April 14th, 2010
07:27 PM ET
4 years ago

Tea Party activists battle criticisms

Naveed Easton was one of a smattering of counter-protesters at a Tea Party rally Wednesday in Boston.
Naveed Easton was one of a smattering of counter-protesters at a Tea Party rally Wednesday in Boston.

Boston (CNN) - Tea Party activists cast their cause as a patriotic movement from Americans fearful about the nation's direction during a rally Wednesday in Boston's Common. But their message clashed with critics who cast Tea Party activists as "victims of misinformation."

The well-attended event featured a long roster of speakers, including former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin. It's the last stop before the Tea Party Express 3 national tour ends in Washington, D.C., on Thursday.

Virtually all of the speakers at the Boston event railed against the Obama administration's policies, which they believe highlight big government run amok.

But Tea Party activists also found themselves on the receiving end of criticism from a smattering of anti-Tea Party protesters in the crowd.
To be sure, the number of critics at the rally was small compared to the Tea Party activists. But the volume of the opposing criticism was evident.

Tea Party opponent Mike Hoban said that Tea Party activists "are people that are the victims of misinformation campaigns" and that the Tea Party movement does not represent "the concerns of most Americans."

Levi Russell, communications director for the Tea Party Express 3 tour, disagreed and told CNN that the Tea Party movement supports the rights of their critics to speak their minds.

"It's a constitutional movement. And a big part of that is freedom of speech," Russell said. "One of the reasons that we're here is that we're standing up for their right to say what they want."

But inflamed passions on both sides sparked at least one protracted argument between a crowd of Tea Party members and a single opponent.
In the verbal clash, the angry throng of Tea Party activists surrounded 20-year-old Naveed Easton, incensed by a neon green sign he held that read, "White people are pissed."

"What were you thinking when you wrote that?" a woman's shouted at Easton.

In an exchange of impassioned and heated words, the 20-year-old said he was trying to make a point about how extreme he believes Tea Party activists are.

Easton said he was fed up with "people ignorantly throwing terms like communism, socialism, Marxism, fascism that they don't know and they can't define."

"It's a ridiculous movement," Easton said as he was surrounded by supporters of the movement.

Tea Party activists are especially sensitive to any claim from their critics that they harbor racist thoughts. Activists adamantly state they oppose President Barack Obama's policies – not his race – although Tea Party protesters have often carried signs and shouted slogans that could be interpreted as racist.

Some Tea Party leaders have said such signs stoke a negative stereotype against the movement, but others – including New York Tea Party gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino – have forwarded e-mails depicting Obama and the first lady as an 80s-era pimp and prostitute and a video of an African tribal dance entitled "Obama Inaugural Rehearsal."


Filed under: Massachusetts • Sarah Palin • Tea Party movement
soundoff (45 Responses)
  1. aware

    Pray for America! Obama is the closest we have ever come to the angel of light – the anti-Christ! :(

    April 14, 2010 07:34 pm at 7:34 pm |
  2. LacrosseMom(the real one)

    No matter what the Tea Partiers say, how many times they argue that they are not racists, that they are not haters, that they are just 'regular' people, all one has to do is watch one of their protests to know that ........ yeah........ there is racism, there is hate and they are the fringe.

    A recent Gallup Poll of March 26-28 2010, gave these results:

    28% of people approve of the TP; 26% are opposed; 38% say neither; and 8% do not have an opinion.

    Movement? No, just a fringe group of angry, angry people. MOST of whom are either on Medicare, taking Social Security or unemployment, all programs from the .......... government!

    April 14, 2010 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  3. Are there no decent politicians left?

    Are there lunatics on the fringe of the right and left? Absolutely. labeling the Tea Party as extremist and dangerous to democracy (as some on the right have) is a play right out of the Hitler/Stalin/Mao playbook.

    It is a sad day when American citizens who have legitimate complaints against the government are dismissed as eveil or lunatics. where was the same standard during the often violent opposition to the previous administration?

    April 14, 2010 07:41 pm at 7:41 pm |
  4. AJ in Florida

    20 to 1 that's a long shot. considering the argument of both sides

    I'll bet the 1 kid gets the win on this one.

    ANY TAKERS?

    April 14, 2010 07:44 pm at 7:44 pm |
  5. Tony

    Where were they when Bush took a surplus and ran up over $8 TRILLION in debt in his 8 years in office? Where were they when he started 2 unfunded illegal wars? The hypocrisy of the Tea Party "movement" is disturbing and utterly distasteful. The only MOVEMENTS they're having are the ones their bowels can't handle.

    April 14, 2010 07:46 pm at 7:46 pm |
  6. Barbie

    I am a loyal supporter of the Democratic Party and support President Obama. I live in Las Vegas, and fully support Senator Reid. However, I do not support the people that are trying to call out the Tea Party Protesters. I think that the Tea Party people are doing a good job of making themselves look very much out of the mainstream. Calling them out only makes Democrats look bad. Let them hang themselves as far as making the Republicans look crazy!!! Do not take us down to their level!!!

    April 14, 2010 07:47 pm at 7:47 pm |
  7. Jamie

    THEY'RE the victims of misinformation? I think they have that backwards.

    April 14, 2010 07:49 pm at 7:49 pm |
  8. phoenix86

    CNN and the rest of the mainstream media continue their attacks to undermine the concerns of average Americans with respect to big government. If the Founders were alive today, CNN and the democrats would be calling them radical un-Americans.

    April 14, 2010 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  9. once upon a horse

    well it's about time!!! I hope more folks get out and show their feelings about what the "tea parties" are really trying to attract. The media has already done it's part focusing in on the racists, the homo-phobics and intolerants. I would love to ask these folks where the heck they were back when Bush was president and running up the tab..all this goverment waste as they call it and spending did NOT start on Jan 20, 2009 and they darn well know it. It's about time they start to answer the real questions about this so-called grass roots movement that has it's own news station that covers it.

    April 14, 2010 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  10. Aspen Professor

    "Tea Party activists cast their cause as a patriotic movement from Americans fearful about the nation's direction during a rally" – – – –

    Have you wondered where these Tea Party fools get the money to buy the signs, move about the country, have their hotel rooms paid for, and their meals paid for?

    Come on media -– reveal the right wing extremists that are paying the way. Is it the skin heads, the nazi party, the Conservative party, some wealthy turkeys from the Fox chennel?

    April 14, 2010 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  11. John

    The Tea Party movement is a collection of rich people trying to keep their overly generous tax cuts given them by George W Bush and the republicans, confused young people that don't know it was the republicans that ruined the middle class and outright unpatriotic racists who still think they are fighting the Civil War.

    Well people, all I can say is get smart, pay your fair share and you rebels – get over it.

    April 14, 2010 07:53 pm at 7:53 pm |
  12. Jim

    "The nation's direction" is as a result of the democratic process called voting, where the majority rules. They were in favor of that concept when the republicans won power but now they oppose the majority of American voters and threaten violence against them and those who they elected. Sounds like armed inserection to me. I don't call that patriotic. I call it treason. The ballot box is the people's weapon in a truly free country.

    April 14, 2010 07:54 pm at 7:54 pm |
  13. Paul

    Sadly CNN survives on this type of hypocritical coverage. Show me the last liberal gathering in which opposing protesters were shown to be calm, collected, and intelligent.

    April 14, 2010 07:55 pm at 7:55 pm |
  14. Donnatella

    Thank god somebody finally countered those ignorant teabaggers, they are out there protesting for wealthy billionaire hedge fund managers that would not even allow them in their front door, they are to stupid to realize it. Today John McCain said we need to attack Iran, somebody please tell me how that is being fiscally responsible, wars cost trillions of dollars why don't the teabaggers ever complain about this. It is government intervention.

    April 14, 2010 07:56 pm at 7:56 pm |
  15. bgaleles

    The Tea Party appears to be followed by under educated and ignorant people. Sarah Palin has acquired the ability to push the buttons that get the required response from people who are scared and angry. This would not be the case if the economy were not in such a bad shape. Rest assured America, Sarah Palin is not one or you, does not identify with you, and is only interested in making money. Her current role does not require her to be held responsible for her actions, her speech and her ability to incite people to uncontrollable anger – just the way she likes it. For those in the Tea Party who truly are about reforming government, wake up, police your own organization and get rid of the crazies who are becoming detrimental to your cause. if you don't distance yourself from them, you become them.

    April 14, 2010 08:01 pm at 8:01 pm |
  16. The GOP wants to take our country backwards

    I am glad there were some critics of the pathetic tea party attending. Tea partiers don't seem to understand the issues. They say it's about the "constitution" and "freedom" and of course everyone loves the constitution and freedom, but that doesn't solve our country's current problems. Sometimes we face hard decisions and difficult choices and the tea party just seems to be out of touch with that and want everything to be their way. The tea party just seems mad that times are hard and aren't we all, but they seem totally ignorant of WHY we are where we are by blaming "big government" and President Obama (who had next to nothing to do with the cause of our problems and had the hard task of having to fix them). They have a totally irrational hatred of President Obama and seem ignorant of the fact that Bush doubled our deficit (at least it never bothered them then). That just makes them seem like a bunch of sore losers.

    April 14, 2010 08:05 pm at 8:05 pm |
  17. one voice

    They are what we call Corporate sheep, they better wake up before the Republicans gain control again and tolally ruin our country once and for all. You are being played!!!

    April 14, 2010 08:06 pm at 8:06 pm |
  18. Nobody Special

    Way to go Naveed Easton!

    Unfortunately, pointing out the Tea Party's hypocrisy of simultaneously calling our President a Communist, a Socialist, a Fascist and a Marxist (among others) probably won't get you very far:

    Those Tea folks….....they are just not that bright, and really have no interest in knowing much about the world outside of their little opaque bubble.

    April 14, 2010 08:06 pm at 8:06 pm |
  19. CEE

    These are the same people who supported Bush and his outrageous spending and now they are pissed, I think they should accept the fact that they lost the election.

    April 14, 2010 08:06 pm at 8:06 pm |
  20. Gil

    I've never seen a more vocal group of sore losers in my life. You lost in November 2007 now shuit up and get over it! Act like adults rather than cry babies!

    April 14, 2010 08:07 pm at 8:07 pm |
  21. Desmond in Canada

    The off-the-rails Tea Party Express should steam full ahead. It is the best news for the Dems!

    April 14, 2010 08:07 pm at 8:07 pm |
  22. If We Can Defeat Him On Healthcare It Will Be His Waterloo

    I heard that there were a least a gazzilion people at the Boston Tea party.

    P.S. That Sarah the Grifter Queen sure is true patriot callling Obama's policies un-American. Like equal pay for equal work and cutting the deficit (It has gone down since Bush – google it, if you don't believe), reducing loose nukes, improving our status in the world, DOW over 11,000 and rising; jobs coming back – all very unAmerican polices -

    April 14, 2010 08:08 pm at 8:08 pm |
  23. Bob O

    You're coverage is so biased toward the very minute anti-tea party contingent (a loud 20 year-old), and really nothing about the everyday folks who show up in an attempt to peacfully get their point across. Pretty weak coverage.

    April 14, 2010 08:11 pm at 8:11 pm |
  24. Jewel

    It's about time some people had the "guts" to stand up to those idiots!

    April 14, 2010 08:11 pm at 8:11 pm |
  25. valwayne

    Obama and the Left Wing Elite will continue to attack and demonize the loyal average working Americans who belong to the Tea Party movement. To do otherwise would be to admit that their arrogant extreme left wing Elitist policies are out of touch with the vast majority of average working Americans!

    April 14, 2010 08:19 pm at 8:19 pm |
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