By Ed Holliday and Grant Sowell
Many citizens of Northeast Mississippi were stunned by the obnoxious implication of the cartoon in the editorial section found in the Wednesday edition of the Daily Journal. The cartoon depicted a goofy white male with an exaggerated under-bite who was being told by a white female he would be a “superb” right-wing conservative once he learned to “spit, yell ‘baby killer’ and the ‘n’ word, use homophobic slurs and wave crude signs.”
The cartoon crudely and purposely implied all conservatives to be something that over 99 percent are not and will not be. In fact the next day a poll was run by the Tupelo Tea Party to gauge if its members felt that these disgusting values represented the bulk of the people in the conservative movement. The poll returned 230 responses as “no” and not surprisingly the one and only “yes” vote came from someone who works in the media and is not an active tea partier.
As conservatives we believe in free speech and realize that a paper can print what it wants, but we also believe that with that right comes a responsibility to be truthful and not to blatantly smear an entire people group. The cartoon did not seem funny even from a liberal’s point of view. It was solely intended to stereotype, caricature, and demean the conservatives of today. The cartoon was syndicated, but to choose to place such a mean spirited jibe in a paper dedicated to God and mankind was an insult to many in Northeast Mississippi.
The incidents mentioned in the cartoon were from events this past weekend leading up to the vote on the health care bill. Out of thousands of protesters this past week in Washington the press zeroed in on events that would be disgusting and very inappropriate if they did indeed happen. We have a good friend who happens to be an African-American who was protesting against the health care bill and was actually standing exactly where the congressmen supposedly heard the “n” word, but he reported to us that he heard no such word said. In the national debate we do want everyone to understand that some people from the far left will actually stoop to doing undignified actions to make conservative protesters look to be what they are not.
In fact, many of the Tea Party protesters are new to protesting – including us. Many are grandmothers and grandfathers who care deeply about their country and the direction it is taking their grandchildren.
The two of us (as are many conservatives) are active in racial reconciliation and reaching out to those with same-sex attractions with the love of Christ. Grant has counseled those in the “lifestyle” and Ed works in a ministry in Tupelo that meets weekly for those who have unwanted same-sex attractions. We do not, and I repeat, we do not use or condone the use of the “n” word or homophobic slurs.
Not all conservatives are Christians, but many Christians are conservative and for this reason many of us have been active in the Tea Party movement. There is a growing number of African-Americans joining the Tea Party movement. We encourage everyone to come and experience what a Tea Party is on Saturday, April 3 at Tupelo’s City Hall at 3:30 p.m. The famous Tea Party Express III will be rolling into town.
For those who want to paint the Tea Party folks as racist, please come out and see some of the best young African-Americans in our country today who will be speaking. Every candidate running for the 1st Congressional District race has been invited to speak.
The actions of one bad apple should never be used to stereotype an entire movement, and we are grateful that the Daily Journal has provided this opportunity to let all the conservatives who were offended to know that they were not alone. We invite all conservatives, moderates, liberals and people of all skin colors and religions to come and see what a Tea Party is like on April 3. Don’t let one person’s cartoon give you a false impression of what it means to be a conservative.
Grant Sowell is a business owner, pastor and a Tupelo Tea Party organizer. He can be reached firstname.lastname@example.org. Ed Holliday is a Tupelo dentist, author and a frequent Tea Party speaker. He can be reached at email@example.com.