Amy Myers is a pretty, 16-year-old Cherry Hill High School East sophomore and aspiring veterinarian. She is a critic of Minnesota congresswoman Michele Bachmann. She is also concerned for her personal safety.
She wrote a letter to Bachmann dated April 29. Together with her father, she posted it to CNN’s iReport on May 6. It didn’t take long for news outlets to pick up the story. In it, she criticized the Tea Party caucus leader: She challenged Bachmann to a constitutional debate.
“I have found quite a few of your statements regarding the Constitution of the United States, the quality of public school education and general U.S. civics matters to be factually incorrect, inaccurately applied or grossly distorted.”
In fact, many liberals and progressives have questioned the educational background of women like Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann. How do you get through school not knowing the things they don’t know? Where do the weird and bizarre notions they hold originate? Perhaps it is not so much our educational system as some people (Palin, Bachmann, O’Donnell, Angle, et al) not paying attention in class.
Myers also addressed Bachmann’s obligations and responsibilities as a woman:
“As one of a handful of women in Congress, you hold a distinct privilege and responsibility to better represent your gender nationally. The statements you make help to serve an injustice to not only the position of Congresswoman, but women everywhere.”
The reaction to Myers’ letter has been nothing short of terrifying.
“A lot of them are calling me a whore,” Myers said of anonymous. Amy and her father said the comments from conservative websites alarmed them most. Some commenters threatened to publish her home address. Others threatened violence. Some threatened rape.
Because she criticized the Tea Party goddess.
“They’re targeting me just because I’m challenging Bachmann,” Amy said.
It doesn’t matter that Bachmann won’t debate her. Nor are the facts pointed to by Myers important. It doesn’t matter that Bachmann, the Tea Party’s alleged constitutional expert is wrong about the constitution and that a 16-year-old high school student is right. What matters is that you can’t criticize the Tea Party.
A similar situation obtained in 1920s Germany. Republicans make much of Obama’s alleged brownshirts, but it is the Republicans and Tea Partiers themselves who employ the brownshirt tactics of intimidation and threats of violence.
Amy Myers canceled a schedule interview with the Courier Post, her right of free speech overcome by threats of violence.
The Courier Post relates that when asked how it was possible he did not anticipate a public backlash from Bachmann’s many fans, Wayne Myers said, “I personally did not think there would be a reaction like actual stalking and the vitriol that’s coming out.”
Anyone who has seen conservative forums and blogs will not be surprised by the reaction. But the naivete of Myers’ father is not a crime. Violence and rape are. Ignorance of the U.S. Constitution by elected officials ought to be.
There have been several instances of Bachmann’s ignorance of the Constitution, as the Courier Post relates. For example,
In 2009, Bachmann said she would refuse to participate fully in the 2010 Census because the U.S. Constitution requires she only provide the number of people who live in her household. That is wrong.
Given Bachmann reliance on notorious anti-historian David Barton, it’s unsurprising that Bachamnn should be so poorly informed.
And in several speeches, including one in response to President Barack Obama’s Jan. 25 State of the Union Address, Bachmann repeated the patently false claim that the Founding Fathers “worked tirelessly” to abolish slavery.
But a bigger issue for Myers is how Bachmann makes women look:
“I just wanted her to see what she’s doing is wrong and it hurts the way women look.”
The Tea Party in particular has made much of “strong” women like Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann. The narrative is that any opposition to the gross factual distortions and dishonesty of these women is founded on jealousy or misogyny or that those critics are threatened by strong women. But strong women are women like Ann and Nancy Wilson, of rock group Heart, who objected to the McCain-Palin campaign’s use of their signature song, “Barracuda”
The Wilson sisters said that “Sarah Palin’s views and values in NO WAY represent us as American women.”
And the Wilson sisters were right. Sarah Palin does not represent the values of American women. Nor does Michele Bachmann, as Amy Myers recognizes. A strong young woman, an American woman, Amy Myers tried to shame Bachmann into changing her ways:
“I was just trying to prove that when a 16-year-old notices somebody in Congress is doing something wrong, she should reflect on what she is doing and try to fix those errors.”
But the anti-American Tea Party is also anti-woman, and they don’t want any woman, including feisty 16-year-olds, to bust the formulaic requirements of ideology over fact, ignorance over education, and dishonesty over honesty. The Tea Party message is clear: there is no future for women who do not agree to sell their soul.