Progressives Challenge Palin Tea Party
BOSTON/Boston Common - UJP was among a range of progressive groups that challenged the war- and hate-mongering that Sarah Palin and the Tea Party Express brought to Boston Common on April 14. Only about a third of the 5,000 people on the Common were staunch Tea Partiers; another third were sympathizers, and a final third were progressives, liberals, and the curious.
Carrying signs saying "Stop the Afghanistan War" and our "Fund Jobs, Healthcare and Environmental Protection, Not War and Nuclear Weapons" banner, the UJP group was unmistakeable. We distributed "Where Has All the Money Gone" flyers to remind Tea Partiers, who are strongly concerned about taxes, that the biggest bite of their tax dollar goes to fund the military. We engaged in many conversations with Tea Partiers and others. A significant number of Ron Paul-type Tea Party supporters agreed with our antiwar message and agreed with us that they have a problem with Palin.
A diverse array of progressive groups were visible. From the peace movement, UJP was joined by Stop the Wars Coalition and Veterans for Peace, who displayed their own banners and flags. The Raging Grannies performed peace songs. The Unitarian-Universalist Standing on the Side of Love campaign brought love to the Tea Party with an energetic and positive contingent calling attention to gay rights, abortion rights, and intolerance in general.
The Bail out the People Movement, marching and chanting through the crowd, denounced Tea Party bigotry. Obama supporters gathered signatures. A previously unorganized group of Beacon Hill neighbors stood near UJP carrying handmade "No to Sarah Palin" signs. A Billionaires for Palin group was dressed in evening gowns and tuxedos, and an "Our Tea Party Has Cookies" contingent apparently spent the whole day ignoring the fuss on a blanket spread out near the Parkman Bandstand. A group of MIT students carried parody pro-Tea Party signs (which actually had me fooled for a while), Tufts students protested, and a larger but scattered group entered the crowd with bogus Tea Party signs to confuse and mock the reactionaries.
The Boston Herald covered the counter-Tea Party protesters, and the Salem News interviewed antiwar UU minister Art McDonald. The Tufts Daily covered the anti-Tea Party contingent. UJP's Cole Harrison debated right-wing talk show host Jeff Katz for 20 minutes before the event on the newly launched -- and extremely dangerous -- Rush Radio 1200. (It's necessary to be very aggressive to successfully engage in that medium, it's very important, and we're starting the learning curve.)
Medea Benjamin of Code Pink wrote about the value of dialogue with those Tea Partiers who aren't consolidated on an intolerant message.