I gotta hand it to Americans for Prosperity (aka the Tea Party), they really know how to play to some people's lizard brains. The rallying cries against "Communism", "Socialism" and "Marxism" and various other irrationally perceived societal ills are endemic to this group. They're used as interchangeable boogeyman buzzwords intended to strike fear in the hearts of what Tea Partiers consider "real Americans".
Their fear, bordering on what appears to me to be abject cowardice, has bubbled to the surface and manifested itself into behavior unworthy of even the nastiest schoolyard bully.
A small political gathering of about 18 liberal thinkers at River Forks Park Sunday afternoon erupted in conflict when about 35 members of the conservative tea party intruded upon the meeting, waving flags and holding signs accusing the rival group of being communists, Marxists and socialists.
The liberal group — organized by MoveOn.org — decided to leave the park and move its potluck to a nearby home. Members of the conservative group followed, parking at the entrance of a private lane leading to the home to continue their protest.
Roseburg Democrats Dean and Sara Byers said Monday they told tea party members who followed that they were not welcome to drive down the lane to their home.
The Byerses said they got out of their car to stop vehicles from entering the driveway and one tea party member almost ran them over.
Sara Byers said she was so shaken she called 911. She said a Douglas County deputy called about an hour and a half later and said he had been unable to respond because of other incidents. Byers said she was still considering filing a criminal complaint against members of the tea party for harassment.
A leader of the tea party group, Rich Raynor of Roseburg, disputed the liberal group's version of events.
“They are liars,” said Raynor, director of Douglas County Americans for Prosperity. “That is what communists do.”
Clearly the fine details of what took place are in dispute. What isn't, however, are the overt attempts at intimidation and bullying perpetuated by Raynor and the others that showed up to shut down a tiny, peaceful group who chose to meet to talk. Last I checked, that's still allowed in the US. And while MoveOn is decidedly NOT communist, socialist or Marxist--it shouldn't matter if they are. People in the United States are allowed to discuss and promote those ideas if that's what they really believe.
Why are Raynor and his ilk so desperately frightened? Are their own ideas and beliefs so weak that they can't stand up to a miniscule group even having an opposition discussion about them?
I was a teenager when the Soviet Union collapsed. But I remember one of the hallmarks of that nation was the disallowing of competing ideas. It seems to me that Raynor and his henchpeople are guilty of doing exactly what the Soviets did: attempting to shut down dissent.
Members of the smaller group said Monday they were intimidated by the tea partiers, whom they accused of violating their constitutional right to peacefully assembly.
Roseburg resident Lillen Fifield, 70, called the group's actions an “act of domestic terrorism” and said she was appalled that a peaceful gathering — mostly of women older than 65 — was interrupted.
“It is not OK to go around and intimidate and threaten people. That is not acceptable in a polite society,” Fifield said.
Conservative organizers defended their actions and said they will continue to protest similar gatherings.
“We were there to find out what they had to say and to bring a notice to the public that this kind of thing was going on. Quite honestly, if they have it again, then we are really going to make it well known,” Raynor said.
Raynor said the group believes MoveOn.org is a communist front and said he would not stand for America becoming a fascist nation.
Rich Raynor is a real estate agent in Douglas County and Douglas County Director of Americans for Prosperity. He's also apparently completely unaware of the meaning of the terminology he's bandying about.
I suspect that Mr. Raynor has no idea what he's really afraid of..only that he's afraid. So afraid..so deeply steeped in his own soup of cowardice, that he can't stand even the idea of a small group of little old ladies meeting quietly to discuss something that he quite clearly knows very little about.