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David Sirota

David Sirota

Posted: September 14, 2009 10:05 AM

On Racism, Death Threats and the Blindness of Those Who Will Not See


I appeared on CNN this weekend with Florida Republican Party Chairman Jim Greer to discuss the racial undertones of the tea party protests. You can watch the clip here.

As the images of the tea party march prove, there are, obviously, such racial undertones. However, there are many who refuse to acknowledge that simple truism, instead opting to pursue what I call "dog whistle politics." I know this not from just reading the swill on right wing websites, but from the loads of angry hate mail I received after appearing on CNN -- including one that was an explicit death threat.

Yes, last night I received a full-on death threat from a person promising to kill me if I dare discuss the racial undertones of the froth that Glenn Beck and other political terrorists are clearly encouraging. I went through the process of contacting the authorities, and the police responded very quickly, which was reassuring. The whole episode speaks to a post I did last week about the Nation of Assholes -- and it is demoralizing.

We're living in a world where the behavior of right-wing lynch mobs clearly is far less about ideology, and far more about partisanship and racial hate. As I said on CNN, we know this because for all the talk of concern about the Constitution and the growth of government, the tea party protesters were nowhere to be found when George W. Bush trampled the Constitution and grew the government. That double standard exposes the truly dark forces driving this right-wing anger -- and those on the right who refuse to acknowledge it proves the old adage that there are none so blind as those who will not see.

Mind you, though, willful ignorance is not the exclusive purview of the right. Over the weekend, I received some very nasty email and Twitter messages from self-declared "progressives" insisting that the news of a UnitedHealth lobbyist holding a fundraiser with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is a conspiracy theory that I fabricated, not really connected to Pelosi or the Democratic Party, or some amalgamation of both. These people have no actual evidence to support their claims -- their attacks on me come from a sick form of sycophancy that makes them absolutely unable to do anything other than deify Democratic politicians. Again, there are none so blind as those who cannot see.

It goes without saying that there isn't a moral equivalence between conservatives who issue death threats against people for calling out racism* and Democratic Party cultists who attack people who tell some of the disappointing truths about the Democratic Party. However, the theme that ties them together is willful ignorance -- the foundational impulse of the new Nation of Assholes we now live in.

Frankly, it's been a scary and depressing few days for me personally, and I'm exhausted from trying to use verifiable facts to reason with far-right activists and Democratic sycophants who are willfully ignorant. But I guess my own negative emotions and fatigue are a predictable ramification of the work I'm engaged in -- and obviously, it's far worse for those with bigger platforms and/or those who are bearing the brunt of racism and the economic class war.

For my part, I won't back down. The fights we're fighting are too important to let a small minority of fringe assholes on both sides deter us from seeking the truth -- and achieving progress.


* Note to conservatives: Issuing death threats against political opponents doesn't really debunk the idea that you are building a political lynch mob. Some might say it actually confirms the assertion.