No, not because they represent a large portion of the voting public.
No, not because they're all racists or they're all this or all that.
The St. Louis Tea Party is dangerous because their leadership is willing to lie, smear, attack, distort, persecute, and destroy people in order to get their way. And not only that, but our ridiculously under-informed St. Louis media is happy to help them do it.
The St. Louis Tea Party has been freaking out lately alleging that a teacher at Francis Howell High School was "indoctrinating" her students by asking them to watch Michael Moore's movie "Sicko" as part of their literature class and had previously called a conservative student a "teabagger." The story originated on Bob McCarty's blog, who highlighted the fact that the incident could "lead to termination" of the teacher and then spread to Dana Loesch's radio show, Andrew Breitbart's Big Government, KMOX's Mark Reardon, and finally was mindlessly passed along by KSDK.
Some background on Bob McCarty, which will be relevant. McCarty was the originator of the video back in November that claimed that "union thugs" had attacked a "patriot" at the weekly K & N rally in St. Charles County. The story spread across the St. Louis Tea Party blogosphere. But in fact it turned out that this "patriot" had actually grabbed a female union member by the throat and thrown her to the ground and was arrested on the site. In other words, McCarty's video was a clear distortion of the truth that attempted to cover up violence from a tea partier and then blame it on unions. Furthermore, McCarty appears to openly entertain the absurd conspiracy theory that the Oklahoma City bombings were actually orchestrated by an Iraqi. Here's the quote McCary highlighted for his story:
there is absolutely no question that those tapes existed and, if those tapes ever came forward, they would show conclusively that there was an Iraqi connection to the bombing."So yeah, that's the guy who started this whole story and was given a platform to share it on Big Government and in the local media. And it will come as no surprise whatsoever that the story is ultimately a complete fabrication.
First of all, none of the tea party reports mentioned that this particular assignment was specifically for the purpose of evaluating how Michael Moore was trying to persuade the audience. The assignment was to evaluate the ethos, logos, and pathos in the movie. In other words, the assignment was designed to get the students to think critically about how movies can attempt to persuade them, which is the exact opposite of trying to push a particular point of view. If you are analyzing how someone is using techniques to try to make you believe something, you're less likely to be susceptible to those techniques. But the tea party instead only said that the movie was being shown as part of a "great literature class," implying that the teacher was conveying the message that this was a work equivalent to "a great piece of literature."
Second, the video McCarty used of his interview was intensely edited. He cut scenes multiple times just to get the basic premise out, and in fact used four different edited cuts of the student talking in order to create his narrative. This is very similar to the video McCarty used to claim that "union thugs" had attacked back in October, where he used frequent cuts and clips to create a completely false story. I would not be surprised at all if the student actually told a much more nuanced story to McCarty and he edited it to suit his agenda.
Finally, and most importantly, the claim the the student was called "a teabagger" appears to be completely false. As was reported by students from the class on the Team Blessman facebook site set up to defend the teacher:
But a classroom full of students were able to tell the principle that [the student] wasn't called a teabagger and simply twisted the situation. So to the school board, I'm pretty positive that about 20 kids saying what happened is going to overpower [the student's] little fairytale.This was confirmed by multiple students from the class.
In other words, this whole controversy, which the tea party used to suggest that a beloved teacher should be FIRED, was completely manufactured. The teacher did not call the student a "teabagger." She showed the movie Sicko in order to get students to think critically about how the movie tried to use rhetoric to persuade them, not to convince them that there's something wrong with the American health care system. The tea party was willing to go out of their way to DESTROY a person's life in order to further perpetuate their conservative victimhood complex and to intimidate other people from being able to even discuss liberal ideas or works of art in classrooms.
None of the tea party people knew the teacher Mrs. Blessman. But they assumed she was a liberal and so they were happy to try to destroy her. In fact, they ultimately probably didn't even care that much if she was really a liberal because they are willing to do anything to perpetuate the story that conservatives are being discriminated against. They do this to make people sympathetic to their cause. They do this to provide cover for their own nasty behavior. And in many cases they do this to promote their own careers.
And ultimately, not only do they not care at all about destroying the teacher's life, they really don't even care about the student. Don't believe me? Check out these updates from McCarty's blog:
*EDITOR’S NOTE: Those who have accused [the student] of trying to milk this issue for media attention could not be more wrong. When it came to the story I published May 17, I contacted her; she didn’t contact me. Furthermore, I know for a fact she has turned down numerous media requests, including an appearance tomorrow night on Fox News Channel’s Hannity, an interview over the weekend with CNN and an interview with Mark Reardon on St Louis’ KMOX radio this afternoon. How do I know? Because many of those requests were made through me by representatives of the media outlets who had read my article about [the student].And later:
At the [family's] request, this is the last post I’ll be publishing about the issues at Howell High School related to the “Sicko” assignment, etc.In other words, McCarty and the tea party were the ones pushing this story, even when the student wasn't interested in pushing it.
One final thought: it's not surprising at all that McCarty and Loesch would spread this misinformation; after all, that's what their careers are based on. However, it's absolutely pathetic that KSDK would pass on this story with no fact-checking or critical thinking or knowing anything about McCarty. KSDK participated in an attempt to destroy a local high school teacher's reputation. There is no excuse for that.
So in the end the reason the tea party is dangerous is that even as a relatively small part of the population they're able to terrorize teachers and whoever else stands in their way if they perceive those people as not sufficiently conservative. And they know how to use their connections in the local lazy media to perpetuate stories no matter how absurd or how disgraceful. Imagine what it would be like if the tea partiers actually were in control of some part of the government. What kind of witch hunts would they go on? How would they react to people who don't share their extreme ideology? They already justify everything they do now by pretending "well, that's what the liberals do." So given that they think that evil liberals are constantly victimizing them, is there any doubt that they would be willing to use their power to persecute those they disagree with?