Simmer down or what, Ms. Keli Carender?

William Temple Contributor
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This article is a response to Keli Carender’s Sept. 30th piece, “Simmer down, Mr. William Temple.”

I hate being ordered to do anything, Ms. Carender. Last time I was under orders I was in the Army. And except for the occasional direction to take out the trash by my wife, I don’t respond well to being told to sit in the corner or focus in “time out.”  So your puny attempt to scold and silence me reminds me of the reply that my brigade used to make concerning anything trivial: “Don’t mean nuthin’!”

So what are you going to do if I don’t simmer down? “Banish” me to Nam?  (Been there, done that!)  Are you going to disavow my right to question questionable practices, or restrict opinion pieces that raise concerns about million-dollar gifts from “anonymous” donors; a gift that has many grassroots Tea Party folks using your word: “nefarious!”  (I get emails and phone calls too, Ms. Carender!)

Obviously you didn’t take Matt Lewis’ article you quoted to heart.  You quoted:

“This response (to my article) is not meant to chill legitimate criticism or people who have questions.”

Oh, really!  I still have a lot of questions; and in fact, the same questions.  (Can you see my hand in the back of the class?  Yes, the man in the funny clothes with the teapot!)  I think my questions, though boorish to you, are “legitimate and critical” for the movement.  And yes, your response does feel intimidatingly “chilly” right now.

But as you restated what Matt stated adroitly:

“…conservatives and tea partiers must be able to look inward and constructively criticize when it is warranted.”

So I presume, Ms. Carender, when one receives a million-dollar “anonymous” donation just before an election (where politics is the game), it would not occur to you that the gift and giver might just warrant a little examination, or even a slightly raised eyebrow?  Isn’t blindly trusting people, those who often say that they have our best interests at heart, what got this nation into its present predicament?  When money and power are concerned, I think all of us need to ask the indelicate questions, no matter who the political entity purports to represent.  “Trust but verify” was what Reagan told the Kremlin.  Sounds like good advice.

You said my article was “a breathless indictment.”  Well, please don’t hold your breath, Ms. Carender; it’s not healthy in the long run.  And “indictment”?  I think it was a question: Who gave the Tea Party Patriots a cool million dollars just before the election? I don’t think that’s an indictment.  But did you really think that no one outside TPP was asking it?  And please don’t be patronizing by asking me to believe a little verbal obfuscation gets any closer to the answer.  The question stands, and I’ll give $5 to the first investigative reporter who discovers the source.  Sorry, that’s all this grassroots Tea Party guy can afford in this economy!

How your grants are applied or distributed doesn’t bring us any closer to answering the question either.  But “values based?”  What and whose values?  And what “legitimate” Tea Parties will you “determine” get these grants?  Is my Golden Isles Tea Party “worthy,” Ms. Carender?  Yes or no?  Who determines if it is worthy?  And for some administrative reason, my Tea Party is no longer listed on the TPP list?  Guess we aren’t values-worthy enough!

Ms. Carender, my Tea Party is not beholden to TPP for grants, nor would we accept a grant if offered. We’ve done quite well “getting-out-the-vote” without it!  Our question is, when will TPP give an account showing how and to whom this money is given, including how the $10,000 of “administrative” funds are used after the midterm is over?

You accused me of making “egregious” accusations without any evidence.  Well, if that is so, let’s put the matter to rest once and for all.  You can open your records for all to scrutinize, including the travel and expense files for 2009 and 2010, the receipts submitted, and reveal who provided the million dollars at the same time.  Why not have a transparent accounting of all the donations; and while we’re at it, from “all” the umbrella groups, not just TPP?  How’s that?  Are you game?  Nothing like shinning a little light on the movement, especially so as not to resemble the government we’re protesting.

Yet, I do want you to know I searched my heart deeply, and I don’t feel the slightest compunction to abase myself before you.  I’m not in the habit of apologizing for asking responsible people to act responsibly!

This year I sadly witnessed month after month, and following CPAC in February, “TPP” and “Freedom Works” jointly refuse to assist or promote “Unite in Action” with their major event on 9/11, or work together with them for a joint alternative for the good of the movement.  I talked face to face with the first two group’s coordinators at CPAC, when the “Contract from America” was unveiled.  I tried to convince them that if they placed their event on 9/12 they would accomplish nothing but divide and confuse the Tea Parties around the country about which event was the “official” event for 2010; thereby watering down the impact and attendance at both events.  But that is what they pursued, and that is what happened.  And there’s a fact for you, Ms. Carender.  Care to explain it?

The best way for a teapot to simmer down is for the heat to be turned off.  The longer the pot is heated, the more likely the pot will not just simmer but boil.  And a boiling teapot makes a terrible sound!

And for future events, Ms. Carender, please let me extend a sincere invitation for you and the TPP staff to ride the buses from Brunswick, Georgia, the ten to twelve hours to D.C.  You can evaluate our worthiness, and you can meet some real grassroots folks, who with all that time available can bring you up to speed on what we want from organizations like yours.  We’ve learned from you never to wear T-shirts with the word “Patriots” on them, thank you very much!  However, we may consider making signs asking: “Who gave the million dollars to TPP?”

William Temple is a historical re-enactor, a pastor of a Bible church in Brunswick, Ga., and a well-known figure at Tea Party events across the country.