New Tea Party Target: Roger Ebert


Roger Ebert is getting a little taste of some very nasty tea...from tea partiers IRATE at the nerve of Roger Ebert for an offhand tweet he made in response to the California teens disciplined for wearing American flag t-shirts at a Cinco de Mayo school event.

Ebert tweeted:

Kids who wear American Flag t-shirts on 5 May should have to share a lunchroom table with those who wear a hammer and sickle on 4 July.

Well, you know that co-opting the favorite symbol of the tea party crowd wasn't going to set well, especially when you imply the perhaps there is a lack of empathy going on.

There are a few points of etiquette most of us learn early:

  1. Always send thank-you cards.
  2. Don't talk with your mouth full.
  3. Don't mock those who have battled cancer and won.

Those crazy tea partiers? They forgot lesson number three.

It seems they've worked themselves into a tizzy over Roger Ebert's comments on Twitter in response to the case in California where five kids were sent home early from school for wearing American flag garb on Cinco de Mayo.[..] reported response tweets from the Tea Party Tweeters like: “I mean honestly. How many pieces need to fall off @ebertchicago before he gets the hint to shut the (expletive) up” and “You know, @ebertchicago, I’m not as expert on flag etiquette as you. Tell me, which do I fly when you die of cancer?”

Hoo boy. You stay classy now. Ebert, bless his heart, has battled far more formidable foes than your nasty little tea bagger, so he's been giving as good as he's gotten on Twitter (follow him here: @ebertchicago). He also blogged about it in more than 140 characters on his blog:

The impression is spreading that I have drawn an equation between the American flag and the hammer and the sickle. I'm currently serving for target practice on some right-wing websites, and a group of Tweeters are having jolly fun portraying me as an America hater and worse.[..]

[My post] was tweeted at the height of the discussion over five white California kids who wore matching t-shirts to school on Cinco de Mayo, and were sent home by their school. This inspired predictable outrage in the usual circles.

Tweeted from lonestarag05: Its the USA not Mexico. They are allowed to be proud of their country. I wonder sometimes why you even stay here.

Many others informed me that Americans have the right to be proud of our flag, and wear it on T-shirts. Of course they do. That isn't the question. It's not what my Tweet said. What I suggested, in its 108 letters, is that we could all use a little empathy. I wish I had worded it better.

Let's begin with a fact few Americans know: Celebrating Cinco de Mayo is an American custom. The first such celebration was held in California in 1863, and they have continued without interruption. In Mexico itself it is not observed, except in the state of Puebla--the site of Mexico's underdog victory over the French on May 5, 1862.

Cinco de Mayo's purpose is to celebrate Mexican-American culture in the United States. We are a nation of immigrants, and have many such observances, for example St. Patrick's Day parades, which began in Boston in 1737 and not in Ireland until 1931. Or Pulaski Day, officially established in Illinois in 1977, and not observed in Poland. The first Chinese New Year's parade was held in San Francisco in the 1860s, and such parades began only later in China. In Chicago this August we will have the 81st annual Bud Billiken Parade, one of the largest parades in America, celebrating the African-American heritage.[..]

The question is obviously not whether Americans, or anyone else, has the right to wear our flag on their t-shirts. But empathetic people realize much depends on context. If, on Cinco de Mayo, you turn up at your school with a large Mexican-American student population wearing such shirts, are you (1) joining in the spirit of the holiday, or (2) looking for trouble?

I suggest you intend to insult your fellow students. Not because they do not respect THEIR flag, but because you do not respect their heritage. That there are five of you in matching shirts demonstrates you want to be deliberately provocative.

Give 'em hell, Roger.


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