Wednesday, May 12, 2010
Right Making Mountain Out of Carson's Non-Comments on Tea Party Protesters
While the rest of us have moved on, the right wing is trying to score some points on 7th District U.S. Rep. Andre Carson after he linked extreme protesters to a threat against national security on the day the health care vote took place.
We all remember the scene. Carson, John Lewis, and other members of Congress were accosted by an angry mob outside the Capitol Building. In addition to "Kill the Bill" and other sophomoric chants, the mob allegedly hurled some racial epithets towards the group of African-American lawmakers. No video evidence has been supplied that disproves Congressman Carson's account of the events, but, since no video exists to prove it either, the right claims that it's all a big lie. I believe Congressman Carson's account.
Anyway, after being intercepted by the mob of angry protesters...many of which may or may not have been identifiable members of the Tea Party, Carson ran into some reporters. In the audio, Carson says, essentially, that groups like the one that just accosted his group are the kinds of groups that might be threats to national security.
Anti-Carson (and, as some like my friend Chris Worden have said, anti-Muslim) blogger Gary Welsh is among the most recent bloggers to pick up the standard by trying to apply Carson's comments to Tea Party protesters. Well folks, you can listen to the audio Gary posted on his Advance Indiana blog by clicking here and you'll find no point where Carson directly says Tea Party people are terrorists. It just doesn't exist.
Listen, Congressman Carson is right. The political climate that we live in today has created an undercurrent for extremism on both the right and the left. Perhaps the Congressman was overgeneralizing the crowd, but his point is a valid one. One needs look no further than the recent Hutaree Militia busts in the Midwest to see the face of terror in this country is potentially very diverse. The Hutaree Militia did plead not guilty, by the way.
The problem is that no one can easily define just what the Tea Party is or what it stands for. So, if the Tea Party wants to avoid being overgeneralized, it can explain to the public what its platform contains. What its position on the issues are, and who are the identifiable leaders for the organization? Otherwise, there are some that Carson was talking about that may be hijacking the Tea Party label for their own purposes.
If I were the Tea Party, I would be working to ostracize those folks from my movement and distance myself from them. Otherwise, you may risk connections that you don't want. In this case, though, I don't think Carson was singling out the Tea Partiers. It's a faulty connection by Welsh and others.