My 21-year-old daughter attends a small public university in western PA (a very conservative area of the state). The College Republicans, along with local townspeople, held a Tea Party rally in front of the courthouse. My daughter and her friend joined the College Democrats in a counter-protest. This story is posted with her permission.
I crashed the Tea Party rally an hour late because I was feeling sick. Fortunately, Annie came to pick me up while I was making signs. Mine said, "Tea Party? More like WHITE WHINE!", and hers said, "You'll thank me for healthcare later!" She also wore a shirt that said, "Two moms are better than none!"
I met another protester there named Brianne who was carrying a sign that said, "Healthcare is a human right," and we had an excellent conversation after the event.
The rally was much worse than I expected it to be. Everywhere I turned, there was a different stereotype of a Republican: One guy in a cowboy hat wearing all red-and-white western-style clothes, one guy in a trucker's hat and t-shirt with cut-off sleeves, plenty of old men in suspenders and camo, plenty of khaki & dress-shirt conservative church types. It was pretty embarrassing, actually.
Plenty of creepy guys took my photo without my permission. One guy in a trucker hat came over to harass me. I engaged him politely at first:
Him - "Do you know anything about the history of this country?"
Me - "Plenty, actually. That's why I'm here."
Him - "Where did you learn that history?"
Me - "In the nation's capitol, where I grew up."
Him - "Oho! Well you should have all the answers then!"
After that he started to get really belligerent and angry, yelling questions at me like, "Do you have a job? Have you ever worked a day in your life? Do you think you know anything," etc. and generally being a MASSIVE DICK. I wanted to punch him in the face but decided it was best to just hit the Ignore button. I love engaging people in polite debate and conversation, but once they start turning into assholes, there's no use in trying.
The girl I met at the event -- Brianne -- was being harassed by three men all at once. I compare it -- in a purposefully exaggerated way -- to a gang rape of words. All of them trying to put her in her place at once, exerting their superiority over her. It was disgusting. These old white men, they know exactly what kind of privilege they have in society, and they know how to flaunt it. They are not actually interested in debating or listening. They just want to put you in your place and shame you for stepping out of line.
Whenever they took pictures of me without my permission, I photographed them in the process. The good thing that came out of this was that I got an audio interview with The Clarion Call, a video interview for some guy's Current Events class, and I was photographed by a guy from The Pittsburgh Post Gazette (he was really nice and very informative).
The most disgusting thing I witnessed at this teabagger rally was Peg Luksik, without a doubt. She is a candidate for the US Senate. In her speech, she likened immigrants (not just illegal immigrants) to a MOUSE INFESTATION in her own home. I am not making this up. She was telling a story about a mouse that was discovered in her home, and she said, "Ew, I don't want to kill it, 'cause you know, I'm a mom, but get it out of here!" and likened that sentiment as her overall sentiment of immigrants. She ended her story with a cry to "CLOSE THE BORDERS!"
That is seriously the most hideous racist analogy I have EVER heard. It reminds me of how the Nazis viewed the Jewish population, as not even human, as some sort of infestation. It made me sick to hear this woman speak.
She is also virulently anti-gay (she backs the Marriage Amendment Act), anti-choice ("Life begins at conception!"), pro-war (smatterings of comments akin to soldier hero-worship and lots of talk about how the 2nd Amendment "is the teeth for all other laws!" Again, I am not kidding), and totally intolerant of other religions (multiple references to how GOD THE CREATOR has inspired our laws and the Constitution, among other things).
This event only reaffirms my fears about the Teabaggers and solidifies my disgust.
Update: A note from my daughter (who isn't a member of Daily Kos, though I asked if she wanted to join so she could respond to some of the comments):
In reading the Daily Kos comments, I was worried someone would mention Godwin's Law. I'd never draw any comparisons between American ultra-conservatives/tea partiers to Nazi Germany/Hitler in any way unless there was an instance where I saw a direct parallel. The Nazis did in fact equate Jews to vermin, specifically rats. So, this was one instance in which I thought it was very appropriate to compare Peg Luksik's words to Nazi propaganda sentiments. I do not throw around that comparison lightly.