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Education is a form of patriotism


As the co-organizer of the April 2009 TEA Party held at Riverside Park I feel that I must respond to a mischaracterization of such TEA Parties put forth in last week’s letter to the editor from Tammy Miller of St. Ignatius.

In the letter, Ms. Miller quotes Travis McAdam, executive director of the Montana Human Rights Network, as saying: “From white supremacists to Tea Parties, we are seeing a surge in right-wing activism geared towards mobilizing fear and resentment in Montana.” While I agree that we are seeing a surge in "right-wing activism" not only locally, but all around the country, I do not agree that such demonstrations are “geared towards mobilizing fear and resentment in Montana,” or anywhere else for that matter.

The goal of the Polson TEA Party in 2009 was to peacefully protest over-burdensome taxes and the alarming increase in government spending that will necessitate even further increased taxes. The nonpartisan movement has also included other issues such as anti-big-government (not anti-government) and a return to the constitution as it was intended by the Founding Fathers (not as overturned and twisted by judicial decisions).

I also agree with Mr. McAdam when he stated, “It’s important that Montanans understand what is going on in their communities” and that understanding the framework of what is going on in their community by learning “where much of the rhetoric is coming from and why people need to respond” is very important; which is why I would like to point out that using the notion of white supremacists in the same sentence as Tea Parties is a poor attempt at try to foster the suspicion of one group’s negative connotation upon another, when in reality there is no association at all.

I also believe the label of “right wing-extremist” has been set upon the TEA party goers erroneously and undeservedly to again assail one group (Tea Party) with the false notion of another (terrorist).

Almost 300 concerned citizens attended the Taxed Enough Already event in Polson last year. They are your friends, your neighbors and your fellow citizens of the valley. They have concerns and they deserve the right to peacefully assemble and be heard, and you do as well.

Mr. McAdam was wisely quoted last week as saying, “Montana communities should not be fooled again,” and the best way to not be fooled is to educate yourself. Education is one of the greatest forms of patriotism. There are many local groups, events, and forums you can attend to educate yourselves, no matter what side of the issue you are on.

But I recommend you listen carefully to the rhetoric, use your common sense, and respond appropriately according to your own interpretation. 

Annette Schiele

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