joining the discourse or “to find out what they had to say,” shouted derisive comments, accusations of being Communists and Marxists, at the few gathered there, their only focus was to drive them out, to shut them down; how un-American of them.
So many have died for this? I wonder how many of those who sacrificed so much would agree with this tactic, how many are turning in their graves?
If the members of the tea party had truly wished to find out what these folks had to say, they could have simply asked to join the conversation. I'm sure they'd have been welcome. But that isn't the tea party way. Wasn't it the Marxists and the Communists who stifled free and open conversation?
Sunday, July 17, a non-partisan group assembled at River Forks Park to participate in an “American Dream House Meeting,” part of a nationwide series of meetings organized by MoveOn.org.
As soon as we began the meeting, a group of Tea Party activists, led by Rich Raynor, the local head of Americans for Prosperity, closed in on us with the obvious intent of disrupting our meeting and causing trouble. We chose the non-confrontational path of leaving the park and taking the meeting to our private home.
Outrageously, they followed us, even attempting to come down a private road onto our property. We can only guess that their purpose in following us was harassment and intimidation. We called 9-1-1 and had to physically block their ingress.
The irony is that we were a peaceful, non-partisan group coming together to share ideas about rebuilding the American Dream. Our focus was on taking our country back from the corporate control that is presently rampant in our country. The Tea Party movement says they want to “take our country back,” but they don't say from whom or what. We're focusing on taking our country back from the corporate control of our government, most recently since the Citizens United v FEC Supreme Court decision.
We support the Move to Amend (MovetoAmend.org) effort to pass a Constitutional Amendment declaring that corporations are not persons and that money is not speech. As it now stands, the more money you have, the more your speech is heard. Hence, corporations can control every election and every law created by our Congress.
Peaceful assembly is guaranteed by the First Amendment. Intimidation and harassment further neither dialogue nor solutions to our country's problems.
Dean and Sara