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Michael J.W. Stickings

Michael J.W. Stickings

Posted: July 16, 2010 12:01 PM

The Harsh Reality of Tea Party Racism

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Politico gave a platform the other day to a couple of teabaggers who, predictably, used that platform to hurl predictable attacks at, predictably, liberals:

A clear pattern of behavior has emerged over the last 16 months. According to liberals, if you disagree with their thinking, and if you disagree with the Obama administration, you are not only wrong, you are a "racist."


The latest strike by the left comes from the NAACP, which has resolved that the tea party movement is inherently "racist." At its most simple, this is a direct attack on the First Amendment rights of millions of Americans.

The only surprising thing about this attack is that the authors, Jenny Beth Martin and Mark Meckler, the co-founders of some right-wing group called Tea Party Patriots, restrict their horizon to 16 months. After all, this is the sort of thing we've heard from conservatives for years and years (if not decades and decades), the implication being that there is no racism on the right (or, here, in the Tea Party "movement") and that liberals play the race card simply in order to discredit conservatives.

The authors are right that their "movement" is quite large -- and I use "movement" in quotes because it isn't a unified front but rather a loosely connected collection of fringe groups that share much of the same extremist right-wing ideology (and while they're fringe in terms of the political spectrum, they're far more mainstream in terms of conservative and Republican politics).

But the NAACP is right that there are "racist elements" among the teabaggers. "You must expel the bigots and racists in your ranks or take full responsibility for all of their actions," NAACP president Benjamin Jealous has said." Note that Jealous did not say that all teabaggers are "bigots and racists," just certain "elements." There's a big difference there, but the hostile defensiveness of teabaggers is telling: either they don't want to own up to the racism and bigotry of their own kind, out of ignorant denial or willful suppression of the truth, or they agree with it but are smart enough not to be so outspoken about their real views.

There is extensive evidence of racism and bigotry among teabaggers, much of it directed at President Obama. Like so many conservatives before them, the teabaggers may try to turn it around on their critics, claiming that allegations of racism are part of some nefarious liberal smear campaign, but they cannot escape the undeniable truth -- that is, undeniable for any reasonable person who lives in reality -- that there is an ugly strain of racism and bigotry in their ranks, a strain that taints the entire "movement."

Defenders of slavery, opponents of civil rights -- they were racists, not the victims of liberal propaganda. The same goes for the racists in the KKK and the neo-Nazi movement, just as it goes for the various racists in the Tea Party "movement." No, that "movement" isn't the KKK, and not all teabaggers are racist, but to deny the existence of widespread racism in the Tea Party "movement" is to deny a fairly significant element of what that "movement" is all about.

Helpfully, Think Progress has put together "a short video demonstrating the vile racism that has been exhibited at some Tea Party events." I encourage you to watch it:

(Cross-posted from The Reaction.)

 

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