The Rand Paul Beat Down: Stomping on activists and democracy
A Rand Paul staffer beat down and activist, but Murdoch and Koch brothers are beating down democracy
This week a Rand Paul staff member stomped a progressive activist. The victim was a young woman named Lauren Valle. And the only reason we are talking about it today is because it was caught on tape.
The far right has already started a campaign to vilify the woman, pointing to the fact that she is an activist and was arrested in May for protesting the BP oil spill. What difference does that make? Are they making the argument that exercising free speech should come at the cost of a boot to the head.
The truth is the right wing has been literally whipped into a frenzy and this is not the first act of violence it has perpetrated, and it will not be the last. Here are just a few examples: Violence after the passage of health care reform, the false imprisonment of a journalist, the killing of Doctor George Tiller,the Holocaust Murder. If the folks fueling this violence were not "conservatives" but Islamic, they would certainly be called terrorists.
This woman’s crime?
She tried to give Rand Paul, the tea-party-backed candidate a satirical Employee of the Month Award from "RepubliCorp," a group made up at MoveOn.org meant to highlight the merger of the GOP and corporate interests.
Before she could even reach Paul, his supporters grabbed her, forced her to the ground and literally stomped on her head as she lay helpless on the curb. Though she was not seriously hurt, she was interviewed afterward saying it was premeditated. She heard some of Paul’s supporters prior to being attacked, saying they might have to. It should go without saying that big grown men beating up on a woman half their size is way beyond the pale. It’s way beyond reason. Paul has since shook up his staff -- dismissing the guy who did the beating -- and issuing an apology.
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To Paul’s credit, he has not -- unlike other tea party backed candidates -- done much to stoke the violence. His remarks about how he did not support portions of the U.S. Civil Rights Act were completely random and borderline offensive. But as a candidate, he has not digressed to the degree that other candidates have, such as Sharron Angle and her barrage of anti-Hispanic race-bating ads, etc.
But he has, through his silence and inaction, contributed to this very nasty political climate.
His unwillingness to acknowledge some very racist themes within the movement continue to create the space where attacks like this can and will continue to occur.
A few weeks ago, the NAACP released a report illustrating various close ties between some members of the tea party movement and racist fringe organizations. The Freedom Works Tea Party, 1776 Tea Party, ResistNet Tea Party, Tea Party Nation, Tea Party Patriots and Tea Party Express are the six major tea party organizations.
Through its many positions, literature, emails, newsletters blog posts and tweets, the report claims these tea party organizations have provided platforms for many known racist and anti-semites, like former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke, author Martin “Red” Beckman and Pastor John Weaver. While these three men are not Tea Party leaders, they have spoken and recruited at Tea Party events.
The NAACP also provided polling data of tea party attendees and found that racial animosity permeated its entire membership. For instance, 52 percent of Tea Partyers believe that “too much” has been made of the problems that face blacks. Of those who strongly disagree with the Tea Party, 55 percent agree that blacks are “very hard working,” while only 18 percent of those who strongly approve of the Tea Party think so.
Islamaphobia and anti-Hispanic immigrant sentiments are also rampant within the tea party.
In early August, the tea party issued this email.
“If you have been the victim of a crime by an illegal, or if your business has gone under because your competition uses illegals, or if you have lost your job to illegals, we want to know about it.”
“If you have photos and videos of illegals or their supporters doing outrageous things (like burning the American flag or putting the Mexican flag above ours, or showing racist posters), please share those as well.”
Back when tea party folks yelled racist slurs and spat on U.S. Rep. John Lewis, the tea party as well as Michele Bachmann, effectively called Lewis a liar. They said it never happened. When the NAACP tried to give them the opportunity to address the issue, they retorted back that the NAACP was racist.
It’s not terribly surprising that in these unsure financial times that racial tensions would increase, but the fact that it is being financed by corporate entities is somewhat difficult to swallow. These multi-million-dollar institutions are fueling this resentment. Why? Because they fear they will not received the same tax breaks under a Democratic administration? Because they fear financial reform? Because they don’t like health care reform?
There are three billionaires in specific who are chiefly responsible for financially backing the tea party: There is Rupert Murdock and David and Charles Koch.
Koch Industries began with oil in the 1930s and now also produces an array of industrial products, from Dixie cups to Lycra.
David Koch is also founder of the Americans for Prosperity Foundation, which has worked closely with the Tea Party since the movement’s inception.
The other major sponsor of the Tea Party movement is Dick Armey’s FreedomWorks.
Under its original name, Citizens for a Sound Economy, FreedomWorks received $12 million of its own from Koch family foundations.
Then, of course Murdoch contributes billions more to the movement by in-kind donations of free promotion on Fox News.
So, here we are. And here we are stuck. We are facing what could very well be a take over of our Democracy by a movement of corporate-backed goons. This just two years after this country seemingly was on the verge of changing our future -- First Black President, a new day in Nuclear proliferation, a change of direction in environmental legislation and new regulations for Wall Street. Not exactly a coincidence.