Detroit News' Finley Hits A Home Run

Unions’ tea party goes unjudged

NOLAN FINLEY

A year ago, Americans spilled into the streets and swarmed capitols to protest what they saw as an intolerable change in the nation's course.

The awakening of an electorate assumed to be immobilized by apathy stunned political pundits and cultural observers, who got to work sorting out what it meant. They disregarded the movement's message, and instead focused on its methods and motives.

Because most were new to political activism and often awkward in the spotlight, the protesters were dismissed as rubes or extremists, satirized and marginalized on both late night talk shows and Sunday morning gabfests. The initial conclusion was that this was a phony production staged by the party out of power.

When they didn't go away, and when their message caught fire with voters, the punditry delved deeper. What they found was something far more sinister than first thought.

The intensity of the discontent, the commentariat concluded, risked unraveling the national fabric. The mass demonstrations outside government buildings, though usually without incident, were cast as potentially explosive.

When members of the movement crowded town halls to shout at politicians whose attention they couldn't get any other way, it was denounced as a hijacking of democracy by the angry mob.

Some of the signs carried by protesters crossed into bad taste, using Nazi references and questionable caricatures of the president. Proof, the pundits declared, that these were racists in patriot clothing.

A few politicians received veiled death threats, and since the protesters were sometimes given to using gun imagery, the movement was deemed to be not only an assault on civil discourse, but a real and present danger. Politicians reminded us constantly of how frightened they felt.

It's a year later, and another group of Americans is spilling into the streets and swarming capitols. They are even louder and angrier than last year's bunch, whose tactics they've adopted and escalated.

But this time the political pundits and cultural observers are entirely focused on the group's message, with little interest in motive or methods.

Although this group is jamming meetings and shouting down politicians, no one is concerned about the impact on democracy. Although this group carries signs depicting politicians in Hitler fashion, no one is disgusted.

Although this group has a history of violence, no one is threatened when the demonstrations turn to rage. Although some also paint cross hairs on signs, and even though politicians have received death threats, no one is worried they present a physical danger.

The first group, obviously, is the tea party and their Republican allies, and the second group is Big Labor and their Democratic partners.

The real difference between them is that the second group has a firm grip on those who spin the message in this country.

nfinley@detnews.com

Nolan Finley is editorial page editor of The News.

No votes yet

You can't say that in an editorial and sign it! At least not in Toledo!

Statements made are the opinion of the writer who is exercising his first amendment right to freedom of speech. Freedom of speech in the United States is protected by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution and are generally permitted.

The fruits of MY labor are not a social commodity.

From the guy who thinks Guantanamo Bay is there to defend a foreign country.

Need I say more?

MikeyA

Imagine that, liberal hypocrisy.

Did anyone make it past the 2:30 min mark of this video?

Any statement I make is the opinion of me exercising my first amendment right to freedom of speech. Freedom of speech in the United States is protected by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution and is generally permitted.

Poll: Tea Party image slipping with Americans
By Catalina Camia, USA TODAY
Americans are getting more negative about the Tea Party with nearly 50% saying in a new poll that they have an unfavorable view of the anti-tax movement. (MORE)
http://content.usatoday.com/communities/onpolitics/post/2011/03/tea-part...

Statements made are the opinion of the writer who is exercising his first amendment right to freedom of speech. Freedom of speech in the United States is protected by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution and are generally permitted.

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