As they have shown in the recent debt ceiling debate, the tea party minority is becoming a big problem for the rest of us. And they’re doing it by taking hostages. On the national level, this meant holding the country hostage, refusing to raise the debt ceiling until they got deep cuts to desperately needed social programs, while at the same time holding low tax rates and loopholes for the wealthiest 2% as sacred and untouchable.
Shortly after the incident, an activist from Douglas County sent out a request for support to her local community – which I now extend to you. She said, “Please know how important your support and participation are. The 2012 elections are not even launched yet. The tea party and their fringe group supporters must hear from all of us that their tactics are not okay. What has happened to civility and respect in our world?”
First, watch video of the harrassment and register your dislike by giving the video the thumbs down sign.
Then, write a letter to the editor of your local paper to let your community know what happened, and denounce these violent tactics. Solidarity with the Douglas 18 means we make our resistance to this crazymaking known.
Dear Fellow Democrats of Douglas County,
Here is the latest update on recent events in Douglas County.
As you know, the Tea Party and Americans for Prosperity disrupted a non-partisan event at River Forks Park last Sunday.
The behavior of the Tea Party activists was boorish and disgusting. But it revealed the true nature of their movement: Their goal is to kill democracy, and to stifle free speech. The Tea Party is funded by corporations, controlled by corporations, and serves to increase the power and wealth of corporations.
The goal of our meeting/rally was to find ways to restore the American Dream. A lot of the Tea Party activists feel cheated out of their dreams, and are fearful of their future, but they misunderstand the reasons for the destruction of the middle class, and of our economic woes. They have been fed the lie that giant corporations and the super-rich are somehow their allies, and that government—We The People—is the enemy. They think that taxes on corporations and the wealthy are too high (even though these taxes are the lowest that they have been for sixty years), and they forget that the only balanced budgets in the last half century were under Democrats.
We came there, to a public place (paid for with our taxes), to peacefully assemble, and to discuss ways to improve the future for all Americans. They came to disrupt, to call names (“Bitch” “Communist” “Marxist” –and worse) and to tell us to go back where we came from. We are Americans. We have a right to be here.
They chanted: “Free America! Free America!” And followed us home, to private property, and continued their assault on our liberties.
We must fight back. You can help. Let your friends know about this outrage, and where you stand on it. Use personal contact, telephone, email, and all the social media you can. Write a letter to the editor. Come to our meetings. Stay involved, and help defend Democracy.
In your messages, please do stay positive: our neighbors are not our enemies. They are human beings we care about, and some of them are being used cruelly and cynically. I’m angry, too, but focus that anger on the threat that we and our democracy face.
Remember: we are all in this together.
“Irony lost on the Tea Party”
On Sunday, July 17th, a non-partisan group assembled at River Forks Park to participate in a “American Dream House Meeting”, part of a nation-wide series of meetings organized by MoveOn.org.
As soon as we began the meeting, a group of Tea Party activists, lead 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 got in their cars and followed us, even attempting to come down a private road and onto our private 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 here is that we were a peaceful, non-partisan group coming together to share ideas about “re-building 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. What we’re focusing on is 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 Byers, Roseburg
Editorial: 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.
As word of the video spread, the reaction against it was swift. We join others who are shocked that an organization that claims to be such a huge supporter of the Constitution would deny the rights of others to peacefully assemble and infringe upon their freedom of speech. The tea partiers, who outnumbered the other group 2-to-1, also attempted to follow them to a private residence after the meeting broke up.
Some have pointed out that the tea party, in stifling conversation, may actually be the group more representative of the scary words they like to throw around, like Marxists, communists, or would that be fascists?
AFP County Director Rich Raynor insists that his group did nothing wrong. They simply wanted to attend the meeting to find out what MoveOn.org was up to and that they chose to bring signs. He said about half of those who showed up, including most of the men, were not members of AFP, and he can’t be responsible for keeping everyone civil.
His own sign read, “Your dream is America’s nightmare.” He denied it was meant to intimidate, but he said that if it did, then “tough.”
It seems the definitions of confrontation and intimidation may be at the heart of this incident. The actions of those associated with AFP shown on the video can easily be regarded as bullying. It’s understandable that the MoveOn.org members would prefer to avoid the conflict and meet elsewhere.
We expect our fellow residents to have good manners, to treat one another with respect, especially our elders. That didn’t happen last Sunday.
Raynor says he welcomes those with opposing views to attend AFP meetings and bring signs. His organization will meet as usual, he said, as long as there’s no vulgarity.
Maybe that can happen, but AFP also has to recognize that freedom in America doesn’t mean that you can intimidate a group whose views you oppose, particularly if you’ve wrongly characterized the group.
Attacking one another isn’t going to help limit government or promote free enterprise — two of the tea party’s goals.
The tea party needs to reconsider its plans to further interrupt the meetings of others and instead work for the positive changes to government that it seeks.
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