Wednesday, March 03, 2010
Anybody who reads this site semi-regularly knows that it took me a hell of a long time to be willing to admit to myself that the issue most of the far-right tea bagging types have with Barack Obama is that he's black. It's obviously one of those things I'd always hoped I was wrong about and I don't ever throw around accusations of racism indiscriminately and unfairly because I feel like a lot of people do just that in this country, and do it far too often. It's cheap and easy to label somebody a racist -- and that label tends to stick and obscure all other facts during any argument in which it's utilized, often as a kind of nuclear option.
As expected, when I did finally concede that race played a very big part in what drives the right's irrational hatred of Obama -- that, along with the general feeling that he's just plain not "one of us" -- I caught all kinds of shit for it. I stand by it, though, because while I have no doubt that not every tea partier has a problem with the color of Obama's skin, it's almost impossible to ignore the evidence that points to race as the impetus for the tea party as a movement -- the reason it's happening now after years of governmental, Constitutional abuses.
Here's what I wrote back in September of last year:
"That's really what it's all about, though -- the fact that Barack Obama's political enemies don't actually accept him as president. They consider him an illegitimate -- his presidency some kind of sham, regardless of the overwhelming majority he won back in November of 2008. They've demonized and marginalized him -- called him a foreigner, a socialist, a threat to the American way of life, a cult leader intent on indoctrinating and enslaving our children through sheer force of personality. They bring guns to places he's speaking; they have so little respect for the man or the fact that he won the office he now holds that they intimate that they're willing to cause physical harm to him and his supporters. Seriously, how many times in your life have you heard anyone refer to a sitting president of the United States as a communist and be taken seriously by an entire network news department and its viewers? Have you ever? Even once?
I never wanted to play this card, but the longer this outright hostility continues -- the further it's allowed to be amplified -- the more I think that the only word Barack Obama's mainstream attackers are steering clear from at this point is 'nigger.' They're thinking it -- just not saying it."
Inflammatory? Maybe. But also true.
Well, Cesca's now posted an excellent piece over at HuffPo that deconstructs the racial motivation of the tea party movement.
"From the outset, the tea party was based on a contradictory premise (the original tea party was a protest against a corporate tax cut). And when you throw out all of the nonsense and contradictions, there's nothing left except race. There's no other way to explain why these people were silent and compliant for so long, and only decided to collectively freak out when this 'foreign' and 'exotic' president came along and, right out of the chute, passed the largest middle class tax cut in American history -- something they would otherwise support, for goodness sake, it was $288 billion in tax cuts! -- we're left to deduce no other motive but the ugly one that lurks just beneath the pale flesh, the tri-corner hats and the dangly tea bag ornamentation... A white candidate would never be accused of being a secret Muslim. A white candidate would never be accused of being a foreign usurper. Only a black candidate with a foreign name would be accused of 'palling around with domestic terrorists' ... In the final analysis, when you boil away all of the weirdness, it becomes clear that the teabaggers are pissed because there isn't yet another doddering old white guy in the White House -- like they're used to. That's what this is all about."
Meanwhile, Matt Taibbi also tackles the subject of not simply race but that other traditional far-right boogeyman, those lazy and/or job-stealing Hispanics, and puts it in the context of the tea partiers' view of the current financial crisis.
"The (Tea Party) movement, and let’s admit this, has some of its roots in legitimate grievances about government waste and some not-entirely-inaccurate observations about what’s left of the American welfare state. Of course what resonates most with the suburban whites who mostly make up the Tea Party are stories about minorities and immigrants using section 8 housing, food stamps, Medicaid, TANF and other programs, with the Obama stimulus being for them a symbol of this ongoing government largess... The Fox/CNBC types have very cannily latched on this narrative to rewrite the history of the financial crisis. They know that Tea Partiers will go for any narrative that puts blame on poor (and especially poor minority) homeowners, because the idea of poor blacks and Hispanics borrowing beyond their means fits seamlessly with their world view. But this is a situation where poor minorities were really incidental to a much larger fraud scheme that culminated in a welfare program — the bank bailouts — that dwarf the entire 'entitlement' infrastructure."
The fact is this: When you hear tea baggers shouting about how "we need to take back our country," it should be damn obvious who they think stole it away from them.