Acts of protest tend to be synonymous with the left and are usually considered unsurprising on the right. However, when conservatives demonstrate – liberals take notice in a big way.
On Fox News Channel’s April 7 “Your World,” host Neil Cavuto reported that the Tax Day tea party protests on April 15 will be “infiltrated” by their political opponents and led by left-wing activist organizations. He specifically named Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN).
“Only eight days before a nationwide tea party, some over-caffeinated crashers aiming to lay waste to it,” Cavuto said. “Reports of very well-organized infiltrators trying to mix in and rain on this parade. Talk about taxing.”
One organizer, Mark Meckler of the Sacramento Tea Party, dismissed the counter efforts and said they were to be expected.
“We don’t take them seriously at all, and I’ll tell you why,” “It’s not that they don’t exist – we expect people to attempt to infiltrate,” Meckler said. “We expect people to attempt to disturb what we are doing, but the reality is that this is a very broad-based grassroots movement. There is no leader at the top. There is no individual event that they can disturb that would cause us a problem nationwide.”
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Meckler explained that everyone was invited – even if they come to promote a philosophy that runs counter to what the tea party movement is attempting to convey.
“So also, the people – we trust the grassroots,” Meckler continued. “We know, the people are skeptical of anyone approaching at these events, and we believe that people are going to handle it well. And in fact, we invite everybody to come to our events. We don’t care if they are from ACORN, The Huffington Post or the Daily Kos. We want them all there. We’re excited to have them attend.”
In fact, The Huffington Post has even set up a Web site for so-called citizen journalists to infiltrate the protests.
“The Huffington Post wants to have citizen journalists at as many of these events as possible,” Arthur Delaney wrote for The Huffington Post on April 7. “If you think you’d be interested in attending one of the Tea Parties and reporting back to us with dispatches, photos, or video, click here to sign up. We’ll contact you shortly with further instructions.”
If you sign-up, you receive an automated message from Matthew Palevsky, the Huffington Post’s associate editor of citizen journalism.
“Thanks for becoming a Tea Party Reporter,” the e-mail from Palevsky says. “This e-mail is just a quick confirmation that we have received your contact info and will email you our plans during the coming week. In the meantime, we’d love to hear your thoughts. Whether they be questions, suggestions or story ideas, share them with us at submissions+ideas@ huffingtonpost.com.”
John O’Hara, organizer of the Chicago Tea Party said he wasn’t worried either about these sorts of efforts and specifically named ACORN, calling them out of touch with mainstream America.
“Neil, I’m not worried about it at all,” O’Hara said. “This is a genuine grassroots movement. If ACORN wants to send some of their paid, pretend activists to show up – that’s fine. They don’t have a message that resonates with the American people or resonates with this broad coalition that’s upset with this spending that’s going on in Washington.”
Cavuto explained the early reports of the “so-called infiltration plan” were an attempt to make it look like fringe-group efforts and in some case appears as a “racist undertaking.”
“The people understand what these movements are about,” Meckler said. “The people who are involved understand that they’re not racist. They are not fringe. They’re not even partisan. I mean, these are events where we have people across the board – Democrats, Republicans, conservatives, liberals, Libertarians – you name it.”