Brent Batten: Naples tea party infiltrator-free

BRENT BATTEN

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They just don’t make infiltrators like they used to.

Walking up and down the ranks of tea party protestors lining U.S. 41 in North Naples on Thursday, you could find scant evidence of the racism, homophobia and general meanness that tea party opponents insist is at the core of the movement and that they hinted they would try to highlight via infiltrators carrying particularly objectionable signs.

If they did, they could do no better than “Stand Up and Speak Out,” “Protect Our Constitution” and “Where’s My Bailout?”

Jason Levin, creator of http://www.crashtheteaparty.org, was quoted by the Associated Press as saying the infiltrators across the country would also try to cast tea party attendees as crazy by making outrageous statements.

“Every time we have someone on camera saying that Barack Obama isn’t an American citizen, we want someone sitting next to him saying, “‘That’s right, he’s an alien from outer space!”’ Levin said.

Again, any infiltrators at the Naples tea party failed. There was the lady strolling through the crowd yelling, “Impeach Obama” at the top of her voice. But it wasn’t the fact that she was wandering around screaming that made her seem mildly deranged, but rather that she was doing so with a white cockatoo on her shoulder.

Unless you’re a movie pirate, being in public with a bird on your shoulder makes you appear slightly unhinged.

There were a couple, and by that I mean two, fellows there to stand against the thousands of tea partiers protesting deficit spending and government overreach, but you could hardly call them infiltrators. John Ure of Naples had staked out a prime spot on the northeast corner of Pine Ridge Road and U.S. 41 with signs that read “Greed kills” and “Real patriots pay taxes.”

Infiltration 101: You don’t carry signs that reveal you’re opposed to the group you’re trying to infiltrate. Still, Tom Gomperts, of Naples, stood next to Ure with a sign reading, “Infiltrator: Not one of us,” with an arrow pointing in Ure’s direction.

“Obviously not,” Ure said when asked if he considered himself an infiltrator. “I’m pretty clearly against what they believe in. I believe in the federal government and I believe in the benefits they give us.”

Gomperts said he was given the sign and asked to stand next to Ure. “Just in case he was going to act up we want people to know he’s not one of us. We’re not an angry mob.”

Further down the road, John Jenkins held a sign, “Racists, bigots and whack jobs welcome.”

“I really believe the tea party is a bunch of whack jobs. Maybe not everyone, but they don’t discourage them from the group. They welcome it.”

Another infiltration gone awry.

The best infiltrators are the people you’d least suspect.

That made Zachary Sullivan, 5, in an oversized Uncle Sam hat, a prime candidate.

Is your, “Flush ObamaCare” sign a subtle attempt to portray tea partiers as a bunch of crude oafs engaging in toilet humor, Zachary?

No, says mom Jennifer Sullivan, daddy’s a doctor and he just doesn’t think much of health-care reform.

Any infiltrators among the crowd Thursday were unable to paint the tea party attendees as hate-filled Neanderthals.

With sentiments like, “Honk if I’m buying you health care,” “Increasing taxes does not create jobs,” “Note to Congress: Update your resumes” and “If you can’t read the bill, get off the Hill,” they didn’t do it to themselves, either.

__ Connect with Brent Batten at naplesnews.com/staff/brent_batten

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