‘Tea Party’ Draws Red-Baiters

By Diane Solomon

I had no idea that President Obama switched us to socialism. The signs at San Jose’s April 15th anti tax tea party at Plaza de Cesar Chavez Park told me this. Among the 1,000 mostly middle aged and white demonstrators wearing American flag regalia were lots of homemade signs saying, “Socialism Kills,” “Revolt Against Socialism,” “Capitalism is Being Undermined” and more personalized messages.

Everyone I asked was eager to help me understand this. Hundreds of demonstrations were held on tax day all over the country. They were inspired by Fox TV, conservative talk radio programs, think tanks like FreedomWorks and on-line communities like http://www.resistnet.com, “the network for idea-based resistance to Obama-led socialistic agenda.” San Jose’s party was co sponsored by KSFO radio and The Conservative Forum, a Santa Clara group.

Standing center stage, San Jose Councilmember Pete Constant said, “We’re being taxed to death, and something has to be done to stop this blizzard of taxes. I understand that federal state and local governments are trying to survive but no one’s looking at the cumulative effect on us.”

When asked if he thought the federal government is going socialist, he said “A lot of the policies we’re seeing are leaning in that direction. And I’ve yet to see a socialist government that’s succeeding.”

The demonstrators filled the park and its stage, politely watching the open-mic style speakers and taking breaks to chant “USA, USA, USA.” Mike Ammons and his wife stood on the stage wearing matching Revolutionary War- era tri-cornered hats. He wore an American flag rugby shirt and a trim white beard.

“I came today because I love my country and I don’t want it to go to socialism,” Ammons said. “There’s a risk of our government becoming socialist because of the way they’re taxing us and taking away our rights.”

Retired San Jose Police Department officer Howard Carter came with his teenage daughter. He’s from East San Jose. “I don’t like Obama or his policies. I think he’s trying to create a socialist utopia like they have in Europe,” he said. “He wants to reward mediocrity and failure and punish success by redistributing wealth. Democracy and free market capitalism built this country and I see Obama leading us away from this.”

Burlingame’s Peter Banos broke this down for me. He came down because he thought San Jose’s Tea Party would be better than San Mateo’s. He says this is about taxation and fiscal responsibility.

“The English imposed a tea tax that the colonists didn’t vote for,” Banos said. “We didn’t vote for a bank bailout or the Stimulus Package and we don’t want to pay for the taxes or inflation that’s going to pay for them. The people here don’t feel like the government is listening to them.” He’s convinced that Obama caused the collapse of the home financing industry.

Shouting “No Human is Illegal” about fifty youths carrying pro immigrant signs marched around the Park to the stage where the crowd began shouting “USA, USA, USA” at them. A dozen police in riot gear quickly lined up either protecting them or separating them from the tea partyiers. These members of Students for Justice at SJSU and DeAnza College, the San Jose Peace Center, and San Jose CopWatch said they came because they heard the Minute Men were there.

Adrian Ramirez, a Mexican immigrant and graphic designer, said, “I came to protest the Minute Men who are hiding behind a tax protest. Them being here makes this anti-immigrant, so we’re protesting that, which we have a right to do.”

Not all the young people were involved in the counter-demonstration. Twenty-two year old Ashley Illies was wearing an American flag for a cape, a crew cut, a pierced lower lip, white Globe sneakers, and a tea bag wrapped around her ear like an earring. “My girlfriend’s family brought me here,” she said. “The Stimulus Package isn’t fair to people who pay their taxes. If we all make everything equal, people who try hard will pay the way for everyone who didn’t try hard. Equality for everyone means we’ll be paying for people who don’t pay their bills. That’s what the Stimulus Package is doing. They’re stealing our money.”

Ashley’s girlfriend’s blond haired nine year old sister Amanda was pretty in pink with white patent leather party shoes. She got one of the biggest cheers of the day when she spoke about the bank bailout. “It’s not fair to people who pay their mortgages; it’s socialism, and I’m nine years old and get that.” She was carrying a sign saying, “Save My Future”.


  1. What the hell is wrong with these people?!  President Obama has been in office for only 4 months, inherited a country that had been in financial ruin for nearly two years (albeit 8 years in the making), and is doing his best to get us out of this mess.  Patience people!  This recession will at least take us a year or two to get out of and will require tough choices. 

    As for these right-wing tea bags, what they need to do is stop partying, take a long look in the mirror and refect on the policy’s they’ve supported over the past 8 years.  Maybe then they’ll realize how ridiculous they all looked yesterday.

  2. I think I see John Galt and a bunch of other SJI regulars in the crowd there.  Probably plotting to overthrow the government.  I hear Gov. Perry was Texas to secede from the Union.  Maybe the band of right-wing nutcases here in SJ should leave CA and join them.  They have a great welfare system there, but it’s a welfare system for the wealthy. 

    It’s pretty ridiculous that they chose to hold this Teabagging party at the park named after Cesar Chavez, a man who stood for real working people, not tax cuts for the rich. I won’t even get into the race element of this. Councilman Constant should be ashamed of himself for particpating in this charade.  I’m glad you people are at most 30% of our county’s population.

  3. Red-baiters.

    Oh boy. Here we go.

    The definition of red-baiter, according to the top three dictionary publishers, is to accuse someone of association with ‘Communism’. Despite the fact that some websites and even wikipedia have attempted to stretch that definition to accusations of association with ‘Socialism’, it’s really a ridiculous thing to say. And here’s why:

    Communism is a political system. As such, it deals directly with the question of human rights, political power, etc. Systems are for the most part Communist or not—centrally controlled or not—though individuals can be ‘left-leaning’.

    Socialism is an economic ideal, and as such really just occupies one end of a spectrum of economic approaches to clubs, organizations, states, or nations. Economies with collectivist tendencies exist with perfectly operating democratic and parliamentary governments.

    Historic opposition to ‘communism’, i.e. ‘red-baiting’, has always been based on the fear of loss of political rights, not tax rates or marginal definitions of the economic public commons.

    Though opinions may differ, I think complaining about socialism is hardly ‘red-baiting’—it really can’t be compared to the vehement life-destroying finger-pointing activities of Senator Joseph McCarthy or more recently by some displaced South Asians.

    That being said, I agree with you—we had some real mouth-foamers out there yesterday, didn’t we?

  4. What a load of crap. Put the blame for the
    banking problems where they belong, on BUSH`S
    back. He`s the one who got us into Iraq, spending God knows how many Trillions of our
    tax dollars, for what? How many lives have been
    lost and what have we gained? Tax dollars that
    should have gone to rebuild the roads and bridges, instead went to Haliburton. Tax dollars that could have been put into Solar, wind,or research to find ways to get us free
    from oil. You people make me laugh,for heavens sake give Obama a chance, history will tell us if he is right. We all know that
    what was done in the last 8 years did not work and we needed a new direction. McCain was more of the same.

  5. It might do well for some to understand that our fair nation’s financial problems were rooted in the machinations of Senators Dodd and Frank, as they championed lending practices that no sane individual could even imagine.

  6. The Minute Men are a central element of this story yet the reporter, Ms. Solomon, failed to answer the most basic question for her readers of what role the Minute Men actually played in the rally. 

    Unfortunately this low budget, low quality style of reporting is becoming all too common in San Jose’s newspapers.

    Grade: C-

  7. Yes, everyone has a right to their opinion. Now we’ve got that out of the way. It is embarrassing to see such a collection of uninformed people all in one place in our city. It is also appalling to see Constant associated with these fringe groups. Hopefully he is on his way to being a one-termer. These folks all get the memo and repeat all the catch-phrases yet when asked a specific question they cannot articulate a response. Talk about drinking the kool-aid! And, it is laughable to say this is anything but a right-wing Republican “movement.” Certainly Democrats are not involved in this silliness and neither are moderate, thinking, Republicans. Never have I seen so many who know so little follow so blindly and unable to support their positions because they don’t know what their positions are. Ain’t democracy great??

  8. Wow,characterizing the participants of this “Tea Party” ( first proposed by CNBC’s Steve Liesman, not Fox Broadcasting) by their age and race—now that’s astute reporting . Clearly this gal is highly edjumacated, I’m thinking San Jose State or possibly Cal State East-Bay?

  9. I think the issue here is really simple. This “Tea Part Rally” has more to do with a greater conversation of the relationship between the voters and the government, whether that be local level, or state level. I do think that it is very sad that when one does not walk in lock step with what ever is politically correct this marginalization occurs.
    The hubris and the rhetoric has clouded so many peoples judgement both on the left and the right. And if we could at least admit that, it would be a step in the right direction.

  10. Oh come on now. Many Democrats attended these Tea Parties because they are tired of taxes too. It has little to do with Bush or Obama for some of us. I’m pissed that taxes on cigarettes are so high that a carton is now $60.00! And wait until the rest of our state’s taxes come into affect, and the tax break Obama gives you is wiped out by our lovely reps of California’s new budget.
    I think dividing things into L or R, Bush or Obama is a waste of time and energy. Who cares! We’re in this together, and we’re all fed up.

    Take a step back and look at the real problems here, over spending, not holding politicians accountable, voting in the same idiots, walking through the day not questioning things, letting CEOs, credit card companies, and banks rob us. And if we all stood up and said no more, do you really think it would keep happening? If we stopped buying junk we don’t need, enforcing the law EQUALY, prosecuting these thieving CEOs, and if we stopped using credit cards supplied by thieves, banking with scum, if we started buying American made products instead of foreign ones, if we hired Americans instead of foreigners, or stopped out sourcing jobs while giving huge tax breaks to companies who do this, may be things would change, and America wouldn’t be in this shape.

    No instead, everyone uses Bush or Obama as a scapegoat for our own ignorant choices at the polls, and ignoring our contribution to the problem. It is time to wake up folks and smell the cappuccino. Look no farther than you your own front door. Each and every one of us helped get ourselves here with every vote, and purchase we’ve made.

  11. Oh great, another left-wing smear job. What do you expect in liberal San Jose?

    For balance, let’s take a look at an article in the liberal Atlantic:

    The point: “So if you’re inclined to sneer and giggle at the Tea Parties, keep in mind that just because a group of protesters looks ragged, resentful, and naive, that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re wrong to be alarmed.”

    Byron York attended the tea party in Winchester, Virginia and wrote a pretty fair article:


    The man everybody loves to hate, Karl Rove, writes a good article:

  12. #13, you’ve hit the nail on the head. A large part of our current financial problems can be attributed to the weird mortgage options created by Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae.

    And, sure, the Bush administration turned a modest surplus into a significant deficit. But the reason was not tax cuts. The government’s tax take swelled tremendously after the 2003 tax cuts. But profligate government spending (a fault of both parties) outpaced the growth in income.

    Bush didn’t know how to say “no.” Obama says “yes” to everything. Which is less responsible? Which will resolve our current problem?

    You could tax 100% of the AGI of everybody with an AGI over $75,000, and still not have enough money to fund Obama’s FY10 budget proposal. That’s what the Tea parties were protesting.

  13. So, basically, we had a gathering of “The Stupid People”.  It’s a free country, and even the stupid have a right to speak.  Of course, they do need to be mocked, ridiculed, and scorned at every opportunity.  Stupidity should never be condoned.

    It has been the culture of stupidity, personified by the last eight years, that has gotten this country into its current mess.  It is time to clean it up, and insure “The Stupid People” never have any say, in any matter, ever again.

    Otherwise, we are doomed.

  14. #14 Steve0
    I would also be curious if anyone knows anything specific about the involvement of the minutemen in the San Jose Tea Party since that was what the counterprotest was stressing.

    #10 Kathleen
    I wholeheartedly agree with your statements about holding the CEO’s, bankers, credit card companies etc accountable. They not only manipulated individuals but the whole economy into accepting the astoundingly inflated “value” of derivatives that were based on criminally usurious sub-prime loans that had no value, and those thieves knew it. And they made billions. And then when the **** hit the fan, the politicians OF BOTH PARTIES handed them blank checks to compensate them for their losses and ensure that the continue to profit. How many trillions?

    No power without accountability. And if that means things stop and some institutions crumble and we all pick up the pieces and put them back together in a way that makes more sense, amen.

    For the folks in the crowd at the tea party who felt that, more power to them, but if the minutemen and their allies decide to start scapegoating immigrants and attacking sorely needed public services, I would imagine that the little counterprotest would look like, well, a tea party.

  15. I attended the rally and was embarrassed to see such a sight in San Jose. The crowd was more the flavor of Orange County than anything I’ve ever encountered my whole life in this city. Anybody who thinks Obama’s policies are socialist should read this refutation… by an the actual presidential candidate for the Socialist Party in the US:

    Backing this rally were voices on the right and Republican Party activists, who after eight years of supporting Bush’s failed wars, massive increase in debt to fund these adventures and rabid free market policies are totally discredited. This is their attempt to shamelessly regain lost political capital. But far worse are the even farther right elements in the organizers and attendees of the rally—the “all Mexicans go home and get off of welfare” stereotypes crowd, the Minute Men supporters, Confederate flag wavers, and eliminate federal income tax nut jobs. I think with these small but certainly present elements, the only thing preventing them from wearing hoods is that they are out of style.

    What even scarier is that one of San Jose’s own councilmen, Pete Constant, took the stage and supported these folks. Constant also acts as the council mouthpiece for the Christian right group, Values Advocacy Council, who you can read on their website was co-founded by Tony Perkins—a conservative activist who authored legislation as a member of the Louisiana state government to mandate daily prayer in public schools and gave a speech in front of pro-white supremacy group the Council of Conservative Citizens (you may have read about them in a history class when they were known as the White Citizens Council, campaigning against desegregation in the 1960’s. Read about it here: http://www.thenation.com/doc/20050509/blumenthal)

    These are the folks that Constant keeps company with and considers his allies. It’s an outrage a person like this sits on San Jose City Council—if anyone has ever been deserving, he’s the one that should have a recall campaign directed against him.

  16. #21-Downtownster said,” And then when the **** hit the fan, the politicians OF BOTH PARTIES handed them blank checks to compensate them for their losses and ensure that the continue to profit. How many trillions?”

    Amen to that! How true! 

    As to saying: “No power without accountability. And if that means things stop and some institutions crumble and we all pick up the pieces and put them back together in a way that makes more sense, amen.”

    Very well put! I agree 100%.

    It has been the LACK of accountability of our leaders by we citizens that will keep this idiotic robbery of the tax paying citizen allowable, and going strong.  And to scapegoat illegal immigrants for this mess is just outrageous. Huge corporations sold us out a long time ago by not only outsourcing labor to foreign countries, but by encouraging and taking advantage of illegal immigrants flocking over here in an effort to feed their families back home.

    I don’t see any of these criminal employers sitting in jail, nor do I see tax breaks to these huge companies who are out sourcing jobs being stopped or cut. I don’t see a proper over haul to our immigration laws being made a priority either! But I do see Mexico getting MILLIONS of dollars to help stop drug cartels. What is our country doing to deal with the criminals, and gangs here who are involved in making drug dealing profitable? And why aren’t our leaders doing something to demand that other countries take in equal amounts of American made products? We import so much garbage from other countries it is ridiculous! The list of how BOTH sides of our political party system have sold our country and its citizens down the river into bankruptcy is ENDLESS. Corporate greed is driving this country NOT our electeds, and not we citizens. Welcome to 1984!

  17. the Washington Examiner and Wall Street Journal are better examples of balanced journalism than the SJ Mercury, Metro or MSNBC. As Byron York wrote in the article cited above, “You can think what you like of the tea parties, and the media coverage of the tea parties, across the country.  Here in Winchester, Tax Day was a serious and well-meaning affair.  For the people here, there are principles at stake in this fight, and, as much as they can, they intend to stand up for what they believe.” Kathleen sums up the sprit of the day when she writes “We’re in this together, and we’re all fed up.”

  18. Don’t equate Diane Solomon’s little essay about a one-sided, slender slice of the taxpayer’s commemorations on April 15 with an in-depth report about the entire event.  When readers take the time to decode her incendiary language, her racially-charged propaganda agenda becomes evident.

    For example, when I read this, “the 1,000 mostly middle aged and white demonstrators wearing American flag regalia,” I saw “flag-waving honkies.”

    And when Solomon resurrected the old “white shoe” slur by writing, “Ashley’s girlfriend’s blond haired nine year old sister Amanda was pretty in pink with white patent leather party shoes,” I saw “blonde honky.”

    Happens every day in the Mercury News, might as well happen here, too.

  19. 26 – If they were accurate representations then it sounds like you have a problem, not the reporter. If they were not accurate, and you did not say they weren’t, then that is a problem. But since you did not refute the description it just sounds like a reporter doing their job. I know some of the folks on this blog have a problem with that and also see things that aren’t really there—but whose problem is that?

  20. To honor Dianne Solomon, I have applied to the National Endowment for the Arts for a half million dollar grant to create a T-shirt to recognize her contributions to an open-mineded and tolerant society.

    Of course, the design won’t be finalized until I have the half-million bucks in hand, but the message on the T-shirt will read:

    “Liberal and open-minded . . . and anyone who says I ain’t is an intolerant red-necked, white-skinned, blue-eyed, racist honky bigot”.

  21. What a wonderful collection of stupidity… I’m talking about here at SJI, not the Tea Party, which, unless I’m mistaken, was attended by individual citizens who believed they had a gripe with their government. But look at some of the posts:

    We have Tony D. in post #3 suggesting that these “right wing tea bags” … “reflect on the policies they’ve supported over the past 8 years.”  Where is the justification for the assumption that the protestors held in common any political conviction other than the one voiced? Did you conduct a poll, Tony D, or is making simpleminded assumptions your default setting? Lots of people who didn’t vote for Bush object to our tax structure. I’m one of them.

    In position #4 we have Tom King speculating on who from SJI might have been amongst the crowd before branding the entire group as “right wing nutcases.” I guess Mr King isn’t inclined to allow the participants to decide whether to reveal themselves, choosing to instead name names without any regard for accuracy (he wrongly placed me at the protest in a post on Friday). What a deplorable example of someone who clearly sees himself as occupying the moral and intellectual high ground. My goodness, how Stalin’s secret police could’ve used him!

    Then in comment #7 we have Dave G. declaring that it is Bush who should be held responsible for the banking crisis, showing no interest in giving the issue the fair and accurate treatment it deserves, one that would demonstrate beyond any doubt that Democrats were just as responsible for the calamity as were Republicans. He follows this froth, predictably, with a call for fairness and patience for Obama, a politician he apparently likes.

    Tom King returns in #8 to reference a photo or video that “really provides some insight into the minds of these people.” Of course there is no such thing as a photo or video that can provide insight into the minds of those not featured in it, but that doesn’t stop Mr King. His liberal heart is so full of hate for “right wing nutcases” that he has no need for stinking credible evidence.

    Post #11, offered by someone identified only as “The Intelligentsia Elite” contains not a single intelligent statement, which certainly doesn’t qualify for elite status here at SJI.

    In Post #12 Adam W. deserves credit for actually trying to sort out the various participants he observed and didn’t like, and then closes his comment with a revolting guilt-by-association hit piece on Pete Constant. Where’d you learn such tactics, Adam? If you don’t like or agree with Constant, take him on based on what he says and does, not on who you can find a way to link him to.

    A. Shamed, in post #15, should be. Not a substantive crumb in the entire post. (A historical point: drinking the kool-aid is hardly linked to conservatives.)

    Post #24 is a gem: 10 MHz Days seems to believe that tax protestors should be so thankful to have the government throw them a crumb that they should shut up and go home—as if those crumbs coming out of Washington didn’t first come out of the tax protestors’ own pockets. I wonder, 10 MHz, would a kiss on the cheek silence your complaint against a rapist?

    There has been more anger and hatred posted here against a collection of peaceful demonstrators than there ever was about any of the numerous violent demonstrations or punk riots that have taken place in SJ or other cities in the Bay Area. Take a good, hard look at yourselves liberals: you’ve got an insult for your every political enemy, a box to put ‘em in, and a ridiculous image of yourselves as an improved, fair-minded political lot.

    You folks are sure good for gun sales.

  22. @27—- Like #26, I also saw a few things that “aren’t really there”!  Let’s start with the things that a “reporter doing her job” saw, OK?  I’m going to capitalize certain words to make them stand out …

    “mostly middle aged and WHITE demonstrators” …

    “Ashley Illies was wearing an American flag for a cape, a crew cut, a pierced lower lip, WHITE Globe sneakers” …

    “BLOND haired nine year old sister Amanda was pretty in pink with WHITE patent leather party shoes”…

    So far, these descriptions seem “accurate”.

    Now, let’s have a look at the things that “aren’t there”.  Let’s look and see if these same “accurate” reporting techniques are applied to all those reported on.

    I’m going to use the SAME descriptive technique the reporter uses to describe “whites” and apply them to her reporting of other people in her article.  I’ll put in parentheses the things she “forgot” to say … the things she DID say when reporting on “whites”.

    “Shouting “No Human is Illegal” about fifty (mostly brown) youths (with black hair, wearing brown huarache sandals) carrying pro immigrant signs marched around the Park” …

    “Adrian Ramirez, a (brown, black eyed) Mexican immigrant (wearing jeans and a La Raza t-shirt) …”

    The above re-writes are plausibly “accurate representations”, but the “reporter” didn’t word them this way, did she?  But she did word the descriptions of “whites” this way.  Why the difference of technique in “reporting”?

    Can you see the disconnect?  If “whites” are stereotyped based on “typically white” categories … no problem.  But to use the SAME TECHNIQUES to describe “browns” … well, that’s a no-no in “reporting”.

    Can you smell the double standard yet?  Is the stench of the politically-correct BIGOTRY embedded in this “reporting” beginning to stink up the room yet?

    #26 is right:  this “article” is propaganda masquerading as “reporting”.

  23. It’s very easy to make a sign to protest having your taxes reduced, but how many of them are going to stand up and refuse to accept their tax cut by sending the extra money back to Washington?

    The day on which the average person has finished paying their income tax and now gets to keep what they make is earlier this year than it has been for quite a while.

  24. Downtownster,
    Obama’s policies, fanatically embraced by a majority of our population, are an extension of the type of government that got us into this mess in the first place. You want even more people to profit, not by virtue of their honest hard work, but instead based on alliances they cultivate with politicians? Then more regulation and control is the way to do it and Obama is your man. You’ll just be feeding a different group of parasites, that’s all.
    What amazes me is that, not being satisfied that your side is in complete control, you won’t rest until you’ve entirely shouted down your minority opposition.
    Always skiting about “diversity”. Never having the slightest clue as to the real meaning of the word. It’s all about control with you people, isn’t it?

  25. #30
    Please get off it. White people are not under attack in this city, state or country because of their race. What is happening is that the people who are not in the top one percent of wealth owners are beginning to recognize that they don’t have as much in common with that the top 1% as they had been led to believe.

    When the stock market and credit markets collapsed, trillions of dollars in speculative investments evaporated and the government stepped in to insure that the owners of the banks and the owners of the wealth managed by those banks would be insulated from the ravages of market discipline. The people paying for those trillions of dollars of “insulation” of those banks that were “too big to fail” are all of us. That decision by both political parties within the government to gift trillions of dollars to prop up the banks with public money seems insane and sadistic to those who are not in the top one percent of wealth owners since it will limit our ability to borrow on credit, tax us more, cause inflation.

    From the point of view of the top 1% of wealth owners, no matter how bad things get they know that they will never miss out on the things they need, they will never lack for any conceivable material luxury, and they will never have to live in fear. For the top 1%‘ers, to go from $100,000,000 to $50,000,000 may cause some concern, but they know that their children will have what they need and will be able to live a better life than their parents did since they will be able to enjoy the advancements in the arts, technology, culture, and travel and still never have to be in fear of missing a meal or losing housing.

    From the point of view of everyone else, this and future economic crises caused by this generation’s bankers (on behalf of their owners) and politicians (on behalf of their owners) mean real suffering:  housing, food, transportation, healthcare, education, arts, and culture become uncertain or unattainable. And the sense that we cannot provide a better life for our children through the hard work we do every day is a horror. This theft by the government and its owners is unforgiveable and no amount of happy talk can fix that.

    In this country, the implied social contract is that if you work hard, you can provide a life for your children that will be better than yours. And for those whose lives have been better than that of their parents and grandparents thanks to their sacrifice and dedication and love; to have the likelihood of a better life for their children threatened or concretely harmed causes rage, panic, and desperation.

    Politically, what does it mean that we can no longer trust politicians of either party to do anything but act in the interests of the top 1% of the owners of wealth? It wasn’t immigrants (legal or illegal), it wasn’t people of color, it wasn’t welfare moms driving cadillacs on your dime, it wasn’t anyone but the politicians and bankers who serve the top 1% of wealth owners. And you know what? The majority of them remain and have always been white.

    The tea party was was supposed to be strictly about taxes and not immigration but there were Minutemen and confederate flag waivers present, and the crowd chanted “build the wall” and “go home” at the counter protesters who were mostly people of color. Why?

    Ms. Solomon’s article appropriately addresses the race of the tea partiers (largely white) since there was tremendous racial tension at the event. Even if people claim that the counter protestors “started it”, the response from the tea partiers was racist, and as someone who was there to see what would unfold, it was the most white supremacist event I have ever seen in this city.

    To have white people being angry about immigration is nothing new, but when the futures of each of our families at stake in an economic crisis and governmental betrayal like we have been experiencing from both parties, to have white people en-masse chanting racist slogans in San Jose in 2009 at counter protesters of color reeks of the politics of racist scapegoating. I was one of those white people there who feels betrayed and angry at the government, but I was so very disappointed to hear the way my fellow white people were directing their anger in racist ways. Let us remember where those trillions have gone (to bankers and their owners) and who gave it to them (politicians of both parties) and that attacking immigrants and people of color is ignoring the real thieves, the top 1% of wealth owners.

  26. Downtownster,
    Very well said. You make some very excellent points. I would like to add a few things to what you said. I know some of the things I’m about to say might make some of you laugh, or think I’m a left winged nut, but I’m going to say it any way. When I look at history, and the way governments have at times, pitted us against one another it deeply saddens me. If you look at slavery, or the way Chinese, Irish, or Asian Americans, or the poor verses the rich were treated in this country, it makes me sick.

    I recently saw a very heart breaking but true story in a movie called, The Boy In Stripped Pajamas.” German leaders under Hitler brainwashed its citizens into believing people of the Jewish faith were evil, and causing Germany to fall. But Hitler and his top henchmen created these lovely propaganda films to show German citizens that Jews were living on farms, not in prison camps being starved and tortured. Therefore, no one questioned their leaders or gave a second thought as to what was going on behind those fences, or the smell of burning flesh in the air. 

    I see the top 1% doing the same thing. They use money and power to keep us in line. They buy and sell electeds like they buy and sell everything else. They use our fears, our incomes, our life savings, gas prices, food prices, how much water we get, and anything else they can to pit us against one another, and control us. A decade ago when things were good in this country, I rarely ever met anyone who would have said, “Screw those filthy immigrants, make em go home, or Welfare Mothers and their kids should go hungry, or I hate this or that politician, ” with the kind of hatred or vengeance I do now. It is rather frightening really. Fear and desperation are driving our citizens to do some crazy things.

    If you look at the poor communities who suffered through devastating floods, there are still many who are homeless, jobless, depressed, ill, and separated from their families. If you look at wealthier communities in other states who have suffered natural disasters, they are now fine. Why is that?

    I think we all need to take a deep breath and stand back, and take a good hard look at what is going on here. It is NOT about race, it is NOT about what party you’re in, it is NOT about Bush or Obama folks, it is about ALL OF US being fed up of being taxed to death, no government accountability, being denied the most basic necessities of life, it is about the wealthiest, and most powerful 1% getting a way with robbery, while scapegoating whomever and whatever they can.  The war of the haves and have-nots has begun. The rage of the hard working middle class, the working poor, and under privileged is busting at the seams to be heard.

    I fear there will be many losers, and few survivors if we don’t start pulling together, helping one another, and showing one another some kindness and human compassion.

  27. Fin Fan said, “unless I’m mistaken, was attended by individual citizens who believed they had a gripe with their government.” You are 100% correct! And believe me, it is only going to get worse as cooperate America, and our government continues to ignore its citizens. Fear, and outrgage are a mighty powerful force that knows no bounds~

  28. Hey, John (32) – Speaking of not having a clue about the meaning of a word, what the heck is “skiting”? It sure isn’t in my dictionary.
    As for your constant fomenting against Obama, and your shot at regulation—you really think all the deregulation that has taken place has made us a better country (think airlines, banking, etc.)?

  29. Hmmm…

    First, despite foreknowledge and some isolated calls for counter-demonstration (including my own post…) there was no interest in the Democratic Party or the SV4Obama group in a counter demonstration, thus it was left to the young students to respond…

    Second, the crowd defined itself as racist and as wingnutty as they come… All manner of viewpoints, some that might have validity but most were the typical of the local fringe who are rallied by KSFO and KNEW radio radicals…

    Third, Pete Constant? Man that was short political career… Unless he is planning to move to Gilroy and run for County Supervisor… and frankly our Mayor has been sounding a little odd recently as well, bemoaning the fate of all those “normal” families earning more than $250K a year… “You can’t buy a house in Silicon Valley on only 250K a year…”.

    Kind off an odd way to promote the Valley… And hope the souls of our Founders have not been too disturbed by this misuse of their legacy… I would further point out that if the Fountain in the Park goes off next summer for “budgetary” reasons, a crowd of 1,000 will look quite small…

    Which gives you some idea of how people really feel about taxes…


  30. There’s no question that Diane Solomon and the left wingers on this site [and around the nation] choose to miss the point of the “tea parties.” They need to read Steve Chapman’s article here:

    “The country has gotten into a painful fiscal predicament because both parties have let us believe we can have more and more goodies from Washington at no additional cost. The recent explosion of federal spending has succeeded in one way: It has exposed that assumption for the fiction it was.”

    The left wing media can’t deal with this, so they simply choose to make a sweeping generalization, calling everybody who attended the tea party a racist. This knee jerk reaction doesn’t serve them well now that they control the entire government.

  31. Downtownster obviously did not see Keith Olbermann and his guest Janeane Garofalo trash talking on MSNBC the other day. Garofalo called everybody at the tea parties a racist, not bothering to back up her claim with anything resembling evidence. There has been lots of this biased coverage in the left-leaning media. Then they call Fox News slanted.

    Please pay attention to all of the biased media coverage of the tea parties.

  32. Downtownster,

    Please explain the justification for your depiction of the Minutemen in post (#37), in which you brand them as racist and equate them with rot. What, besides your own feelings, is behind your hatred for a group of Americans who ask only that our laws be enforced and national sovereignty respected?

    You use “Minutemen” the way racists use, for political effect, the N-word—and you are apparently never challenged for it. Does that make it okay? Is that, the widespread acceptance in this politically-correct town, what emboldens you, for there certainly seems to be a dearth of evidence to justify your vitriol? There were lots of folks in the Old South who were never challenged for their use of the N-word, which they used very effectively to disparage decent people; are your just a different version of them?

    I Googled “Immigration Minutemen Violence” and the first entry was this:


    I didn’t find anything to indicate that the Minutemen have been anything but victims of violence—by young punks, politically-correct crusaders energized by the very bullshit that you and so many other liberals regularly sling around here. Tell me, are you a part of the vast conspiracy to produce hatred, disguise it as compassion, and then use it to wage war against political enemies who are too decent and honorable to defeat with the truth?

    Or are you just a dupe?

  33. 39 – BIG difference between Olberman’s show which is opinion based and Fox News which pretends to be a journalism-based news program.
    Nice try though to try and justify Fox’s “news” coverage and Olberman’s opinions.

  34. In addition to the nonsense at MSNBC, CNN reporter, Susan Roesgen, exhibits a clear bias in interviews at the Chicago Tea Party. Don’t try the “opinion not news” weasel exercise on this one. The news “reporter” clearly had a bias against the tea party and it showed.

    And back to MSNBC, it doesn’t matter if it’s an opinion program or not, but the person with the opinion should have supplied some facts to go with her name-calling. If someone had gone on Fox News and made racist remarks about blacks or Mexicans, Olbermann and Garofalo would have a hissy fit. This is the liberal double standard at work.

  35. Downtownster,
    Fin Fan asks a good question. What is your view of Minutemen and women? Forgive my ignorance but since when is defending our boarders racist, or wrong? If memory serves me correctly, Minutemen and women are overseen and instructed by our military forces on what to do if they see illegals crossing or trying to. They are American volunteers who love this country, some are Vets, and others are just everyday citizens who are trying to help our military keep our country safe. Not all Minutemen/women are white, wealthy, or old either. Some are even legal immigrants who love this country.

    I have never read or heard anything on the news that claim they have done anything to harm anyone who is illegally crossing the boarder. If you have some links to stories saying otherwise, I’d really like to educate myself better. 

    May be someone can explain to me what is so wrong with caring about America and being patriotic. It seems so many people could care less about this country, its traditions, and its laws. If people say they want the immigration laws respected they are called racist. I just don’t get how wanting laws honored and enforced has become so convoluted and turned into a race issue and not one of a legal, and public safety issue. If people say they want 4th of July and fireworks to take precedence over a non-American holiday like Cinco De Mayo because of budget constraints then they are called a racist. I just don’t get how race has a dam thing to do with wanting American traditions/laws and holidays respected.

  36. #37
    No one has said that everyone at the tea party was racist, however there have been questions as to the role that the minutemen played in organizing it.

    How far does the rot go? Surely Mr. Constant and the other speakers would not condone the minutemen at an event that they spoke at? Any other city council people?

    We’re waiting…

  37. 43 – Then don’t bring race into it by pitting the “non-American” holiday Cinco de Mayo against the “American” holiday July 4th. You want fireworks then find the money but don’t bring race into it as you and others have done.
    As for the “patriotic” Minutemen—vigilantes under the quise of patriotism are still vigilantes.
    The Minutemen bring out the worst in people—read their website and look at the unbelievable list of ills that would magically disappear if only we didn’t have illegal aliens. Previous regimes around the world found scapegoats on which to blame everything that is wrong and we know how “patriotic” those dictators were.
    We have problems in this country and the Minutemen certainly aren’t helping to solve them. Maybe they will pay for your fireworks except some illegal immigrants might slip into the crowd and also view the display and they wouldn’t like that.

  38. Jimmy (#44),

    Since you believe it necessary when mentioning the Minutemen to put parentheses around the word patriotic, I would’ve thought you’d have cited something factual to support your obvious questioning of this group’s commitment to our nation. But no, you didn’t. Just like all the others the best you can do is to defame your fellow Americans and suggest that they “bring out the worst in people.” Really! And what worst have they brought out? Do you have evidence that a single otherwise stable American has been driven to violence or hatred due to the existence of the Minutemen? Or is it really the case that you would go to any lengths to try to wrap your warped and unjustified hatred for these people with even the slimmest thread of logic?

    I can give you endless examples of good people and honorable groups bringing out the worst in people. We see it in the Bay Area all the time, as the best efforts of peaceful anti-war protestors are regularly tainted by the antics of violent, destructive radicals. But has anyone here, or in the mainstream media, branded the anti-war movement as hateful, lunatic, or dangerous? Tell me, have you seen any snot-nosed reporters asking smug questions of peaceful anti-war protestors, or trying to destroy the legitimacy of their political position by holding them accountable for the actions of free-lance anarchists?

    It is quite obvious that in politically-correct America the right to petition the government is now subject to a double-standard, one in which the rights of peaceful liberal protestors are respected and objectively reported, while the rights of peaceful conservative protestors are attacked and mocked by the media.

    How long before you compassionate liberals relegate all conservatives to the back of the bus?

  39. Jimmy,

    I did look at the website, it’s just that I didn’t see anything to justify your attack. What did you see? In your post you questioned their patriotism, yet cited no evidence. You called them vigilantes, but referenced not a single illegal act.

    Is the sky the limit? Operating with any discernible standard of proof, as you do, how long before you accuse the Minutemen of terrifying poor Mexicans by conjuring up evil spirits?

    You want an intelligent conversation, say something intelligent. I challenged you to justify your own words and how did you respond? Certainly not by providing anything substantive. Instead you accuse me of falling back on a tired and inaccurate argument, specifically the blaming of liberals and the media. Tell me, where is the intelligence in your accusation? Explain to me how it could ever have been possible for our politicians to suppress the enforcement of laws and ignore the voice of the majority (vote) without the vigorous support of the media and liberals in politics and academia?

    Just as segregationist conservatives and the media in the old south once made their vision a reality, multiculturalist liberals and the media in politically-correct America are today pursuing a reality of their own, and doing so without any regard for the laws on the books, the universally-respected notion of borders, or the rights and dignity of the decent and patriotic Americans who oppose them. You are certainly free to support their cause—hell, you’re free to support anarchists if you wish, but don’t confuse the personal pleasure you get spewing your hatred towards decent, law-abiding Americans with your being intelligent, a better person, or on the right side of anything.

  40. 45 – First, I put quotes around the words, not parentheses.
    I did cite something factual—the Minutemen’s own website. Apparently you choose to ignore their own words and deflect the argument into the same, old, tired nonsense about liberal this and liberal that.
    It is difficult to actually have an intelligent discussion about this since you always resort to blaming the ills of the world on the liberals and the press. Ah, if it were only that simple.

  41. #46-Jimmy,
    I think you need to re-read my post. RACE is NOT the issue here, but people like you tend to find a way to make it the issue. There are MILLIONS of people of color who are proud, loving, good AMERICANS! There are legal immigrants of every race who are good AMERICANS. My wanting the celebration of the history of THIS country, and honoring our Vets of ALL races to take precedence over ANY other “non American” celebration is in no way racist except in your mind.

    You claim you give facts but where are they?
    Where is any supporting documentation that wanting America celebrated IN America over a non-American celebration showing that is racist? It is NOT. It is called “patriotism.” If other cultures can be proud of their country and celebrate it, so can I. In case you don’t know what patriotism means:


    Love of country; devotion to the welfare of one’s country; the virtues and actions of a patriot; the passion which inspires one to serve one’s country.


    ThesaurusLegend:  Synonyms Related Words Antonyms
    Noun   1. patriotism – love of country and willingness to sacrifice for it; “they rode the same wave of popular patriotism”; “British nationalism was in the air and patriotic sentiments ran high” nationalismloyalty, trueness – the quality of being loyalAmericanism – loyalty to the United States and its institutionschauvinism, superpatriotism, ultranationalism, jingoism – fanatical patriotism

  42. Downtownster:  your basic argument is that

    1- Anti-immigrant movements of the late 19th and early 20th century were often racist.
    2- Today’s Minutemen are anti-immigrant
    3- Therefore today’s Minutemen must be racist.

    Do you honestly see no problem with the syllogism?

    Here’s another:

    1- Early posters on this thread are often named Kathleen or FinFan.
    2- Downtownster is a poster on this thread.
    3- Therefore Downtownster is really Kathleen or FinFan.

    It’s the same argument.

  43. Downtownster,

    Let me get this right: you go to the Minutemen website, discover that they are multicultural and law abiding, don’t find anything overtly racist, and then go on in your post to refer to them as “racists” (“I think that the minutemen and the other racists”) who are “at best” dupes punishing immigrants who are our neighbors or at worst white supremacists.

    What ‘cha smokin’, dude? Are you incapable of believing your own eyes? How can you read the Minutemen website and look at their record and then say they are punishing immigrants? The Minutemen aren’t in the punishment business, and the target of their movement is ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS, not immigrants. And what justifies your calling them white supremacists? I’ll answer for you: your own preconceived notions. The only race supremacists involved in the immigration controversy are operating under the banner of La Raza.

    What the Minutemen are “at best” is a collection of patriotic Americans who believe that this is a nation of laws, not a nation of political whores. Try to disprove that.

    You want to insert the history of Native American displacement into this debate for what reason? Because the rest of your arguments are so contrived? Feast upon the revolting racial agenda in your own dissertation of the facts: you place blame for the killing on the English and German settlers, but omit the Spaniards? Too much melanin and dark hair for blame? Your post is dripping with agenda!

    You conclude with this gem: “… there will be more than enough money to go around when the rich, their bankers, and their politicians are in jail and we are no longer liable for all those trillions and can use that money as we see fit.”

    A manifesto, by any other name.

  44. #49- Downtownster,
    Thank you for giving an honest reply. After reading both your and Fin Fan’s responses, I have a few thoughts. While I agree that ALL organizations have their share of racist whackos, who join up to try and destroy the mission of a group that do not share their ideals, I must say I think you are confusing patriotism with racism, and law abiding with racism, when it comes to Minutemen/women. I think I need to point out once again that the military oversees and instructs the Minutemen/women guarding our borders. They are not left to their own devices or their own means of enforcing the law. Also, many of the Minutemen/women are Vets. They have served our country and while now retired or forced to leave the military due to injury, they love this country enough to carry on protecting it in a manner they feel is important. 

    Also, I want to point out that I, along with many other Americans of ALL colors, and cultures, oppose “illegal” immigration based on the law, not racism. To say someone wanting immigration laws followed is racist is untrue. They are simply being “lawful” and abiding by laws that are designed to keep our country, and its citizens safe from communicable diseases, crime, and other serious consequences of illegal immigration. (In fairness, I will concede that American corporations have not only encouraged illegal immigration because it is highly profitable, they should be punished for violating the law when they employ illegal immigrants. I will also concede that Mexico and OUR government share a huge part of the responsibility for this outrageous influx of illegals because it is also highly profitable to the Mexican economy, and to our electeds who get money to win a campaign with funds by these companies in the US that hire illegals. Again we can see greed at the forefront of this unfortunate mess.)

    Please don’t forget that we have millions of “legal” immigrants in this country. They gave up just as much if not more than illegal immigrants have to come into this country. They have loved this country enough to follow its rules, pay thousands of dollars in fees to come here, gone through extensive medical exams, been injected with painful vaccines, background checks, you name it they’ve done it to be here legally. They have studied for and taken exams for the honor and privilege of becoming a US citizen, and being called an American. Some of them sit guarding our borders too because they pledged their allegiance to protect this country.

    Until and unless I hear proof that Minutemen/women are doing anything other than protecting our borders in a lawful way, I will feel safer at night knowing our over stretched military has the help of people like the Minutemen/women of America guarding our borders.

    And finally, I agree the poor and working class in the US have suffered greatly. They are fed up and hence many of all races, and mixed party affiliations have joined together to participate in Tea Parties all over the US. One voice to our leaders in government, and one message, “enough is enough!”

  45. #40 finfan
    #43 Kathleen

    In response to your question about why I call the minutemen racist, I thought it would be best not to reply with something flippant, so I visited the minutemen’s websites (minutemanhq and minutemanproject) and answered as fully as I could.

    You are both correct that the websites have no messaging that is overtly racist.

    Their messaging focuses on:
    -assisting law enforcement in doing their job
    -forbidding each other from stepping over the line with immigrants or with opponents
    -stressing that there are people of color among them and that they are in fact multiculturalists

    The calendar on minutemanproject lists events such as rallying to support Sheriff Joe Arpaio, the Tea Parties, rifle marksmanship classes, and military memorabilia shows.

    Overall, the minutemen look like a movement of people who are dedicated to focusing the attention of the people of the U.S. on illegal immigration as the primary problem in need of fixing.

    So why do I call the minutemen racist?

    I call the minutemen racist because of their project:  mobilizing the people of the U.S. to oppose immigration (legal or illegal). As Kathleen and I agreed before (#21 and #22), the legitimate concerns of people in the U.S. about their economic well-being and loss of the hope that our children will live better lives than we did is because of the economic policies of the richest 1% and their politicians, not immigrants, legal or illegal.

    I think that the minutemen and the other racists who try to focus peoples frustrations onto immigration are:
    -at best: dupes of the rich, covering the scent of the blood on the hands of the rich with the more tangible and easier to punish immigrants who are our neighbors and fellow workers
    -at worst: white supremacists who are fanning the flames of racial resentment of mostly white workers in the U.S. who are truly hurting due to the downsizing and outsourcing of the last 3 decades plus the economic crisis we are currently in so that they can polarize society and then escalate the conflict as much as possible

    I think that the minutemen are just the latest and smoothest in a long line of anti-immigrant political movements here in the U.S. that have risen up whenever more immigrants were coming here than the people here wanted.

    The most strenuous and enduring of the anti-immigration movements has been the 500 year resistance of indigenous people against genocide and colonialism by the English, Dutch, and Spanish. Props to the indigenous people of this hemisphere, and especially here in the U.S. for surviving and never ever giving up, and the minutemen should really not worry so much since the current immigrants seem much more civilized than we were and better at sharing with us than we were with the indigenous.

    As the mostly English and German initial settlers killed off the indigenous people and occupied their land, millions of European economic and political refugees fled to the U.S. to get a piece of that land and each wave of immigrants were opposed by a wave of nativist anti-immigrant organizing by poor and working class people.
    -1850’s “American Party aka. The Know Nothings” who opposed Irish Catholic immigration
    -1870’s Irish immigrants violently opposed the immigration of Chinese workers pushing through the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882
    -1890’s “Immigration Restriction League” formed to oppose immigration from Eastern and Southern Europe
    -1920’s “Ku Klux Klan” flourished in opposition to Italian and Polish Catholics who were immigrating heavily at that time (in addition to anti-Semitism and anti-Black vigilante violence) and who have never gone away

    The suffering of the poor and working class in the U.S. has been huge under globalization with its downsizing and outsourcing, and people who have always expected that their children would be better off than they were are seeing that that future has been stolen now that even their birthright of homeownership and tax-deductible mortgages is slipping away and the economy is collapsing. However, that is just a tiny taste of what drives Mexican and Central American or Chinese or Pilipino or Cambodian people to risk all and walk or be shipped in unsafe conditions to the U.S.

    Therefore, if people are serious about getting justice let us stop scapegoating immigrants and get serious about getting our money back from AIG, Citigroup, Wells Fargo. It may require more than blogging and voting, but it will be far more rewarding than blaming the victims of globalization who are, after all, only following the dictates of the global market. Plus there will be more than enough money to go around when the rich, their bankers, and their politicians are in jail and we are no longer liable for all those trillions and can use that money as we see fit.

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