I was recently a protestor against the Tea Party Rally that was held in Ruston. I did so by making a sign that said “Tea Party=KKK.” To many, it may appear that I made a ainst the Tea Party Rally that was held in Ruston. I I would be dead wrong. Needless to say, that wasn’t the point I was trying to make.For as long as the United States has existed, people have opposed taxes, hence tea parties. Since President Obama has been in office, there has been an influx of people who, up to that point, had been apolitical.
Take, for example, the woman who cried after arguing with me. It was apparent from the beginning that she was not familiar with the political process. This is because she tried to report me to the police for having a sign in a public place – clearly not knowing that I was protected by the First Amendment. These are the people you see on the news with signs with racist terms and images on them and who make such outrageous accusations that the president is a terrorist.
While I saw none of this at the Ruston rally, the racism of several of the attendees was made obvious in other ways. For example, after seeing my sign, a group of men started yelling “Hey you boy!” at me. The most clear example of racism came, ironically, during the speech of evangelist Larry Rhone. The preacher made it a point to bash Reverends Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson and the NAACP, all to WILD applause from the crowd. Also, when a young Caucasian man in the audience spoke out against the outrageous claims that he was making, Rhone replied, “What shocks me is that he’s White!” as if all White people have to think the same way.
By denouncing his Blackness throughout his speech, Rhone built a rapport with the crowd. This spoke volumes. Basically, without intending to, Rhone revealed that, to many, this is not an issue of taxation but an issue of Black and White. The evangelist made several other outrageous statements, i.e. that anyone that isn’t a Christian should be forced to leave their religion in their home country and that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton should be pushing up daisies! How Christian is that? Furthermore, he could not defend his views when questioned.
Of course, there were people in the crowd who were really there for the cause at hand and knew what they were talking about. These individuals were able to engage in intelligent, calm debate, which, as a political science major in undergrad and a current public administration student, I appreciated.
To sum it all up, my sign was made off an impulse. I am man enough to admit that. Clearly, every member of the Tea Party movement is not racist. However, racism is a big part of this movement, and many members of the crowd made it clear with their responses to my sign and with their reaction to Rhone’s denouncing of the African American community in his speech. While there do appear to be legitimate members of the North Louisiana Tea Party Coalition, the movement will never really be a serious political force if they continue to push outrageous figures like Larry Rhone or misinformed people like the “lady who cried” to the forefront.
Terry Young is a GSU graduate student from Grambling.