Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Minority Retort

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.


NinjaMom said...

Every time I hear "traditional American values" I cringe and hear "white" values.

Chez said...

Yes -- traditional American values = white Christian values.

The make-up of the country is changing: Hispanics are a huge force in America now, blacks have a larger voice, gays are allowed to marry in some places and are being afforded equal rights. And all that scares the hell out of the white Christians, who've always clung to their idyllic vision of America -- the one where, not coincidentally, they're in complete control.

Riles said...

Bill Maher spoke about "traditional American values" recently, mainly about how white men long for the idyllic period during the 50's. And he pointed out why: that's when they were completely in charge. There was still segregation, women couldn't vote, there were less (brown) immigrants, etc., etc., etc.

He such this in a much more entertaining way of course, but he made a great point.

Tony said...

I think Tabbi's comment about the spin on the housing crisis fitting seamlessly into republican worldview is spot on. I live and work with a lot of republicans and watching them regurgitate the lines about the housing crisis being the fault of "no good Hispanics" it was really hard for me to keep my cool. We had many a long debate over the issue before I convinced some of them that banks were at least equally to blame.

Alanna said...

That last statement is one of the most true (and one of your finest) statements I've read to date.

Chez said...

Believe it or not, Riles, I never saw that episode of Maher. And yet I parroted that sentiment almost word-for-word.

And yet he's banging chicks at the Playboy mansion three at a time and I'm -- not.

Agent Scully said...

To me, this became apparent when the ACORN stories hit the media. First it was fraudulent voter registrations, then the prostitution videos. My mother in law has turned into a Sarah Palin loving, Glen Beck regurgitation machine. When she started a conversation with me about the atrocities of ACORN I had to stop her because it was clear to me that it wasn’t about a company lying and cheating (I gave her Blackwater, Xe and KBR as examples) it was the fact that poor minorities were being registered and encouraged to vote. Since this conversation, she has purchased two shot guns and expressed admiration for the Tea Party, spouting the “small government” and “less taxes” bullshit the majority of them hide behind.

The world evolves, these people do not.

Chez said...

Mindless, meaningless Palin-inspired talking points: smaller government! lower taxes!

Kevin Davis said...

I dunno... I always thought of Maher as the creepy celebrity girls stay away from like Andy Dick. Back when I was at Santa Barbara, we saw Adam Carolla walk down Del Playa (known for literally thousands of college kids walking around every fri/sat) trying to score but he wasn't very successful at all. That being said, Maher represents one third of the holy trinity for me (Trey Parker/Jon Stewart).

Ursula said...

I find Maher attractive. Definitely wouldn't turn him down. But I also find Keith Olbermann extremely hot. There might be something wrong with me.

"And yet he's banging chicks at the Playboy mansion three at a time and I'm -- not." ...yet?

Alanna said...

Maher is definitely attractive. No where near Jon Stewart level, however.

Kevin, I swear...UCSB, too? When I lived in LA would make bi-monthly treks up to Los Olivos/Solvang (Im a bit of a wineaux)to hit the vineyards and we'd spend our nights in Santa Barbara on State Street just drinking away.

Alanna said...

and with Ursula.

Also wanted to add that I have become torn about about this situation at times. I have always been pro- social programs like TANF, WIC, SSD, etc...and I believe in unemployment benefits, without a doubt - however, something in me questions what the benefit of some of these programs accomplish at times.

I work at a college and part of my position is to financially package all of my students, 90% who come from a family that is either in Section 8 housing, receiving TANF, foodstamps, etc. Which means, since I work for a private school, we're talking massive Federal Loans and sometimes...private.
Statistically, 90% of my students come from a home where there is only one-parent (usually mom) and the divide is staggering: 50% of parents work their asses off with both minimal "on the books" jobs and a fuck-load of off the book to make ends meet while keeping their bennies while the others don't work a day and expect their child should be going to school for free, without question. The way these students receive federal grants is for me to prove to the "powers that be" that student's estimated family contribution is less than that of the cost of the college. That's how students qualify for grants for higher education. For 2009-2010 school year the minimum requirement for a Family of 2 parents and 2 dependenets under 23 is $17,775/annum. That's it. So that's what I do. I spend hours making sure the families I consult with are not stating over this threshold on their 1040's (won't go into the minutia of how I do this) so that they can max out on Federal and in my case, New York State, grant money to go to school. For the students who's parents are non-citizens - even easier - all that is required is a written statement that verifies the parent is an "ineligible noncitizen not required to file taxes with no ITN number". And therefore - student (as long as they are a citizen) is going to receive $10K - $11K/year in undergraduate "free money". question I justified to feel a bit resentful, like this is just a game of smoke and mirrors too often? That I busted my ass to pay off student loans I took for college because my parents made more than the threshold (which at that time may have been, say, $10,000/annum in we are comparing to 2009-2010 of $17,775?). What about middle-class families of whom state that they make over said amountand thus do not qualify for financial assistance? Massive student loans for years. Am I justified in feeling...pitiful?

Or do I applaud that we have a system taht allows so many students from all walks of life to attend colleges but subsidizing their education. This point may seem removed, but to me, this an issue as well. Who gets to take advantage of this and who does not? Who qualifies? Is this a question of looking at this system and re-defining parameters? or is this a right v. wrong?

Yes, 92% of my student's are either African-American or Hispanic. This is what comprises the NYC public school system. That is where we recruit our students. These students come to me in the fall of their Senior year with the worst fucking attitudes on earth. They've been told they will be NOTHING most of their HS careers because that's what is expected of them. Many of them come to me at 16 and have kids. When I convince them they can go to school and receive an education, receive an Associate's degree and subsequently we place them in careers within in NYC area - I see their eyes light up and complete demeanor change - like I CAN do something with myself? I'm not gonna end up dropping out of Community College and I can get my family out of that apartment we can barely fit in? How can I say we need to strip the grants away from students because their parents may or may not be taking advantage of TANF, section 8, etc, Is it really necessary to punish these kids today to set an example for those in the future?

Vermillion said...

Well, Alanna, the fact that you do feel so conflicted, and see the situation so complicated, shows you still give a damn. That is good, and far more than any of these yahoos. As far as they are concerned, it really is a matter of black and white.

Being one of those students loaned out the ass because my parents worked a little TOO hard, I know where your concerns are coming from. Any beneficial program will suffer from scam artists and moochers. Some people just like to game the system, no matter what. And restricting or removing the program doesn't help, because all that happens is that you squeeze out the people that legitimately need the help (since the scammers will simply adjust their lies to fit any new criteria). It is just a sad fact, really. Both sides of the issue suffer from those who can't see beyond their own selfish desires.

So don't let the assholes get you down.

Riles said...

Back to Maher, anyone see his recent HBO stand-up special? I'm so used to seeing him in suits, yet he went tight-ish black short-sleeved shirt and jeans. It was a little jarring, not that he went casual, but that he looked like an older Anderson Cooper. Seriously, he's got the same albino look and gray hair. Add a tight black shirt and they're the same guy.

Anonymous said...

What a moron you are...spouting off as if you even know what is going through the minds of the majority of Americans.

You point to 1, 2, maybe 10-20 signs that "hint" at racism and call that good enough to label a whole class of your fellow Americans as "racist"?

Boy howdy, I sure would like to know where those liberal sentiments about not labeling others and 'not judging a group based on the actions of a few' went.

What you are doing is called "classism". Prejudice or discrimination based on social class which includes but is not limited to: individual attitudes/behaviors, systems, policies, or practices of a group. You can take your pick

It is equivalent to racism, but I bet you still sleep well at night.

You are not helping anything by fanning flames. Perhaps you are helping your bank account though, as it seems (according to your bio) you get paid to spew garbage.

If I am incorrect, and you don't get paid to spew garbage, I suggest you look at yourself before judging others, especially if you are going to do it in a hypocritical way such as demeaning a whole group based on the actions of a few.

Living proof racism can and will exist is in this post. You just missed the target.

"Inflammatory? Maybe. But also true."

Perhaps you should go back to journalism school you fucking partisan hack. Inflammatory? Maybe. But also true.

And just so I don't get the smart ass responses, I have NEVER been to a Tea Party event and do not consider myself part of the movement. I am not for or against their movement, I am just so VERY VERY sick of articles like this. You are using the same tactics as those you are criticizing for USING THOSE TACTICS! PROFILING!

This is why journalism is a dying art.

Anonymous said...

If my first comment did not make it in, fine, good, I don't care.

All I want is for YOU to know those words, and heed them.

Alanna said...

too bad lobotomies are passe.