By Bob Steinberg
Edenton, N.C. held one of many tea parties across the nation on April 15. The purpose: to send a loud and clear message to Washington and Raleigh that many citizens have had enough taxation, pork, waste, fraud, spending, takeovers and corporate, bank and mortgage bailouts.
The national debt being incurred is beyond comprehension, most likely unconstitutional and certainly beyond the ability of many current and future generations to repay. George W. Bush was a reckless spender, much to the chagrin of the conservatives who supported him for other reasons, but this administration has raised the bar to new heights.
The tea parties were also designed to remind our national and state leaders that we have constitutional rights, including the right to peacefully assemble and protest against our government, when necessary.
The event here was peaceful as were all but one event held on tax day. In spite of an unusually cold, damp, dreary afternoon, close to 650 citizens gathered here upon the historic 1767 Court House green to protest against what they view as their governments out of control spending. The folks were a mixture of old and young, retired, employed and unemployed. There were parents with young children. And white collar, blue collar, clergy collar and frayed collars. There were of all races. Many brought homemade placards of protest.
Looking upon this scene, I was reminded of a Norman Rockwell portrait; it was a picture that could have graced the cover of a Saturday Evening Post.
The American, state and flags of many military branches, provided a subtle background to the often poignant words being spoken at the base of a monument dedicated to Joseph Hewes, a signer of the Declaration of Independence.
Dr. Troy Kickler with the North Carolina History Project shared the history of political protest and dissent, particularly in northeastern North Carolina, then a hotbed for political debate. He paid homage to Ms. Penelope Barker and the 51 brave local women who in 1775 held what became known as the Edenton Tea Party; a peaceful protest against England’s oppressive rule over the colonies.
Dallas Woodhouse of Americans for Prosperity addressed the irresponsible and inefficient manner our state government has been operating for many years. He emphasized the need to break the cycle of corruption, cronyism and wasteful spending that has become all too common place. North Carolina, he reminded the audience, has one of the highest unemployment rates in the nation and among the highest taxes in the southeast.
Woodhouse said Raleigh sees tax and spend as the only solution to every problem. To regain fiscal sobriety there needs to be a wholesale house cleaning of the Democratic majority that has ruled all but a handful of years since the days of Reconstruction. Absolutely no one can blame the state mess on Republicans, he said, and have even an ounce of credibility.
The keynote speaker was Mason Weaver, a black motivational speaker, author and syndicated radio talk show personality. Weaver said that the Democrats in Washington, led by Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, along with those in the Obama administration, seek to take us back to the plantation, where we’re all provided with housing, food, clothing and healthcare along with a job that would pay little. Government will control everything, he said, and we won’t have a worry in the world. The only things we’ll lose are our individual freedoms.
I received an e-mail from a 60- year- old Hyde County woman who was appalled with the entire concept of tea parties. She wrote that I and the other conservative protesters are part of America’s lunatic fringe. She accused us “tea baggers” of playing to underworld militia groups, stoking their anger until it causes a revolution that will incite bombings of federal buildings, like Oklahoma City in 1995 by Timothy McVeigh. “There are those of us that will make you pay,” she wrote, actually suggesting that law-abiding citizens would consider such madness.
The Department of Homeland Security may be partially responsible for stoking her fears. An unclassified document entitled, Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment, was recently uncovered and reported in the media. This report is based on no substantive matter of fact and appears instead like a bad Junior High term- paper.
Conservatives who vocally oppose illegal immigration, are pro-life, who are angry with the economic downturn and may “exploit” it and may also be unhappy with the new president are viewed as potentially dangerous extremists, according to this report.
Veterans returning from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are seen as particularly vulnerable to recruitment by rightwing extremists. The American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars immediately demanded an apology for that inference and got it from the sheepishly apologetic DHS head Janet Napolitano.
Apparently all who refuse to go along to get along may now be reclassified by this administration as potentially dangerous right wing extremists. Many of the 60 million Americans who voted against Barack Obama could now fall into this new category.
Only one event on tax day was marred by violence. Liberal protesters shut down a forum on illegal immigration at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. A stone was thrown through the window of the meeting room and protesters entered with signs and chants of, “Shut it down, no more racists in our town.” The signs they were carrying read, “No one is illegal.”
The DHS is targeting responsible law abiding citizens and military veterans as extremists and these radical left university fringe groups get a pass? None were arrested and in fact were even allowed to continue protesting. There’s something wrong with this entire picture. If this doesn’t scare the bejeebers out of most Americans, nothing will.