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I’ve attended tea party events.  I am a constitutional conservative.  I believe that the Obama administration is pushing a socialist agenda, along with 55% of Americans so I’m not alone.

I don’t think signs like the one on the left are helpful however.  More than that I think they are counterproductive.   The AP reports:

A billboard created by an Iowa tea party group comparing President Barack Obama to Adolf Hitler and Vladimir Lenin is being condemned by other tea party activists.

The North Iowa Tea Party began displaying the sign in Mason City last week.

The sign includes photos of Obama, Nazi leader Hitler and communist leader Lenin with the statement: “Radical leaders prey on the fearful & naive.”

North Iowa Tea Party co-founder Bob Johnson says the sign highlights what the group argues is Obama’s support for socialism. He says the pictures might be overwhelming the intended message.

Shelby Blakely, a spokeswoman for the national Tea Party Patriots, says the sign isn’t appropriate. She says her group opposes any comparisons of Obama to Hitler or Lenin.

While both Hitler and Lenin were socialist, that isn’t the image that comes to mind.   They think instead – concentration camps, holocaust, Red Terror, gulags, and mass murder.  I think it would also be a mistake, as I’m sure some will be prone to do to call this race driven.  No, this is about policies, not race.

I’m glad the AP was on top of this just as I’m glad they covered displays like the ones below when President George W. Bush was in office.

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Oh wait, I guess they never did cover these tolerant people at left-wing rallies.  This must have been ok since the media overlooked it.  Thanks to Liberty Pundits for helping me stroll down memory lane.

The fact that there is a media bias and inequity in reporting doesn’t excuse the billboard.  This hurts, not helps, the tea party cause for tax cuts, smaller government, and fiscal responsibility.  It distorts the message and gives the opposition ammunition.  Let’s do better than this.

HT: Memeorandum

Update 7/14/10: The billboard was papered over today:

The phrase “radical leaders prey on the fearful and naive” had been plastered at the bottom of the billboard yesterday.  Ryan Rhodes, chairman of the Iowa Tea Party movement, says the billboard was counterproductive.

“It’d be great to have a billboard that’s really actually helpful, that’s not demonstrating fear but demonstrating freedom and that we have solutions and goals,” Rhodes says.

The North Iowa Tea Party paid to put up the billboard in downtown Mason City, drawing criticism — including criticism from others in the Tea Party movement.  Rhodes, the chairman of the Iowa Tea Party, hopes the new blank slate that’s now in that spot could be put to better use.

“It’s got to be more than just the initial shock/fear value,” Rhodes says.  “What we need is something that accomplishes our goals because our goals are about helping people understand and educating them about our nation’s founding and the path bath to American exceptionalism.”

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