Tea parties just aren't what they used to be

Posted: Sunday, April 19, 2009

"God, Gold and Guns - TheIngredients of Freedom"

- Sign carried at the Haines Tax Day Tea Party

On tax day, April 15, echoes of what came to be known as the Boston Tea Party were clearly heard on the cruise ship dock of Haines. Under a partly sunny sky, dozens turned out for the Tax Day Tea Party, an event that sounded a bugle charge for outraged citizens wanting their country back.

It's no fluke that event-held on the same day in about eight towns and cities throughout Alaska, and in concert with a multitude of locales Outside - garnered so much interest. Signs carried by Haines residents said it succinctly: "TEA-Taxed Enraged American" and "The Solution for 2009 is 1776".

Righteous anger was quite evident, in direct opposition to the insipid "go along to get along" mentality common in more refined locales. These folks were gut sick of being put upon, overtaxed and stripped of personal freedoms by the very people supposed to represent them in Washington, D.C. The laughingly named "stimulus package" was only one of many gripes. Issues ranged from oppressive taxation to continuous federal assaults on the Second Amendment to the illegal alien influx. For the people gathered on the dock, more government intervention only compounded an already desperate situation. In true town hall style, everyone was given a chance to air grievances.

In a very real way, the Tea Party at Haines was a shard, the smallest sliver of a cultural mirror. If the numbers of these "anti-government, anti-CNN" protesters (as they were contemptuously called by CNN reporter Susan Roesgen) are any indication, people are fed up. The photos, the videos, the signs carried in these gatherings speak for themselves.

These plain-talking, simple working folks are weary of being robbed in the name of "representative taxation", and of being labeled "whack jobs" for believing in the country's foundational principles. They are incensed at having their Bibles and their God routinely derided. They have had it with being lumped in with racists, troublemakers and wild-eyed conspiracy theorists; of being lambasted by media icons who haven't the faintest idea of impartial journalism; and of being told by their self-appointed betters to sit down and shut up because they aren't adult enough to know what's good for them.

Roesgen may believe the Tea Parties are "not really family viewing", but the traditional family was heartily represented in the nationwide event. One need not wonder how today's "correspondents" would report on the secret meeting of the First Continental Congress back in 1774.

"Right-wing extremists" comes to mind, plotting "domestic terrorism." Well, I suppose they did pen some pretty inflammatory stuff. After a reading of Bible verses from the books of Hosea and Daniel, Haines Tea Party organizer Ralph Vigilante (a wonderfully appropriate name) read aloud the Declaration of Independence in its entirety. The crowd listened in grim silence, aware of the sobering parallels to our own society. History indeed repeats itself. In the symbolic finale, participants poured brewed tea into the harbor.

The Haines gathering made clear that the sentiments expressed were not ramblings, nor were they froth-at-the-mouth rants. They were based upon considered observation, critical research and a desire to know the unvarnished truth. Given voice that day was a collective heart being broken "by repeated injuries and usurpations," a grieving for the freedoms that have been bartered away by those entrusted with the America of both our forefathers and our posterity.

What all this portends for Alaska depends on the momentum that either snowballs or turns to mush. With the recent state resolution declaring sovereignty, the formation and subsequent branching out of grassroots organizations such as the Fairbanks Second Amendment Taskforce, and now with the advent of the Tea Party phenomenon, the possibilities are running strong for reestablishing an atmosphere of genuine constitutional liberty.

We stand at a crossroads. The choice is before us, and there's no dodging it. It'll be a rough ride no matter which fork we take. But we've got to decide if God-given liberty is worth it, or if we'll choose to degenerate into that rampant state of internal decay that eventually consumes all complacent civilizations.

God bless the real America.

• Kevin Reeves is a freelance writer living in Haines.

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