Is the Tea Party movement racist?
During my appearance on KBDI television's "Studio 12" program last week to discuss the Tea Party movement, the subject came up briefly during the show (and again after the show while we were talking with the moderator, Tamara Banks) of why there were so few non-white faces in the crowd at the rallies. Attentive reader of these pages, Mike R., who watched the program online (which you can do HERE), noticed this and offered the following comment which I think is good and important enough to serve as my blog note for the day...
Ross, I was watching the replay of your TV appearance on your local PBS station on the topic of the Tea Party movement and I noticed that even in this civil format the pernicious "racial diversity" (as in: The lack thereof) meme gets snuck in around the edges of the conversation by the moderator.
The king of the histrionic left, Keith Olbermann and echoed to a lesser extent by Chris Matthews, Rachel Maddow as well as other print, blog and non-cable network media, has been hammering on this subject as one of his latest straw men and I suspect that this is part of an orchestrated "pushback" coming out of the White House. See this week’s Olbermann “Special Comment”: (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w0y4L_Ue5HY).
To me this seems a very dangerous tactic of racial division seeking to brand the entire movement as based in racism and may indeed lead to racially charged protests and more, around and against Tea Party gatherings/rallies this summer.
Since minorities, and specifically African Americans, have been co-opted and exploited by the Democrats and the left, they are extremely unlikely participants in an essentially anti big government, liberty based movement except where economic diversity and success has given way to individualism and enlightened self interest within various ethnic communities. In other words, the minority of minorities will tend to be small in number at such gatherings as simple logic would dictate.
They, African Americans, unfortunately represent one of the largest recipients of governmental redistributive largess, such that to become participants in a movement that would seem to rock the boat of state, would be against the interests of the majority who receive such government redistributive largess. Indeed, since the majority of the minority are not full and successful participants in the prosperity of the unassisted private sector, they have little or no stake in the defense of the private sector from the withering assaults of a redistributionist government.
[Note from Ross: Off the air, I said to Ms. Banks that "like it or not, a large percentage of African-Americans, especially in urban areas such as where most of these rallies are held, are recipients of government money. Therefore, they might see movements which rail against government spending as a threat to their "incomes."]
I wonder at what might be effective strategies to counter this sort of message coming from the left? I think the not-so-subtle message will emerge that Tea Parties and conservatives more generally, are seeking to 'disenfranchise' minorities and prevent the “long overdue and deserved remedies” for their plight that Savior Obama and the Democrats finally have the power to deliver.
Does this presage a civil war of sorts?
Given Obama's singular ‘talent’ for oration and “community organizing” (read: rabble rousing) and the media's willing complicity, I fear the power to motivate the reactionary ignorance of a large segment of our society and spur serious civil unrest or worse. Together with groups like SEIU, ACORN and powerful and exploitative voices on the left within the African American community like Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson et al., this could develop rapidly and dangerously into racially charged class warfare.
In some ways the very strength of the Tea Party message becomes an even stronger foil for the left and Obama, especially in the worsening economic conditions. It is an easy formula, given all of the media and political power at their disposal, to use the Tea Party movement to motivate reactionary ignorance with the simple minded notion that the “long deserved emancipation” of the workers and minorities is being blocked or forestalled by the conservatives, Tea Parties, wealthy fat cats, old white men etc. In short, real class warfare.
All of the strife, pent up dissatisfaction, fear and envy can be easily persuaded and motivated that “The One” has The Plan and the means to finally save them and give them what they deserve but the Tea Party, conservatives and Republicans, all characterized here as “fearful white people “are preventing Him.
“They” are preventing Him and the Democrats from doing “what is best” for the people (Read: TO the people) not because they vehemently disagree with His and the left’s policies but because He is a black president and “they” are afraid because “they” are all white people, ergo, ipso facto afraid of and opposed to, for that reason alone, his policies.
Note that no evidence of racism at Tea Party rallies or Town Hall meetings is ever offered in these arguments and diatribes, no evidence of exclusion in what are essentially grass roots movements which draw welcome strength from numbers and broad inclusiveness, virtually no evidence of violence of any kind except that directed against people of color and the elderly by union thugs and those who demand racial fealty on the left. The evidence instead offered is that a subjectively perceived under representation of minorities in a grass roots movement proves the movement has racist underpinnings. I wonder at the diversity of Obama’s now ex-parish on any given Sunday and what that might signify to these lofty thinkers/analysts on the left using this line of reasoning??
While the elites among the left may regard all of this as fair, if snarky, tactical sophistry to discredit a grass roots movement which surprised them and actually scares them, in reality it is nothing less than dangerous incitement. As the old saying goes, “play with fire and you will get burned”. I just worry about what and who will get burned if things get out of hand and who will be blamed for the mayhem.
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