I saw a very large pick up truck barreling down the freeway Sunday with 2 mullet wearing white guys and 2 bumper stickers on the back of their truck. One said, “Don’t Tread on Me.” The other one said, “Don’t Blame Me, I voted for the American.” I was caught between feeling horrified, disgusted, and a little afraid. You see, my first impulse was to pull alone side Bubba and J.R., smile like I was flirting, and share my middle digit with them. But it occurred to me, that people like that actually kill over very small things. I was pretty sure there was a shootin’ iron somewhere in the truck, and a man who couldn’t wait to use. I am also trying to grow up and stop doing things like that, flipping people off and making my self a target of potentially deadly maniacs.
Now I know some will argue that the Gadsen flag is as patriotic as apple pie and supporting same sex marriage. It was designed by and is named after American general and statesman Christopher Gadsden and was carried by the Continental Marines during the American Revolution. But these days I believe it has come to symbolize another kind of revolution, and is intended as a subtle (or not so subtle) threat to liberals, gays, non Christians and persons of color in general. They call themselves “The Tea Party” movement. The used to call themselves “Tea Baggers” until someone finally took pity and let them in on what that phrase actually means. Oops! I still call them Tea Baggers, cause I think it’s funny and I think they are The Ugly Americans.
I refuse to pretend to believe that the Tea Baggers came to be because of taxes, although that is their rallying cry. They came to be when a black man, and a Democrat won the office of President of the United States. If taxes were the issue, then I don’t see how such venom, pun intended, came to be as most Americans pay less taxes than when Bush was in office. It also can’t be because of the economy, as that began it’s amazingly swift decent into the black hole when Bush was in office. National Debt can’t be the issue because when Bush left office, he left us with an off the charts deficit. No, it’s all the about the black guy, gays fighting for their civil rights, and Tea Bag movement’s blind hate for anything or anyone different than themselves. It is also about religion. Christianity to be exact. Their “you are either with us or against us” attitude about all these issues and their believing that they are superior and entitled because of their beliefs is their true platform.
Fortunately, The Tea Baggers stick out like a pile of fresh dog poop among decent human beings. It isn’t hard for me to separate them from good, decent people. I see them self destructing in a few years in spite of their efforts to intimidate politicians and anyone else they see as a threat. After all, no one can ignore fresh dog poop just sitting there. They will be scooped up and tossed aside. Believing that keeps me from actually getting sick over the kind of hatefulness I see spewing from their bullhorns.
That said, I am left with a dilemma. I find these people as scary, repulsive and racist as The KKK. They call themselves Republicans, sometimes Libertarians, as if they are a part of a main stream political party. But I don’t see it that way, and I know several conservatives who feel the same way. And I have to tell you, one of my very best friends, and several of my good and beloved friends are Republicans. And they are not these people.
What I am learning, and practicing, is radical acceptance of the opinion of others as well as my steadfast open eye policy about The Tea Baggers. My friend, I will call her “Abby,” is literally one of the kindest, most giving persons I know. She would give anyone in need the shirt off her back. She is in a caring profession, nursing, and a dedicated one at that. She is also Christian and a Republican. We don’t talk much about politics, but when we do, it is with respect, and open minds.
I have at least half a dozen people like her in my life. I am from Orange County after all! I knew if I wanted to have diversity in my circle, that it would include not just people of different religions, nationalities, sexual preferences, and races, but political parties as well. This does not mean that I excuse or accept hateful language or behavior of a group of people who hide behind the GOP label. If I draw the line in sand based on my politics, then I am guilty of the very thing I hate, being a bigot. Plus I would miss out on a lot of awesome people.