Apr 16, 2011

Racism: a Clarification and Defense

So.  A few minutes ago I made a post in which I asserted that: "what the Tea Party is, has always been, and always will be about" is race.  My case, broadly stated, was this:
The first black man got elected President. Thousands of white people took to the streets yelling about taking their country back while shouting racist dog-whistles and attacking the fourteenth amendment.
That, in a nutshell, is why I believe that what can only be termed the virulent backlash against the Obama presidency is motivated largely by the color of his skin.

Rather than defend that notion both on my Facebook and the comments section, I might as well take it up here.

I would clarify that assertion with two points: first, that it is perfectly possible to disagree with and even vote against the president without being racist: my accusation of racism is made for the specific reasons that I state--it does not apply to those to whom those reasons do not apply, and disagreeing with Obama on policy is not among those reasons.  Second, that I used the term 'Tea Party' as a general-purpose stand-in for the aforementioned backlash.  This is not inaccurate

With that made clear, I stand by what I said.

In making that case, I would bolster it with video such as this.

As for the demographic assertion, the representation of blacks among 'Tea Party supporters' is ~half that of the population at large (6% v. 11%).  I'm not sure how loosely they classify 'supporter' (it seems to be something like 'holds a favorable view of' rather than 'actively participates').  But if you wish some independent confirmation that the Tea Party is largely white, then do a google image search for 'Tea Party crowd shot' or something similar and play spot-the-minority.  The people actually out there holding the signs are, by and large, white.

As for the rhetoric, well they really are coming out against the fourteenth amendment.

They really are talking about taking their country back--violently, at that.

They really are going on about "states' rights", and "states' rights" really has been a racist dog-whistle since the days of Calhoun.

Throw in the conspiracies theories about illegitimacy (ie, birtherism), the anti-colonial/anti-Kenyan meme, the accompanying attacks on the rights of other brown people, the fears of his radical black pastor and subsequent accusations of being a muslim.  For the people who indulge in that sort of rhetoric and belief, those factors will admit of no other conclusion than race as a strong motivating factor--indeed, the STRONGEST motivating factor.

Now, I honestly don't think that racism is the SOLE motivating factor here--the mendacious demagogues who (mis)lead the Right would still be bile-spewing liars whether Obama was black or white.  But racism and tribalism remain a real energizing factor within this mindset, and having such a visible Other in the white house has served to reveal just how deeply crazy and hateful they are.

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