The San Antonio Tea Party
By John D. Turner
16 Apr 2009

It was a sunny day with some high-level fleecy clouds. The grass surrounding the Alamo, the cradle of Texas liberty, was green; the shade under the trees cool and inviting. Alamo square in front was bustling with activity, with the spirit of Texas liberty once again on display.

There was no smell of gunpowder; no battlefield strewn about with the bodies of the fallen. But all around the area there were flags waving; Texas flags, Texas Revolutionary War flags, American Revolutionary War flags, American flags. And signs everywhere; signs carried by thousands of common citizens. Hand drawn signs. Signs protesting the rise of big government, and protesting what many see as the destruction of the America they grew up in.

There were old people, young people, and people in between. There were children and grandparents. The signs spoke of their disquiet, their anger, and their disgust with the direction our political leadership is taking the country. Yet the crowds were friendly. I witnessed no random acts of destruction, no altercations, no cars were burned or buildings looted. There was no foul language (well, Ted Nugent did say hell and damn a few times; and the word “ass” was used once as I recall-pretty light fare these days).

People were talking to people. It felt like a large block party, but with a patriotic bent. Very large.

I first became aware of the San Antonio Tea Party on the Glenn Beck show. At that time, the organizers were expecting a few hundred people in attendance. Then Glenn announced that he was going to attend one of the tea parties, and broadcast his show live from that venue. And furthermore, that he was going to San Antonio, because he couldn’t imagine being anywhere for a tax day tea party than in front of the Alamo.

The organizer’s website estimate quickly jumped to 5000 people.

The day before the party, I checked again. The estimate was up to 10,000 at that time. The final police estimate of the crowd, broadcast at the event, was that over 16,000 were in attendance.

It was great. Local radio hosts Joe Pags and Adam McManus broadcast their radio shows from the location. Ted Nugent was there, and gave a heck of a speech during the actual tea party itself, and of course, Glenn Beck. (Ted Nugent had a good deal to say on Glenn’s show as well.)

The tea party itself was great. There were numerous speakers, mostly local, none of whom were elected politicians. All gave timely and informative talks. Ms. Julia Hayden gave an inspiring talk entitled “The Alamo: A Line in the Sand”, which brought to life the events that occurred on that hallowed ground, and the very ground beneath our feet on that day 163 years ago.

Ms Katharine Moreno, an immigrant from Columbia, gave a stirring talk entitled “An Immigrant’s Story”; why people come to America and why America is great. Few have the perspective of someone who has been elsewhere; those of us born here frequently take what we have for granted.

Edward Jaax enumerated to us exactly what “The Duty of a Citizen” of this country is, how far we as collective citizens of America fall short of these simple duties, and how now, more than this will be required to recover what we have lost, or in the process of losing.

Terri Hall, in “Texas for Sale”, told us exactly what is going on in Austin vis-à-vis the “Trans-Texas corridor” (and the new moniker they have hung on it) and how it will affect us and our future. It’s not dead folks. She also informed us of other taxes which have been enacted this session or which are going to be enacted; lots of taxes which will affect the wallets of everyone. They may not have enacted an income tax in Austin, but they certainly seem to have a lot of other things to tax.

There were other talks as well, equally good and rousing. And to cap off the evening, Steve Vaus sang his latest song, We Must Take America Back”. You need to hear this song and pass it along. It is available on YouTube with Steve’s blessing at no charge.

The media was present. Glenn’s show, of course, was broadcast on Fox. There were news helicopters overhead on a fairly constant basis. I know that at least the local ABC affiliate, KSAT-12 was there, because they interviewed my wife. So what did they have to say?

Not much, and nationally, not much positive that I could find. This morning, I listened to the radio on the way into work. The local Fox affiliate mentioned the San Antonio tea party, one of the largest if not the largest in the country, at the very end of the local news. After the story about the police catching three thieves who tried to rob a local poker party at someone’s home. They gave it about 15 seconds of coverage. And that was Fox.

CNN, which pretty much ignored the entire tea party story all week, apparently gave it short shrift as well. After all, only right-wing nut jobs would go to something like that. Click here to view an example of CNN’s “unbiased coverage” of a tea party in Chicago. The “reporter”, Susan Roesgen, was beside herself with anger at the temerity of protesters criticizing “her” president. Her closing remarks to her audience? “I think you get the general tenor of this. Its anti-government, anti-CNN since this is highly promoted by the right-wing conservative network Fox.”

She obviously didn’t get it, didn’t want to get it, and probably never will get it. However, it shouldn’t matter whether she gets it or not. She is a reporter; she is supposed to report the news, not make the news, comment on the news, debate the people she is interviewing, be putting them down, or making disparaging remarks about them on the air. But then, that would assume she is a professional, which clearly she is not.

One particular problem she had was with a protester that labeled Barack Obama a fascist, a proposition she clearly disagreed with. Funny, I didn’t see her defending President Bush with such fervor; quite the opposite. Just another example of how the media is in the tank for Obama.

One might think that such an unprofessional display would put her at odds with CNN, which purports to be a news organization. One would be sadly mistaken. On the contrary, the official CNN response about her comments from Christa Robinson, a CNN spokesperson was that “she was doing her job, and called it like she saw it.”

Thus, CNN officially joins the ranks of news commentary vice news reporting, along with MSNBC and the likes of Chris Mathews, who gets thrills up his leg every time Mr. Obama utters a sentence.

But it gets better. Following up on a Department of Homeland Security report made public earlier this week, the Maryland National Guard issued a Force Protection advisory (FPCON Advisory 09-004) to its units. This FP Advisory was issued not as an alert to potential al’Quaida or other foreign terrorist elements that might be active and using the tax day tea parties as cover. Oh no. Our focus has shifted, you see.

Remember, we are no longer fighting the “Global War on Terror”, which was, no doubt, a bad name to start with. Rather now we are engaged in “overseas contingency operations”, which could mean anything from fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan to delivering relief supplies to earthquake victims. An even worse name in my opinion, as it really doesn’t say anything.

So who were the targets of this FPCON Advisory?

American citizens. Apparently the author thought that even though there was no known direct threat to Maryland National Guard facilities or members, they might become a target of opportunity during planned protest activities throughout Maryland.

And how did some nameless Lt Col (whose name was redacted) come to this brilliant leap of logic? Well, it was based on the DHS bulletin released earlier.

This despite the fact that a large number of the people attending the tea parties (at least based on my observation at our tea party here) were prior military service members who have served their country honorably. This despite the fact that some attendees are currently in the Guard or Reserve; indeed, I suspect that some are currently on active duty in the regular armed forces as well, exercising their rights as citizens to peaceably assemble.

I can’t speak for the Chicago tea party, obviously, but ours was definitely non-partisan and pro-Constitution. We didn’t just have a bone to pick with Democrats, but with Republicans as well.

And the military, as most members past and present are keenly aware, do not take an oath to the government of the United States, the President of the United States, or the Congress of the United States. The military oath is to “uphold the CONSTITUTION of the United States, against all enemies, foreign and domestic.”

I guess it can’t hurt to be prepared. But it hurts to think that a member of the Armed Forces could see this as something other than what it was, and perceive a threat from American citizens peaceably exercising their constitutional rights in support of the Constitution.

One thing I didn’t see was any counter protests. Speculation that ACORN would show up to try and disrupt things turned out, at least in our case, to be unfounded. If there were any ACORN or other counter-protests, I would have expected them to be well publicized in the MSM. Such was not the case. I saw nothing of the sort in San Antonio, where I expected such might occur, due to the venue and presence of Mr. Beck.

There seemed to be a tendency for main-stream media papers across the country, particularly left-leaning ones (are there any other kind), to misconstrue and misrepresent those exercising their constitutional right to protest.

The Los Angeles Times, for example, described their event as an anti-Obama Republican rally in one article, and the participants as “steeped in insanity” in another. They insisted in stating that the protests were about income tax increases, when they were in the main about out of control spending and the apparent giant leap toward socialism and fascism. They spent a whole article standing up the straw man that Obama has actually lowered income taxes, ignoring the hundreds if not thousands of new taxes and “fees” that have been springing up around the country at the state and local level.

All in all, it seems that a lot of time and effort was spent in the press in pre-emptive strikes and post-event damage control to paint those concerned citizens around the country who showed up for the rallies as a bunch of kooks. And it will probably work for them, at least for those who get their news from the three major networks, CNN, and their local, failing newspaper; at least this time around.

Here in San Antonio where I was, it was a great event, even if our media didn’t take much note. This will not be the end of the issue. Another tea party in San Antonio is planned for July 4th. And other events around the nation are in the planning stages as well.

This issue will not go away, and neither will we.

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