A few days ago, a group of some 18 mostly senior citizens gathered in a community park in our little Oregon town of Roseburg (pop. 21,500). It’s very safe to say these people represented a distinct minority around here – politically speaking.
They were out on a sunny afternoon to sit at picnic tables, chat with each other, talk of the need for peace and discuss current events. If there was a loose political connection it was they associated themselves with MoveOn.org though most, if pressed, couldn’t really describe the national liberal organization or how it operates.
Within a few minutes, about 35 people showed up. Some in camouflage clothing, mostly male, waving “Don’t Tread On Me” and American flags. They carried signs reading “No to socialism in America,” “Communists,” “Marxists” and “Socialists.” They confronted the seniors chatting at the picnic tables while one of their number captured the “action” on video.
The interlopers claimed to represent the Tea Party and something called “Douglas County Americans For Prosperity.” A guy named Rich Raynor did most of the talking. They taunted the surprised seniors, calling them “Communists” and “Marxists.”
When it was apparent the newcomers wouldn’t stop, the seniors adjourned to the home of one of their number. As they prepared to leave, the harassing continued. “Take your Marxist agenda with you,” one of the taunters says on the video.
The so-called MoveOn group went to the home of Dean and Sara Byers who live at the end of a long private lane. The pursuers tried to follow but, when challenged, they decided to put up a blockade at the end of the drive. And there they sat for over an hour.
Raynor says if this these seniors try to meet again, his cohorts will show up to make the public aware of their “communist front” because he “can’t stand for America becoming a fascist nation.” He says the fact they stopped the meeting and went somewhere else “proves they have something to hide.” It’s not our fault we outnumbered them,” Rayner said. “The philosophy they espouse is not live-and-let-live. I fear for my children.”
When I consider Mr. Raynor and his ilk, I, too, am concerned for my descendants!
To say these mouthy thugs represent whatever “grassroots” believers may be left of the Tea Party in any American community would be wrong. Some of the innocents may still be caught up in that fraud. But these Oregon hypocrites represent only themselves. And they do so at their own embarrassment.
The most amazing and troubling contradiction these people engage in is, while wrapping themselves in the Constitution as the “Holy Grail,” their conduct ignores its protection while they espouse how they want to ignore or change the rights it guarantees. Denying others their protected rights of assembly and free speech while practicing their own is exhibit number one.
Our little corner of Oregon claims to be overwhelmingly conservative. And it is. But what these simple-minded folks did is not “conservative” any more than some seniors having a pleasant gathering in a park is “liberal.” Much less “Marxist.” With their idiotic signs and child-like taunting, they broke several laws and denied constitutionally guaranteed rights of others who were breaking none. Then, in a moment of lunacy, they posted their lawbreaking activity on the Internet with flags waving. By their own hand, these people have offered ample legal evidence of harassment.
Alone, these social outcasts have always been with us. Now, with the umbilical of the Internet, they seem to be more in number. Maybe they are. But it also may be the few have simply discovered a way to connect; a way to pass their twisted, hateful and most often false vitriol from one to the other in a closed world they’ve created in which they feel safe and protected.
If one or more of those Roseburg seniors has the financial ability to do so – or wants to collect a few dollars from the rest of us – I’d like to see court action brought against these jerks. Maybe a few thousand bucks from their collective pockets would inflict a little deserved pain.
I don’t know if this sort of thing is happening elsewhere. But it is here in my backyard. It’s a cancer seen too much recently. Maybe a little public light radiating on this growth will eradicate it. But I wouldn’t count on it.