[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]
I got quite a kick out of how the Breitbart crowd and the Fox talkers devoted so much energy this week to portraying the anti-Tea Party protesters at Tea Party gatherings like those in Wisconsin as incredibly vicious. Of course, these folks have made a cottage industry out of denying the realities of Tea Partiers' nasty and frequently bigoted rhetoric, so it's only natural that they'd play the grotesque hypocrite in one swell foop.
Meanwhile, here's some footage you won't see on The O'Reilly Factor or over at Big Ego. This comes from Channel 12's reportage on this weekend's ugly Tea Party event in Phoenix:
TEA PARTIER: That's why you don't have a higher standard of living than Mexico! The United States has a higher standard of living than Mexico because it's populated by white people. Mexico is a [BLEEP]!And then, of course, there was the nice little old lady Tea Partier in California who just thought that Obama-as-a-chimp Photoshop was just too cute not to forward to all her fellow Republican committeemen. She did manage to make an actual apology -- after a coupla tries:
Shortly after sending the email, Davenport said in a follow up that she was sorry if she had offended anyone with the image. She denied the implication that the depiction was racist.The reality, as we've said many times, is that no matter how hard the Tea Partiers and their right-wing-media apologists try, they'll never be able to paper over their very real and deep extremist base. They'll never be able to keep all the nutcases they've gathered in one place under a lid forever.
"I simply found it amusing regarding the character of Obama and all the questions surrounding his origin of birth," she wrote in an email. "In no way did I even consider the fact he's half black when I sent out the email."
"In fact, the thought never entered my mind until one or two other people tried to make this about race," she added. "I received plenty of emails about [former president] George Bush that I didn't particularly like yet there was no 'cry' in the media about them."
But in a subsequent email, sent to the Orange County Republican Central Committee late Monday night, Davenport apologized more strongly. She asked for forgiveness for her "unwise behavior" and noted that she "didn't stop to think about the historic implications and other examples of how this could be offensive."
"To my fellow Americans and to everyone else who has seen this email I forwarded and was offended by my action, I humbly apologize and ask for your forgiveness of my unwise behavior. I say unwise because at the time I received and forwarded the email, I didn't stop to think about the historic implications and other examples of how this could be offensive," Davenport's apology read.
This was driven home by a superb piece of reporting from Devin Burghart at the Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights: "Tea Time With the Posse: Inside an Idaho Tea Party Patriots Conference".
Burghart revisited Idaho Tea Party leader Pam Stout, who we discussed back when she was profiled in the New York Times. While she appeared shortly after that on the David Letterman Show and convincingly sold the image of the Tea Parties as rational folks concerned about TARP and health-care reform, Burghart found that was no longer the case:
Little talk of repealing “Obamacare” or of modifying objectionable provisions of healthcare legislation took place at Stout’s “Patriots Unite” event, held March 26. The impending possibility of a government shutdown due to an impasse over the budget was hardly mentioned. Nary a word was spoken about bailouts or taxes. Instead, speakers at this Tea Party event gave the crowd a heavy dose of racist “birther” attacks on President Obama, discussions of the conspiracy behind the problem facing America (complete with anti-Semitic illustration), Christian nationalism, anti-environmentalism, and serious calls for legislation promoting states’ rights and “nullification.”Much of what he found was similar to what I experienced in Montana attending a very similar kind of gathering.
Stout, the Idaho state coordinator for Tea Party Patriots attracted around seventy Tea Party activists from Idaho, Montana, and Washington to the Coeur D’Alene Inn for the conference. The goal: to bring isolated Tea Party groups together. Originally scheduled as a two-day conference, Stout noted that the event was shortened because, “our workshop presenters are still in Wisconsin” presumably engaged in Tea Party anti-union organizing efforts.
Burghart observed a Spokane Valley legislator named Matt Shea (whose activities we've previously discussed) explaining state nullification schemes of the kind promoted by Glenn Beck and now working their way through various state legislatures where the Tea Partiers have complete control, such as Montana's.
He also describes how regional leaders from the John Birch Society hold forth at length about their many commonalities with the Tea Partiers, and they manage along the way to win quite a few new friends.
But the really disturbing talk comes from a Birther radio talk-show host from Elk, Washington, named Laurie Roth. If you need any convincing of the toxicity of the Birther beliefs -- and where they're headed -- then this excerpt will do the job:
She also expressed the urgency of the birther fight, stopping in the middle of her talk to engage an audience member in a discussion about whether impeachment, arresting president Obama, or a military coup would be the best solution.Ah, but all the conversation the past week has been about nasty left-wingers. Funny how that works, isn't it?
Roth: "We have to, we can't try, we have to get him out in 2012"
Audience member: "why wait? ...He's an illegal president now."
Roth: "he should be impeached." The audience member replied, he can't be impeached, he's not a citizen."
Roth: "how would you get him out?"
Audience member: “By having the authority of five governors, five senators, march on the Supreme Court, who have abdicated their power and authority to simply render that he is not a legal president. And send the US Marshals to arrest him."
Roth: I couldn't agree more. What we need is a move like Zelaya in Honduras. We need the military, we need somebody to do that, or impeachment, or something like you said. We need something more than we've had.