In this month’s Ebony magazine, Condoleezza Rice says that members of the Tea Party have said some appalling things but denied that the party, itself, is racist. She identifies the movement as populist.
The Daily Beast quotes Rice as saying: “I certainly don’t agree with everything said by the Tea Party,” she said. “I see people saying the conversation in Washington and the conversation in the rest of the country is not the same conversation… Listen Washington: Out here we’re losing something that’s very essential to being American.”
What makes what some Tea Party remarks appalling?
Pure, unadulterated racism with whiffs of anti-Semitism and the fact that the leadership never calls it out.
And since when are populism and racism mutually exclusive?
Populism may be perceived in many different ways. It is certainly appropriate to worry about debt, our troubled economy — turned out not to be a mental recession, after all — but when rhetoric like this:
leads to incidents like this. On October 26, a member of Tea Party candidate Rand Paul’s team, assaulted a Move On demonstrator:
The line has been crossed. Again.
It shouldn’t be a surprise to learn that the stomper wants an apology:
“After his Rand Paul stomp, Profitt told WKYT television in Lexington, Ky., that he would like Valle to apologize to him for causing so much trouble. He called the incident “no big deal” and said he stomped on Valle’s head because he has “issues with his back.” Profitt also blamed the police for not arresting Valle when he asked them to. The Rand Paul for Senate campaign has yet to apologize to Valle, but released a statement urging both sides not to let their “political passions” lead to “physical altercations of any kind.”” (http://personalmoneystore.com/moneyblog/2010/10/27/rand-paul-stomp/)
No word yet from the responsible tea party organization or the Republican party. See my previous post on profound cynicism.
And don’t forget some other crucial facts:
The [NAACP and Institute for Research & Education on Human Rights] report details ongoing links between Tea Party organizations and various White supremacist groups, anti-immigrant organizations, and independent militias. In addition, the report reveals, five of the six major Tea Party groups are headed by so-called “birthers”—people who deny President Obama’s citizenship.
“It started for us when we started to see Council of Conservative Citizens members (formerly the White Citizens Council), which we were keeping track of, getting involved in the Tea Party movement,” Mr. Zeskind continued. “And then, to top it off, the polling data showed that there were significant elements in the population, that when asked whether or not they were pro or against the Tea Parties, they did not have enough information to make up their minds.
“And we saw also that the Tea Party was a lot like a tornado, with gale force terrible winds and storms at the center and was picking up people on the periphery who didn’t know what was going on in the middle of the storm,” he said. The entire report including interactive maps, Mr. Zeskind said is available online at: TeaPartyNationalism.com.
What to do?
Let us turn to the wise words of Jay Smooth of Nil Doctrine. http://www.illdoctrine.com/2008/07/how_to_tell_people_they_sound.html
He outlines a very cool strategy. Don’t fall into the trap of calling people racists. It calls their characters into question and derails action. Instead, focus on holding them accountable for the racist things they have said or done.
The last word goes to Jim Nelson of GQ (h/t field negro blog)
“What I know from Tea Partiers RE their hot simmering rage is, Where was it before? When it was called for–when your country needed it. Why weren’t you fired up and out in the streets in your colonial britches when President Bush drunk-drove the country into the hell of the Iraq war, which not only put our troops in harms way but has cost us—and here’s where I thought you might relate—possibly 900 billion (!) of your tax money? (More if you count the cost of caring for our soldiers, and please do.) Tea Partiers! Compatriots! We could have used your rage, your rabid hatred of taxation, and your Magic Markers in that fight. But you were nowhere to be found, because your anger had not yet been funded by corporate interests,” (~Jim Nelson~GQ, November 2010).