Catholic Worker Tea Party

posted by Scott Schaeffer-Duffy on April 22nd, 2010

On Wednesday, April 14, 2010, Ken Hannaford-Ricardi, Julia Skjerli, and Scott Schaeffer-Duffy of the Saints Francis & Therese Catholic Worker in Worcester, Massachusetts went to the Boston Common where a Tea Party rally addressed by Sarah Palin was held. At the edge of a crowd of about 4,000 Tea Party supporters, the Catholic Workers held signs and distributed almost 500 leaflets. Ken held a sign which read, “A Tea Party the US Needs Now.” It depicted colonists throwing boxes labeled “WAR” into Boston Harbor. Julia held a sign which read, “Cut Government Spending, End the Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan Now.” Scott wore a tri-corner hat and colonial garb. He rang a bell and quoted James Madison and Patrick Henry on the evils of a standing army.

Their leaflet is reprinted below:

Cut the Most Wasteful Government Spending!

Since 2002, one portion of federal spending has grown from $329 billion to $663.7 billion with little oversight, no appreciable benefit to US citizens, and a great deal of harm to the rest of the world. That wasteful spending went to the Pentagon. The US now spends more than the next 40 highest spending countries combined, ten times more than Russia and 98 times more than Iran. The US military consumes more than $13,000 every second, much of that on unpopular and fruitless wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, where thousands of American soldiers and hundreds of thousands of civilians have been killed.

Meanwhile, the Central Intelligence Agency reports that the United States has the 44th worst infant mortality rate and 45th worst life expectancy rate. US News and World Report says that the US is 16th in college education. Growing numbers of Americans cannot meet their basic needs.

As members of the Catholic Worker movement, whose 150 houses of hospitality shelter and feed the homeless (without tax exemption or government aid) we call upon the Tea Party movement to join in calling for an immediate end to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, followed by massive cuts in military spending. Then taxes can be cut and education and healthcare restored.

Many of the Tea Party participants stopped to talk with the Catholic Workers. Some were open to their call for disarmament, while others expressed support for the military and the wars. One called the Catholic Workers “trouble makers.” Most took the leaflets without comment from the colonial-costumed Schaeffer-Duffy.

Many Tea Party participants held signs. One read, “This small business woman is pissed. I pay $ while Congress plays.” Another quoted Thomas Jefferson, “When injustice becomes law, Resistance becomes Duty.” One read, “Obama care makes me sick!”

About 200 Tea Party critics came in groups or as individuals. One person held a sign which read, “Dump Sarah Palin in Boston Harbor.” Another sign said, “The Tea Party is Racist.” Three college students, dressed in Harry Potter Quiditch uniforms, held a sign reading, “Palin/Voldemort.” One person held a sign which read, “Obama Unites, Palin Divides.” A group of Black and Latino union members marched and chanted, “Racist, sexist, anti-gay. Tea Party bigots go away” A group of religious people stood in silence with banners proclaiming love and tolerance for gay marriage and immigrant rights. Another group dressed as characters from Alice in Wonderland holding their own tea party. The Queen of Hearts held a sign which read, “Not playing with a full deck.”

A thoughtful bystander commented about how little the Tea Party crowd seemed to know about the actual ideas of colonial patriots. He said, “Symbols are up for grabs today.” He also said that one could not ignore the economic and political frustration which many of the attendees experienced. He worried that their concerns were being manipulated by right-wing political opportunists. He felt that presence of many signs and buttons accusing President Obama of being a socialist were indicative of the group’s confusion.

Sarah Palin addressed the cheering crowd for about 30 minutes and did her best to stoke their anger and win their support, while GOP leaders from Massachusetts, including Senator Scott Brown and GOP gubernatorial hopeful Charles Baker did not attend the rally.

A photo of Ken, Scott, and Julia on the Common appeared in the April 20, 2010 Boston Globe.

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One Comment Leave a comment.

  1. On May 2, 2010 at 21:07 Recks said:

    It is hard to discount the gut feeling, from reading this that the TP is simply organized as another astroturf supported, behind the scenes, by the GOP. Exploiting confusion? You bet it is the MO of government today, in my opinion. Nice piece.

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