March 21, 2010

The Tea Party bigotry

Most have heard about the Tea Partiers shouting racial and homophobic epithets at members of congress. I remember conservative friends telling me that Tea Partiers were no more racist than any other groups. Perhaps. But when I see them join together at Town Halls or in Washington, their hatred tends to come out. Protestors held signs threatening violence if the healthcare bill passes, and used the now ubiquitous signs equating Obama with your pick of socialist/Nazi/witch doctor. My conservative friend tells me that these are just people who are frustrated with not being heard.

Yeah, right.

These are people who can't be bothered to address facts--who can say stuff like "keep your government out of my medicare" and can firmly believe that Obama wants to kill old people. These are the people calling Barney Frank a "faggot" and, unless I misunderstand it, threatening Obama's life:
"Standing next to Lewis, emerging from a Democratic caucus meeting with President Obama, Carson said people in the crowd yelled, 'kill the bill and then the N-word' several times, while he and Lewis were exiting the Cannon House office building."


Tomasky suggests that many, if not most of these Tea Partiers are not personally racist, but suggests that the psychology of the mass political movement can create that kind of hatred at a movement level.

And Benen passes on an email from a hill staffer telling their experience yesterday. Tea Partiers acting stupid and littering the grounds of the capitol--all the logical conclusion of 30 years of embracing the hatred of government. How in the hell do people who claim to be the ultimate Patriots justify treating their own democracy this way? This same staffer believes we are witnessing the death of Movement Conservatism.
Conservatism will never die (nor should it) and arguably the Democratic plan is conservative in the little c sense by keeping and enriching all the entrenched players.

But Movement Conservatism is definitely dying. You know the kind that thinks a .07 increase in the Medicare tax for those making over 100k ruins America's competitiveness but double-digit inflation in health care costs doesn't. Or 400Billion in tax cuts and another 300 billion investments in infrastructure is something to rally against rather than a major legislative victory.

Or the Movement Conservatism that blows a gasket because the cost of two wars are accounted for rather than being done off-budget. Or, hell, the Movement Conservatism that objects to PAY-GO legislation.

I wonder if I was watching people's worldviews breakdown before their eyes. And they had nothing left but to name call, spit and litter as a form of futile and immature protest.

Let's hope. It is incredibly hard to see the positive in such unhinged, and uninformed protest. Benen asks about the Republican outrage, but we have been down this road far too many times. The mantra of "extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice" seems to have clouded the judgement of otherwise moral and ethical Republicans. People who would never shout at anyone in public and who would have no respect for me if I did so--somehow nod along or look away as people shout hatred and bigotry at their elected officials. People who cringe at the history of racism, somehow just turn away from Tea Partiers shouting "kill the "n-word."

Long past time for the Grownups to take the reins of the GOP. Long past. Long past the time for moral and ethical people to retake the party from the Beck and Malkin fans, and restore some kind of rational discussion.

I am still waiting. But I am not holding my breath.


steves said...

In the interest of full disclosure, I am not a tea partier, nor will I ever be. I also don't personally know anyone that self-identifies with that group. I have no doubt that some are racist, but I think that cherry picking signs from a protest is not always a good indicator of what is generally found in a group. I remember seeing Bush/Nazi comparisons in any kind of protest. Did that mean that any disagreement with him was cloaked in ridiculous hyperbole?

Of course, this doesn't excuse the idiots shouting nasty stuff or the morons who think he is a marxist.

Streak said...

I think the reports coming out from yesterday's rally suggests more bad behavior than just a few outliers. This is what anti-government types have stoked, Steve. They have preached the sermon of "government is evil" (unless Republicans are in charge) and now we reap the whirlwind.

And take away the racist and homophobic slurs, and you still have an uneducated and seemingly proudly ignorant movement of anger. Hard to really respect any of it.

steves said...

I will agree that there isn't much to the tea partiers except populist hyperbole. I don't see this lasting. The next time a Republican gets back into office, they will go back to cheerleading.

Monk-in-Training said...

I do know some self identified tea party types, Steve. They are some of the nicest, Christian people you ever want to talk with, UNLESS you discuss politics.

Then they morph into some of the most ghastly, unChristian, rude, scary, racist, dangerous people I have ever talked with. I have actually had to tell one to leave my office for making dangerous comments about shooting 'you know who'. When I confronted him about the illegality of what he was saying, he backed down.

I think that Fox News, Talk Radio, et al has given them 'permission' or perhaps has even helped create this attitude in them. It is not that uncommon around here, and they are told they are threatened and that the people 'in charge' of the country are dangerous, baby killers and ruining our Nation. Over and over they hear this.

This is designed to sell more ads for "sleep number beds" (as David Frum says) but it is creating a radical, dangerous element in our culture.

steves said...

Wow, that is pretty scary MIT. I don't know how you handle that. I have had some passionate discussions with some people, but it usually stays fairly calm.