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Wednesday, March 24, 2010

INCIVILITY? HARDLY – IT’S RACISM, PURE AND SIMPLE

I’ve been saying, ever since the Tea Party Movement started, that it was a racist organization. I’ve been to several Tea Party functions, and I have seen NO people of any colour other than white at any of them. Look at the photographs of their “convention”, for example. WHERE are the people of colour? And echo answers. I’ve also been saying that the Tea Party Movement is homophobic – and it is. If nothing else, the events of this Saturday and Sunday past prove that beyond any doubt, reasonable or otherwise. I'll add that I've also been told that A) I was lying; B) I was wrong; C) I was a conspiracy theorist and D) Well, you're a liberal, and you don't understand what's going on.

Wrong on all counts, folks. I understand what's going on, and believe me, I wish that I didn't.

You've probably heard about Tea Party members shouting "N-WORD" at Black Congressmen during a protest in Washington, D.C. last weekend. One of the protesters spat on Congressman Emmanuel Cleaver, while another called openly gay Representative Barney Frank a "faggot" as the laughing crowd imitated his lisp. Saturday was just the most recent example of the intolerance and hate coming from right-wing extremists this past year. At times, it's been instigated by Republican leaders. When it wasn't, it was condoned and seen as part of a strategy to score politically. Either way, this crap is completely unacceptable and has to stop.

Republican leaders publicly denounced Sunday's ugly scene, but they failed to acknowledge that this is only the latest incident in a pattern of violent rhetoric, racially charged imagery, and paranoid conspiracy theories at Tea Party rallies. Many Tea Partiers aren't simply about dissent, believe me; they use fear and hatred to assault the very legitimacy of our elected leaders. It's the worst – the very worst - America has to offer.

Despite this, Republican leaders court the Tea Party movement while methodically supporting, exacerbating and exploiting their fear and anger for cynical, self-serving political ends. The Tea Party movement has been marked by racially inflammatory and violent outbursts since its inception a year ago. GOP leaders are trying to pass off this weekend's assaults on Congressmen Lewis, Cleaver, Clyburn and Frank as isolated incidents. But when so-called "isolated incidents" crop up again and again, a pattern starts to emerge. The examples are numerous, and all the more egregious because of the self-righteous, hands-in-the-air, “We don’t condone this!” wink wink nudge nudge crap that the rest of the Republican Party uses in dismissing the entire subject.

Would that we COULD dismiss the entire subject – but that’s just not possible. Not now, not next week, not next century. NEVER. This is something that’s gotten so far out of hand that it’s both sickening and disgusting, not to mention frightening. And it’s all inspired – and mark this well, gangers – by fear. Scratch a Tea Partier and you will find that they are all, without exception, pissed off that there’s a black man – and an UPPITY black man who actually thinks that he's at least as smart as they are – leading the country. They’re scared that they will have to confront their own racism and find out that they are wrong. Wrong about the President in particular, and wrong about the African-American population in general.

Now, for some examples: At rallies held to protest tax day last year (2009), Tea Partiers carried signs that announced "Obama's Plan: White Slavery," "The American Taxpayers are the Jews for Obama's Oven," and "Guns Tomorrow!" The Republican National Committee endorsed the rallies, and RNC Chairman Michael Steele encouraged Tea Partiers to send a "virtual tea bag" to President Obama and Democratic Congressional leadership. The Tea Party's vicious, venomous rhetoric picked up steam over the summer, when angry mobs flooded town hall meetings legislators had organized as sites for rational, civil debate on health care reform. After one meeting in Atlanta, a swastika was painted on the office of Congressman David Scott (D-GA), who had also received a flier addressed to "n***a David Scott." Some protesters showed up at town hall meetings carrying guns, including at least one man who was armed at an event where the President was speaking. Again, Republicans responded to these tactics with silence, doing nothing to denounce them.

Even worse, there was no public outcry from Republican leadership when Mark Williams, a leader of the Tea Party movement, was exposed for having described the President as "an Indonesian Muslim turned welfare thug and a racist in chief" on his blog. Instead, members of the GOP continued to show up to and endorse Tea Party rallies. And as recently as Sunday, the day that the historic health care bill passed the House, Republican members of the House riled up the same Tea Party crowd that had earlier harassed their fellow members with hate and bigotry. This, incidentally, is why I say "ReThugs". Only thugs indulge themselves in this sort of vile behaviour.

I guess that Michael Steele is used to being called “Uncle Tom” and “Oreo”, and that those highly-charged racial epithets don’t bother him. Tokenism – and that’s all that Michael Steele is, or ever has been. He’s a token. He’s the public face that the ReThugs (NOT the RePUBS, mind you) have put into place, to put the President in an inferior position to the rest of the racists. After reports of the fear-mongering signs surfaced, Steele did nothing to distance his party from the lunatic fringe. He has even gone so far as to say that if he didn't have his current position, he'd be "out there with the tea partiers”. As if they’d allow that.

David Frum – remember him? Here’s a link to an article that he wrote on Sunday, March 21, 2010, after his party suffered the worst defeat that it’s had for a very long time: http://www.truthout.org/david-frum-waterloo57875. It’s a excellent article, and it points out what everybody has known for a long time, and nobody wanted to address; after all the hysteria, the “anger”, the whipping up of the ReThug base, and the baseless, racist crap that was then and still is being shouted out against a sitting President – they still lost. THEY STILL LOST. Lawsuits and everything else aside, THEY STILL LOST and they are going to continue to lose. Hatred and fear are not a valid or a responsible means to an end. They are just the end.

Our country deserves better than this. No matter what party one supports, we should all take strong action to support civil, honest, and respectful public debate.

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