by Jack Minor –
During the debt limit debate, politicians have taken to calling average Americans who want the government to balance its budget, terrorists and comparing them to suicide bombers and hostage takers.
Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) recently said “the Tea Party can go straight to Hell.” She then used language which some have taken to be a physical threat saying “and I intend to help them get there.”
Tea Party organizer Ryan Rhodes said he thought it was incredible that a member of Congress would threaten average Americans with bodily harm. Rhodes recently confronted Obama during his bus tour, asking how both sides could find common ground when Democrats were calling opponents terrorists.
Waters’ statement is just the latest in a pattern by elected officials expressing disdain for the ordinary Americans who make up the Tea Party.
On Aug. 1, Rep. Mike Doyle (D-Pa.) speaking about members of the tea party caucus, reportedly said “We have negotiated with terrorists. This small group of terrorists have made it impossible to spend any money.” Vice-President Joe Biden supposedly echoed the sentiment saying “They have acted like terrorists.” Biden has denied making the remark.
Members of the caucus were elected after promising to reign in government spending and opposing tax increases.
A few days before Doyle’s comments, former Ted Kennedy staffer William Yeomans wrote, “It has become commonplace to call the tea party faction in the House ‘hostage takers’, but now they have become full-blown terrorists.”
Sen. John McCain also took aim at the tea party calling members “hobbits.” At a recent town hall meeting, in Gilbert, Arizona McCain was asked to apologize for the statement. McCain said “I am sorry if I was misunderstood. I am not sorry for what I said, why should I when it’s a fact?”
Froma Harrop, President of the National Conference of Editorial Writers, said “The tea party Republicans have engaged in economic terrorism against the United States–threatening to blow up the economy if they don’t get what they want. And like the al-Qaida bombers, what they want is delusional: the dream of restoring some fantasy caliphate.” She continued “Americans are not supposed to negotiate with terrorists, but that’s what Obama has been doing.”
Ironically, the NCEW has a project called Restoring Civility featured on its website. Harrop defended her column as being consistent with the NCEW project. “I see incivility as not letting other people speak their piece. It’s not about offering strong opinions. If someone’s opinion is fact-based, then it is permissible in civil discourse.”
Harrop stated that the references were accurate as “terrorism is not confined to physical attacks.” Harrop then referenced a recent news story in the Wall Street Journal reporting that the Pentagon considers computer sabotage by another country to be an act of war.
Harrop said “Blowing up the U.S. economy to make a point would be an even more serious attack, in my book. And that’s what the tea party saboteurs were threatening. They are what they are.”
Rep. Ted Deutch (D-Fla.) said “tea party extremists really held this country hostage. Another Florida Democrat Rep. Alcee Hastings said “What we have witnessed in the past several weeks was hardly a negotiation, but rather the Republicans recklessly holding the full faith and credit of the United States hostage until they got everything they wanted and then some.”
Other media outlets compared tea party members to suicide bombers who wanted to blow up the capital. MSNBC’s Chris Matthews called the tea party “muggers.”
Brent Bozell, President of the Media Research Center said on Fox News’ Hannity program that the attacks on the tea party would backfire. “The more the tea party is getting attacked, the stronger it is getting. The average Joe out there who believes in limited government, who believes in lower taxes and freedom is being told he is a terrorist and they are not liking it.”
Following the recent remarks, several tea party leaders, have expressed outrage over the terrorist label.
Sarah Palin said it was “appalling” that Biden would call average Americans terrorists for their beliefs and wanting to balance the budget.
Jenny Beth Martin, national coordinator for Tea Party Patriots, which bills itself as the nation’s largest tea party organization; demanded an apology from Biden for his comments.
“It is offensive, false and shocking that the person one step away from the presidency calls members of Congress, who were elected on tea party principles, a term used for the attackers on 9/11.” Martin went on to say “To call these elected officials ‘terrorists’ is unacceptable and on behalf of the members of Congress, the millions of Tea Party Patriots and the rest of the country, we demand a full and unequivocal apology.”
Brian Britton, head of the Greeley 9-12 project said “This just proves that our politicians are afraid of the people and their opinions.” Britton continued “The tea party is encouraging people to do what they are supposed to do, call their representatives and tell them how to vote. That is a politician’s biggest fear and why they want to shut us up. They don’t want the people to have a say in their government.”
Critics of the tea party say it is a movement of rich white people who are opposed to Obama because he is black. Britton disputes the characterizations noting the movement features individuals from every race.
The Greeley 9-12 group has members that are white, Hispanic, oriental and black. “We all consider ourselves Americans here, we don’t focus on race.” Britton said “The tea party movement is probably one of the most diverse groups you will ever find.”
Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) also attacked the tea party movement saying the media had a responsibility to not give the tea party equal time. Speaking of the tea party’s role in the debt limit debate Kerry said “The media in America has a bigger responsibility than it’s exercising today. The media has got to begin to not give equal time or equal balance to an absolutely absurd notion just because somebody asserts it or simply because somebody says something which everybody knows is not factual.”
Kerry continued “It doesn’t deserve the same credit as a legitimate idea about what you do.”