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Thu., April 15, 2010, midnight

Editorial: Tea party crashing has big backfire potential

As tea partiers rally outside the Spokane Convention Center this afternoon, there might be puerile pretenders in their midst hoping to spread embarrassment to the movement.

Jason Levin, an Oregon technology consultant, has formed Crash The Tea Party. The idea is to dress in crazy costumes, carry crazy signs and utter crazy comments in the hopes that onlookers and the media mistake the pranksters for the real supporters.

It is, in a word, crazy.

Why are they doing this? Their Web site says it is to expose “the loose affiliation of racists, homophobes and morons who constitute the fake grass-roots movement.”

And how will they do it?

“Whenever possible, we will act on behalf of the Tea Party in ways which exaggerate their least appealing qualities (misspelled protest signs, wild claims in TV interviews, etc.)”

This gives new meaning to juvenile justice.

“Our goal is that whenever a tea partier says, ‘Barack Obama was not born in America,’ we’re going be right there next to them saying, ‘Yeah, in fact he wasn’t born on Earth! He’s an alien!” Levin proudly explained to the liberal blog Talking Points Memo.

But if the tea partiers really embody all of the crashers’ insults, why not let them demonstrate it themselves?

It seems that party crashers lack confidence in the ability of the movement to crash on its own. It seems crashers don’t respect the nation’s grand tradition of like-minded people staging rallies to convey their political beliefs. Nor do they trust the American people to listen to the true message and decide for themselves.

Levin may think he’s hit on a brilliant plan, but it’s really no different than shouting people down or other indefensible strategies to stifle opposing viewpoints.

Levin says he has 66 groups around the country. Whether his pranksters will show up in Spokane is unknown. He seems oblivious to the easy explanation he is handing genuine tea partiers for possible behavior and comments that are questionable. Thanks to Levin, it will be easy to pin the blame on infiltrators.

In fact, tea partiers have already claimed that fake members are responsible for past egregious comments and acts.

If crashers truly believe in their characterization of tea partiers, they need only show up and watch. If they disagree with the message, they can honestly debate it. But infiltration and exaggeration reveal insecurity and immaturity.

They may think their ruse is clever, but the joke could very well be on them.

The Spokesman-Review Editorial Board

Members of The Spokesman-Review editorial board help to determine The Spokesman-Review's position on issues of interest to the Inland Northwest. Board members are:

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