Letter: Hypocrisy knows no bounds

Within the past two years, the American mainstream media has given significant attention to the grassroots organization known as the Tea Party. Started to protest tax increases and big government spending by President Barack Obama, the Tea Party exploded into a nationwide phenomenon.

The Tea Party is portrayed in a profoundly negative light in the media; depending on whether you’re listening to Chris Matthews or Sean Hannity. Networks such as CNN and MSNBC continuously make slanderous accusations against Tea Party members, stating they are out-of-control racists, sexists, homophobic and religious fanatics looking to over-run the country. As such, I feel it necessary to enlighten the public on a few realities they won’t be hearing about on CNN and MSNBC.

This last weekend several of my friends and I traveled to Wisconsin to counter-protest at the state capitol in Madison. For those who are unaware, the governor, state house and state senate — all elected Republican officials — are pushing a bill that will take away many bargaining rights for government unions.

The bill will also require everyone in the public sector, excluding firefighters and police officers, to pay 5.8 percent of their earnings into their pension plans and 12 percent of their earnings into their health care. Over 70,000 people flooded the streets to protest, with the overwhelming majority being pro-labor supporters opposed to the bill.

Our first stop was the Tea Party rally being held for those who were counter-protesting. The rally was very peaceful, as were the signs counter-protesters were holding. Signs had slogans such as “Pass the Bill” and “We Support Governor Walker.” In addition, there was nothing rude said to the protesters, even when one was disrespectfully interrupting our rally with boisterous shouts of “Kill the Bill! Kill the Bill!”

As we left the rally, we were instantly met with verbal slurs and insults from pro-union protesters in reference to our signs depicting President Ronald Reagan. There were several comments directed towards us such as, “Did you know he is dead? Not going to help you much now!”, “I’m glad he’s dead, he was a horrible president!” and “Did you know he s*** himself and they had to change his diaper for him?”, referring President Reagan’s battle with Alzheimer’s disease later in his life.

Even worse than this were the people screaming at us that we were uneducated and had no right to hold our signs. These comments were irrelevant to their purpose, yet they still yelled them to try and provoke us.

Several times throughout the day, police officers and other union members stopped people from coming up and shouting at us as to deter any potential violent situations. Aside from the malignant comments hurled at us, several people were carrying inflammatory posters depicting Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker as Adolf Hitler, saying how Hitler banned unions as well.

For a party that preaches tolerance, acceptance, and equal rights for all, I found it incredibly hypocritical they did not respect our right to assemble as we did for them. I’m not saying the Tea Party is exempt from idiots who defame and offend people due to a general lack of respect and education, but let us not forget the door swings both ways.