By Stefanie Schappert
Special to the Clyde Fitch Report
Tax day notoriously means many things for many people. For some, it’s panic-diving through piles of paperwork to find that receipt you “swear” you didn’t throw away, followed by the late-night scramble to the post office at 11:59pm. For others, it’s the anticipation of a big fat check from Uncle Sam, or maybe it’s the sinking pit in your stomach after you’ve recalculated for the umpteenth time what you owe to the IRS. Or for those of you like me, it’s putting off the inevitable misery and just filing an extension. So, after calling my accountant and realizing I had all this time on my hands, I decided to check out the big Apr. 15 Tea Party that took place in midtown Manhattan just steps from the James A. Farley Post Office, a.k.a. the tax-day mother ship.
“What did you say? You are actually going to associate with those racist, homophobic lunatics?” That is the token reaction I got from most of my friends, peppered with “be careful” from those who really care about me. My Long Island mom, on the other hand, didn’t even know what the Tea Party is. As a journalist, my interest was piqued; I even decided to write about the Tea Party for the Examiner.com to find out what the controversy was all about. With all the mainstream media frenzy and negative accusations floating around on the Web, I had to see for myself if the Tea Party stereotype rang true.
The “Citizens for Fiscal Responsibility” Tea Party was sponsored by TeaParty365 and the Staten Island Tea Party. TeaParty365 is the brainchild of conservative radio host David Webb,who just happens to also be black. Yes, I know only 1 percent of blacks support the Tea Party. In fact, to quote Webb, who spoke at the rally, “I have news for the Obama Administration: there are black Republicans and I am one of them…[T]his is an American movement and all are welcome.” Racist.
Now, back to my story. Taking my husband along for security, we first attended a pre-rally event at a local tavern across the street from the main stage (see slide show, above). There, we met up with Sirius/XM conservative radio hosts Mike Church and Andrew Wilkow, plus crew, about to broadcast the rally live on stage. The crowd was a mix of working-class and professional, mostly male, ages 20 to 60, most wearing patriotic t-shirts and enjoying a few beers and political conversation before the event. Hmmm, nothing radical here. I moved on.
Getting down to the nitty-gritty, the crowds were thick and the signs were aplenty. Cops estimated a few thousand people showed up to protest (again, see slide show above). Walking through the crowds, everyone I saw was well-behaved and pretty mellow. There were a plethora of viewpoints represented, from the group Hip Hop Republican to the popular blogger Urban Infidel. Yes, the crowd was filled with more white men ages 35 to 50, but that pretty much skews along with the general population numbers. And, surprise to all of you Tea Party haters, there were no spitting on blacks, no gay slurs, no shouts of government overthrow. Just good old-fashioned Tea Party rhetoric about less taxes and limited government.
Check out the video above — I spoke with random people to find out why they were there. Sadly, many didn’t want to talk, fearing backlash from their liberal families, friends and neighbors, like the older Jewish couple from the Upper West Side who told me that Obama was spending like a “drunken sailor.” The husband, who pridefully told me he was part of the black voter registration drive in Mississippi back in the 1960s, said he “became a conservative after he grew up.” Echoing the Tea Party’s older demographic, the gentleman said he was “concerned what will happen to his grandchildren,” adding, “Who is going to pay off the debt?” Wise. Caitlyn Williams, a 21-year-old actress living in New York City, was not afraid to identify herself. “It’s not just middle-aged Americans, it’s young people, too,” she said, noting that the Tea Party made her feel like her voice “can be heard.” Simple.
What about the infamous Tea Party “crashers”? None that I saw. There was a fake reporter running around claiming she was from Newsweek. She was obviously trying to capture some illicit sound-bite. When asked for ID, she quietly disappeared. Ethical. There were three 20-somethings shouting down a member of the military in full uniform. Nice. Above the commotion, a banner hung from an apartment window that read “Go Away Teabaggers.” Classy. I watched Craig Fitzgerald, a dredlocked white guy and “9/11 Truther,” get bombarded by camera crews all night because he was pretty much the only radical anti-government Tea Partier around, besides the anti-Tea Party website Bailoutthepeople.org (again, see video above).
In fact, the “Bailouts” were the only ones I heard shouting racial epithets — it’s just that they were directed at the Tea Party supporters. Ironic.
Fred Goldstein, head of the communist World Workers Party, explained he was there to “fight the right-wing, racist party.” One of his “Bailout” cohorts told me she considers the Tea Party “a racist, anti-immigrant, anti-gay, spit-on-Barney-Frank party.” I just have to ask why the New York left is all about free speech except when that speech is not what they believe. Then it’s “racist, moronic and homophobic” — the eloquent words from the more recent anti-Tea Party protest group Crashtheteaparty.org. Their tactic is for “crashers” to pretend to be Tea Party supporters, show up at rallies with offensive signs and make sure the media catches them doing it. Witty.
The headline speaker of this Tea Party, Lou Dobbs, summed it up: “We are coming together out of love and not hate, of love and not anger, love of country, love of constitution, love of God and love of this nation’s founding principles, ideal and values,” he said. “…There is another secret the left does not want you to know — that there is one race in “America” and that’s the American citizen.” Radical.
Stefanie Schappert is a freelance journalist based in New York. A staunch conservative in a self-professed city of liberals and the military wife of a Green Beret, she created Lipstick Conservative to share her unique viewpoint on politics and culture. Schappert is also reporting on the Tea Party movement for the New York edition of the Examiner.com. Other credits include Fox News Channel and NY1 News. Schappert’s conservative viewpoint came into sharp focus following the events of September 11, 2001, the resulting political climate, and living through her husband’s multiple deployments to the Middle East. This former NFL cheerleader and lifelong dancer is known to hang out with quite a liberal crowd and has been the buzz kill during many a dinner party. Contact Stefanie or learn more at lipstickconservative.com.
Lipstick Conservative does not necessarily represent the views of The Clyde Fitch Report.