Feeling The Heat, Tea Partiers Denounce Violence
Zachary Roth | March 26, 2010, 1:12PM
Tea Partiers and others on the right are starting to distance themselves from the recent spate of violence and racism that has characterized the opposition to health-care reform.
In a letter to President Obama and Congress released yesterday, an alliance of Florida Tea Party groups called the Tea Party movement “a peaceful movement” and declared that they “stand in stark opposition to any person using derogatory characterizations, threats of violence, or disparaging terms toward members of Congress or the President.”
A similar coalition in Colorado — where the office of Rep. Betsy Markey (D-CO) recently notified police about a phone call it received threatening violence — released a similar statement. “Tea party and similar groups across Colorado are saddened tonight to hear of threats made upon Democratic lawmakers in response to the passing their recent health insurance reform legislation, specifically … Rep. Betsy Markey,” it said.
And FreedomWorks, the Washington grassroots lobbying group that has helped co-ordinate Tea Party events put out a statement declaring “political violence is both immoral and ineffective, and will only set the movement back.”
Separately, Debbie Dooley, a co-founder of the Atlanta Tea Party and a national coordinator for Tea Party Patriots, told Fox News: “We support peaceful means,” adding, “there are so many Tea Party groups that are out there. … It’s like herding cats. It’s impossible.”
Even Glenn Beck — not known for his cool head — has counseled his followers against violence, calling it counter-productive.
As we’ve reported, the last few days have seen a spate of violent attacks on Democratic offices around the country, as well as threats against several Democrats who voted for reform. The protests over the weekend at the Capitol involved incidents of racism and homophobia.
So it’s significant that some Tea Partiers and their allies are starting to feel the need to distance themselves from the violence, for fear of being associated with it. In normal times, it might be unremarkable for activists to declare that violence is bad. But these are hardly normal times.