Apathy v. Racism

What follows is, more or less, a comment I posted on the now-epic Tea Party and Race post.  I am turning it into a separate post (1) because I think it is a conundrum worth exploring and (2) that comment section may be a bit unwieldy at this point.

…As for the federal Civil Rights Act and expressions of malcontent with said Act… well, my opinion is that intent only matters to a certain degree – at some point you have to address results. In other words, one can philosophize all day long about the nobles ideas behind one’s opinion, but noble ideas don’t trump results.

So, if the ‘noble idea’ that you are espousing is no federal governmental intrusion, but a lack/repeal of federal gov’t intrusion would result in some state’s infringing upon the basic federal rights of some of the citizens, you don’t get a [total] pass [on the actual results of the implication of said idea]. This kind of ‘let them eat cake’ mentality simply doesn’t work in reality.

It’s all well and good to say that people should not shit on each other; but I think we all have to agree (or maybe just those of us in certain areas) that *if* the federal government were not “intruding,” our kind would not be welcome. And by “our kind” I mean whatever particular group/belief/etc that is pilloried for simply trying to exercise the same rights as everyone else.

And don’t get me wrong – I still hold a serious thing for Libertarianism. We were very close for a long time, and even though we have parted ways, I would like to think that we are still friends. I just realized that it wasn’t me; it was everyone else. As I moved through education and from the service industry to the professional industry, I realized that but for federal protection of federal rights, those rights would be utterly meaningless.

And if we allowed a “patchwork” approach on nationwide interests like public education, we would only see the poor states get poorer and less educated while the rich got richer. And we would not be a Union in any sense of the word because we would self-segregate faster than you can say the Pledge of Allegiance.

… I should make it clear that I do not think [a person is] a racist; I don’t think [their] position is racist, and I don’t think [their] statements can be interpreted as racist [simply because they are advocating a stance that the Federal Gov’t has no business enacting legislation regarding civil rights].

I think there is a space between racists and people actively advocating for equality, though. And while I don’t believe in a my way or the highway/you agree with me or you are a racist approach, I *do* believe that people in the middle should be aware that sometimes their stance encourages and supports a status quo that is not equal for all people. Again, this doesn’t mean that they are racist, but it may mean that something they support – for whatever reason – will likely have a disparate/unfair impact on people who are already generally in a weaker bargaining position.

If I Would Have Known You Were Coming, I Wouldn't Have Eaten the Whole Damn Cake.

Wall Street v. Main Street

[this post and comments are directed overflow from the ‘Tea Party and Race’ post and comments found here]

One of the key TEA Party Movement (TPM) issues is “smaller” federal government. Another complaint common to both the TPM and people in general is the slew of financial bailouts.  Right now, as most of you know, Congress is currently attempting to tack financial reform. My questions, then are these:

(1).  What do you think cause the current crisis?

(2). What do you think is the proper remedy?

(3).  What do you think is the proper approach going forward?

(4).  How important do you think a “free market” is to American society specifically? To any society?

(5).  How “free” do you think our market truly is?


I don't know why I posted this picture...

The TEA Party Movement and Race

I would like to open up a discussion on the TEA Party Movement (hereinafter “TPM”) and race.  Before we get started, let me first say that discussing race in the context of the TPM is not, in any way saying that the TPM is racist.  Every time that the questions regarding race and the TPM are asked, the answers in defense of the TPM are, almost unfailingly, that (1) there is no proof of racism and/or (2) the asker is racist for simply asking the question. Please note that neither of these responses are actual answers to the questions that I am about to ask. I also don’t really want to hear about other movements or administrations – I am looking ONLY at the TPM.  I simply want to discuss race and whether or not it matters in the context of the TPM.

In order to get a discourse going, let’s lay out a few basic parameters and assume the following to be true:

(A).  The TPM is disproportionately made up of non-Hispanic whites.  I understand some people will disagree with this; however all polls that I have looked at estimate the non-Hispanic white demographics in the TPM  to be anywhere from 79% to 89%.  The corresponding numbers for non-Hispanic white US citizens in general is 75%.

(B).  There have been some incidents of racism in connection with the TPM.  This means ONLY that there have been specific examples of either overt racism or racial insensitivity either at TPM events or voiced by TPM-identified people. “Some” is intentionally vague. But there have been “some.”

(C).  There is a perception that the TPM has a problem with race.

(D).  The TPM as repeatedly stated that it is a diverse group and that all people are welcome.

Bearing in mind (A) through (D), I would like to pose some initial questions.

(1).  Do you think that it is appropriate to even discuss race in the context of the TPM? Why or why not?

(2).  Why do you think that there are not more non-whites in the TPM?

(3).  What do you think about MSM coverage of the TPM?

(4).  How do you think the TPM should handle allegations of racial insensitivity?

(5).  How do issues of race affect how you feel about the TPM?

(6).  Do you think that the TPM would have gotten so much support if McCain had been elected president? Why or why not?

(7).  Please share any *actual* personal experiences that you have had with the TPM.

So let’s discuss.  Please keep it respectful.  Cookies for all…

Cookies of Discourse

Any Teabagger Apologists Out There?

From HuffPo:

Abusive, derogatory and even racist behavior directed at House Democrats by Tea Party protesters on Saturday left several lawmakers in shock.

Preceding the president’s speech to a gathering of House Democrats, thousands of protesters descended around the Capitol to protest the passage of health care reform. The gathering quickly turned into abusive heckling, as members of Congress passing through Longworth House office building were subjected to epithets and even mild physical abuse.

A staffer for Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.) told reporters that Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.) had been spat on by a protestor. Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), a hero of the civil rights movement, was called a ‘ni–er.’ And Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) was called a “faggot,” as protestors shouted at him with deliberately lisp-y screams. Frank, approached in the halls after the president’s speech, shrugged off the incident.

But Clyburn was downright incredulous, saying he had not witnessed such treatment since he was leading civil rights protests in South Carolina in the 1960s.

“It was absolutely shocking to me,” Clyburn said, in response to a question from the Huffington Post. “Last Monday, this past Monday, I stayed home to meet on the campus of Claflin University where fifty years ago as of last Monday… I led the first demonstrations in South Carolina, the sit ins… And quite frankly I heard some things today I have not heard since that day. I heard people saying things that I have not heard since March 15, 1960 when I was marching to try and get off the back of the bus.”

“It doesn’t make me nervous as all,” the congressman said, when asked how the mob-like atmosphere made him feel. “In fact, as I said to one heckler, I am the hardest person in the world to intimidate, so they better go somewhere else.”

Anyone want to tell me how this shit is “patriotic,” “brave,” or “free-thinking?”

Still want to tell me how the TEA movement is fundamentally a grass roots movement of intellectuals frustrated about Constitutional affronts?


‘Cause it looks to me like a bunch of homophobes/racists/bigots afraid of losing their majority ‘might makes right’ control. And if you AREN’T a homophobic racist bigot, you might want to rethink your bunkmates.

Just sayin’.

Not Buying It.

Me? I Prefer Coffee.

So, in a recent discussion with some relatives, I unthinkingly used the word ‘teabaggers.’ Unthinkingly, because (1) even though these relatives are fairly conservative and (2) I generally heavily self-edit my comments around them, (3) I was pretty out of it and that particular filter wasn’t working. But really, I find it good practice to NOT use interesting sexual terms OR politically-charged language around some of my relatives. See. e.g., here, here and here. This, of course, offended two birds with one stone. But this biggest shocker (oops) wasn’t my verbal slip, but the realization that – brace yourselves – my relatives might actually be of the teabag carrying ilk.

So, the story …  For context, they were taking me to the hospital and decided that this was the perfect time to inform me that they were getting a bumper sticker proclaiming their desire to ‘vote ’em all out.’ Perhaps just to ensure that if by some bizarre chance I failed to make it through a routine procedure, at least I would have died knowing that they really REALLY hate Obama and Congress.

So with a fair amount of nervous laughter, I groggily replied, ‘Oh dear, you aren’t TEA party people now, are you?’  And from there the conversation immediately devolved into an utterly fruitless absence of listening with righteous indignation on one side and confusion and dismay on the other.  You can guess which side was mine. At any rate, I was pretty stunned when the ensuing “conversation” made it clear that said relatives were, if not actual TEApartiers, at least ardent supporters of general teabaggery. I am fully aware that these relatives have drifted further and further right, but I had NO idea that they had gone that kind of right.

Still thinking that perhaps this was just a hunger-induced aural hallucination, I tried to minimize my horror with what I hoped would be a very neutral favorable comment about libertarians, and teabaggers taking over the libertarian party.  Yes, I said ‘teabaggers,’ so it wasn’t exactly a neutral comment.  But I hadn’t slept in days, so tact wasn’t exactly foremost in my mind. And I didn’t start this shit. And at that point I didn’t realize that they might actually be on board with the TEAparty agenda and wrongly assumed that they would think it as ridiculous and potentially dangerous as I.

Anyhow, I immediately said ‘I apologize, I shouldn’t call them ‘teabaggers.’ But alas, it was too late.  Relative A had already started in with the liberals and their awfulness, and Janeane Garofalo made up the ‘teabag’ moniker, and then Relative B joined in with the how dare you insult them, they are “good, hard-working Americans.” I pointed out that they picked the name, but by that point no one was listening. Except, unfortunately, for me.

While A appeared to be enthusiastic about the TEA party agenda, B seemed reluctant to commit. Or perhaps B just wanted to argue. It’s a common family trait; I get it. B said that he just wants better candidates and has decided that he doesn’t like incumbents. I can relate. However, I observed that you can find whatever candidate you want, but you need to find someone who can win. Which means that person has to have the support of a group with money and power. Something about which I know just a little.

And I stated that I could never support a candidate put up by the TEAparty, as the TEApeople specifically wanted candidates that reflected “Christian” values – which seemed both inarguable and inoffensive. But apparently I was wrong. B angrily insisted I was ‘making things up’ about the TEA party and demanded I provide proof of my spurious and outrageous comments.  Righteous indignation, meet confusion.

(An aside: am I the only one who thinks that Fox News has riled people up to the point that “liberals” don’t even have to SAY ANYTHING in order to offend conservatives? They just assume that everything I am saying is rude, false, accusatory, elitist, and part of some major liberal agenda to deride and destroy everything that is “good” and “American ™.” Even when I haven’t said anything at all. Sadly, I didn’t realize until this particular incident that, to these relatives, I had become “them.” And there is a reciprocity there that I am powerless to disarm when no one listens to what I am saying.)

At any rate, as much as I *heart* supporting citation and precedent, I didn’t exactly have the means to provide sufficient documentation for my assertion. And I don’t have any awesome technopathic powers whereby I can verbally hyperlink as I talk. So I couldn’t provide B with the proof right there in the sedan on the way to the hospital. But assured him I had spent enough time blogging, trolling the webs, attending political functions, talking to TEA party folk and READING to feel fairly confident in my simple statement that “TEA party people want extremely conservative candidates who espouse Christian ethics in politics.” B basically told me I was full of shit.

But, if I DID have some totally bitchin technopathic power, I would have pointed to this guy, who heads up the local TEA events, and he has posted here about how they want uber conservative moral majority-type Republicans. And he isn’t the only one – all kinds of heavy-hitting Conservative groups are backing this *ahem* “grassroots” movement. It seems clear to me that what the TEA party folk really want is uber-conservative moral majority-type Republicans like themselves.

But, of course, I didn’t. I just let it go, and tried to close my eyes and think of America. These are relatives and I need to be able to respect them. And if they decided that the TEA movement is for them, well … that is their choice. But it bothers me on a fundamental level. Because even though most TEAfolk will try to tell you that this is not a partisan thing, I am pretty sure it is quite partisan and quite conservative. And then there is the ugliness. I think it is UTTERLY irrefutable that the TEAgroups are now the happy home of many far-right christian conservatives, multiphobes, bigots, and paranoids. They will also try to tell you it isn’t about Obama (but for some it is), or race (but for some it is), or abortion (but for some it is).


And yes, I know that the signs don’t speak for everyone, but why would you choose to join people like that? How can you stand next to someone who is shouting about birth certificates and nazis and muslims? If you don’t feel the same way as the bigots and the paranoids, you can either ignore them or fight them; but by standing with them, don’t you think that you are validating the bigotry and insanity? Or, at the very least, you are saying that the bigotry and paranoia doesn’t matter. Hello, de minimus argument. All I will say is that to the objects of the bigotry and paranoia, it is pretty de maximus.

And while I fully respect the individual’s right to find a candidate that speaks for them, at the end of the day that candidate speaks for everyone in their district and answers to the people that elected him or her. And we don’t get the luxury to ignore the things we don’t agree like. If you support a candidate that has been given the imprimatur of the TEApeople, then you are supporting someone who reflects THEIR views and goals.

If fiscal issues are more important to you than human rights and social issues, that is fine but know that the days where the two were utterly unconnected are long gone. The single-issue people (abortion), the “Christian Values” people (marriage is man + woman, prayer back in schools, abortion, ID), and the multiphobes (immigration and border enforcement, anti-civil rights, anti-welfare, anti-Obama, anti-environmental) want the Republican party for themselves – even if they have to leave the party to do it.

And if you thought you could get around them by joining the Libertarians or the TEA people, you might want to take a quick look around you. They have beat you there.

Separation of Church and State