Monday, October 11, 2010

Emma Ruby-Sachs: The Tea Party Are Just Bullies

Emma Ruby-Sachs: The Tea Party Are Just Bullies

The Tea Party refrain, "Take Back America" has been widely associated with an anti-immigration sentiment, homophobia and racism. Its popularity, however, is only growing. With the recent upsets in a number of Republican primaries, the bullying tactics of the Tea Party are garnering increased attention from both established American political parties and independent voters looking for a place to land.

The natural draw we feel towards the powerful, the bully, the one who chooses the scapegoat and acts against them, is an instinct cultivated when young. Because John Doe -- tea party protestor -- heard the unpopular kid in his class called a fa**ot right before he was beat up on his way home from school, he hurls the same slur at Barney Frank in his anger over illegal immigration and taxation for social programs. It is not surprising that Mr. Doe also feels more comfortable with and more supportive of a candidate who turns on gays in the lead up to a heated gubernatorial election battle.

The similarities between Paladino's political posturing and school yard bullying cannot be ignored.

Valerie Jarrett recently addressed a crowd of HRC supporters and emphasized the White House's commitment to ending homophobic bullying in America's schools. Still, many schools have an outright ban on discussions about bullying aimed at gay kids in particular. If we are going to change the direction of American politics, we need to start by teaching the younger generation a new way of interacting -- one not predicated on social hierarchy and power plays. We need to address the prevalence of homophobia in our schools. We need to undermine the bully where he or she is born.

Paladino will likely remain a bully for the rest of his life. The Tea Party will continue to recruit bullies and those attracted to that kind of power play.

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