There are few things I love more than a beautiful piece of footage or a photograph from the civil rights era. I admit that when I was younger I romanticized these periods, and was convinced that I'd been born during the wrong decade. I was certain that I should have been born in the 1950s so I could march in solidarity for civil rights. As I got older and started to learn about the truth, the hard work, the violence, the fear and the hatred during this time; the period lost its romantic edge, but the respect I have for this time period didn't diminish.
November 4, 2008. I did not expect to feel as proud as I did that day. I even felt a twinge of guilt for being so proud, I mean proud of what? My race? Obama? For days and months and yes even years people talked about what Barack Obama winning meant. It meant we had turned a new page as Americans. We had stepped out of the nasty, bitter hate filled days of the 50s and 60s into a new era. A post racial era. A black man was president; a black man is president; we've come so far, America.
When the tea parties started I gave them little attention. A group of right wing nut jobs, mostly white, angry Republicans who think it's their turn to be upset with the "other party" now that they aren't in power.
But then a disturbing thing started happening. The Tea Party Movement started comparing themselves to the civil rights movement; a time when people could no longer stand the legalized oppression and unconstitutional laws enforced by the government and joined together in organized, civilized protest to change the laws to provide equal human rights for all with the goal of eliminating legal racism. Oh Tea Party Patriots, you are a misguided group of buffoons. When you have a fire hose spraying you down, when you are legally beaten in public, when the bus you're riding in is fire bombed, when you decide to take a peaceful stance instead of bringing your browning when Brown doesn't work, come back and then we'll talk civil rights movement.
These people are demanding their country back. Well who absconded with their country? Where did it go? Is their country worse or better now that a Democrat working for their interests is in the power chair as opposed to The Decider who nearly bankrupted us with two wars? There is nothing that will satisfy these people because their real problem is their bigotry, their fear and their racism.
They cannot stomach the idea of a black person in the White House, making decisions for them. Where were these people when Bush was president? Weren't they upset about the government's interference in their privacy or is it only health care? It's now and only now, when a person of color is in a position of power that we see the hateful, nasty bitter side of racism that people are so quick to dismiss. These people aren't "hurting", these people aren't "angry and confused." These people are self righteous, dangerous, gun toting racists spurred on by the Limbaughs and the Glenn Becks and the Sean Hannitys of the world. These are the people demanding that Obama go "back to Nigeria where he belongs And who has their support? The Republican Party.
The very idea that Republicans support these bigots tells you exactly where we stand today as far as being post race. The Tea Party is a modern day Klan on its way to becoming a modern day lynching party and the fact that we stand idly by and watch them do it is disheartening. They shouldn't be ignored. They ought be exposed, they ought to be pointed out, and quite honestly, we should stop trying to relate to them as Progressives. They don't want us and I don't want them.
In 1961 during the spring freedom rides, Rep. John Lewis was beaten by an angry white mob. In 1965 he was again badly beaten in public while marching from Selma to Montgomery by the police. My guess is during that time, during that struggle, he never could have dreamed some 40 years later while trying to improve the quality of life for all Americans he would feel the same hatred and incivility from an angry white mob in 2010. How far we've come, America.