Tuesday, July 20, 2010

What If the TEA Party was a Black 'Movement'?

Believe it or not, I do converse with people across the political, ideological spectrum. I have friends who are far more liberal and radical than I. I also have friends whose perspective is more conservative. I think its important to not simply talk into an echo chamber.

Ed Gray is one of those friends whose perspectives are a little more conservative than mine, and whose viewpoints tend to be a little more tempered. He recently included in his weekend blog his perspective on the recent NAACP resolution calling on TEA Party leaders to purge their movement of its more racist elements. Of course the way a number of high level TEA party leaders dealt with this was to feign victimization, squint their eyes and point an accusatory finger back at the NAACP and cry, 'You too!', 'You too!'.
There were appeals to the authority of Ronald Reagan, the unimpeachable goodness of TEA Party followers and the inevitable search to find African-Americans who were also TEA Party sympathizers (as if showing that black people believe in the principles they stand for their couldn't possibly be racists in their midst. Which make people carrying semi-automatic weapons, effigies of Obama, placards that show him as Hitler, or a menacing Joker are all figments of our collective imagination).

Gray's perspective is correct: not all TEA Party members are racist. Nearly every movement like this has true believers in it who are sincerely committed to its first principles. At their best, movements like the TEA Party can serve to keep a country honest. No democracy like ours should give unfettered and unquestioning support to its leaders. I may believe that there are areas where Obama's policies haven't gone far enough. There needs to be a countervailing point of view that serves as a warning that we do not go too far. It's called a loyal opposition. It has its place.

But movements like the TEA Party can be tainted, even hijacked by people with less than seemly motives. And the epithets, effigies and egregious expressions of racism should not be ignored by its leaders. The 'we can't control the people on the fringes' drivel, has not been rejoined soundly enough by media or by other political leaders. And, yes, Republican leaders, the soap selling entertainer pundits who are playing TEA Party leaders like a fiddle, could actually condemn and bring to ridicule other politicians and attendees who bring shameful posters and banners and encourage them to start their own movement. Instead, by pretending to ignore them, while ratcheting up the rhetoric with more red meat, they give the impression that these people are welcome and will soon, 'get their party back'.

Yes, the NAACP was right to call for the TEA Party to deal with and dismiss those racists from their ranks; no, the NAACP is not racist and its ridiculous to make such a claim - the rank and file of the NAACP AND their supporters is far more racially and ethnically diverse than that of the TEA Party and has been for more than a century; and no, tempering the presence of these racists at TEA Party conventions and rallies by saying, '...we hear these things from both sides...' is neither helpful or courageous. I saw no one bringing semi-automatic weapons to appearances with George W. Bush; no one referred to his appearances with children as 'threats to democracy' or injurious to children; I never saw posters with Bush depicted as Hitler; and I never saw jeering, haranguing crowds lining the pathway to Congress being totally rude, threatening and uncivil as congressmen and women walked to the Capitol, with colleagues urging them on from above. This is different and everyone trying to make an excuse for the unconscionable atmosphere accompanying these gatherings know it.

If you don't think there's a difference read this excerpt from Ed's blog, from a letter he received and be honest about the image it evokes in your mind...

"Let’s play a game, shall we? The name of the game is called “Imagine.” The way it’s played is simple: we’ll envision recent happenings in the news, but then change them up a bit. Instead of envisioning white people as the main actors in the scenes we’ll conjure - the ones who are driving the action - we’ll envision black folks or other people of color instead. The object of the game is to imagine the public reaction to the events or incidents, if the main actors were of color, rather than white...."

"Imagine that hundreds of black protesters were to descend upon Washington DC and Northern Virginia, just a few miles from the Capitol and White House, armed with AK-47s, assorted handguns, and ammunition. And imagine that some of these protesters —the black protesters — spoke of the need for political revolution, and possibly even armed conflict in the event that laws they didn’t like were enforced by the government? Would these protester — these black protesters with guns — be seen as brave defenders of the Second Amendment, or would they be viewed by most as a danger to the republic? ..."

"Imagine that white members of Congress, while walking to work, were surrounded by thousands of angry black people, one of whom proceeded to spit on one of those congressmen for not voting the way the black demonstrators desired. Would the protesters be seen as merely patriotic Americans voicing their opinions, or as an angry, potentially violent, and even insurrectionary mob? After all, this is what white Tea Party protesters did in Washington."

Again, Ed's more tempered reasoning is spot on: neither I, nor any thinking individual believe that all TEA Party members are racist - nor did the NAACP say they were - but the TEA Party attracts, is attractive to, draws or is drawn by an ugly element in our country that clouds the argument it is trying to make. Every movement like this is bound to have its day. But that's in the short run. In the long run, though, the images we will remember are the images it tries to dodge without strong disavowal. And that is what will bring it to an end in the long run.


Anonymous said...

I heard that thousands of dollars was offered for proof of racist comments. With everyone having a camera on their cell phone, not one instance was recorded.

Incidentally, what do you think of the intimidation of voters by the Black Panthers? It was not even reported by the "mainstream media." Imagine if the KKK did the same???

Gerald Britt said...

Ok - I'm going to assume you're serious, just born after 1985.

The KKK DID do the same. That's one of the reasons why we had the modern day civil rights movement. And during those days, there was no ambiguity, literally no question, that the DOJ would not fairly enforce the law.

Anonymous said...

I'm talking about what if the KKK did that today.(Of course you knew what I was talking about)

And I think you know the NAACP is the most racist organization on planet earth.

Of course the racist signs were probably planted by the opposition.

Gerald Britt said...

Ok,seriously,you can't believe any of what you're saying. I have my own issues with the NAACP, but I'll match the diversity of that organization with that of the TEA Party ANY day of the week. Not only today, but in its 101 year history. It's obvious you're just buying into the ridiculous tripe that's been thrown out over the past couple of weeks.

And as for the signs...oh, never mind. That's not worthy of a response.

Paradise Gray said...

What if the Tea Party was Black? Jasiri X


A few months ago, Tim Wise wrote a widely circulated article called, "Imagine if the Tea Party Was Black " which challenged America to take a close look at the hypocrisy of the Right Wing. Now, a Pittsburgh rapper is accepting his challenge in true Hip Hop form. Jasiri X has released a video called "What if the Tea Party was Black." The Hip Hop artist says that he got the idea when Paradise,a member of the pro-black rap group X-Clan, forwarded him a copy of Wise's article. "I saw the article and I liked the concept," says the rapper. So Jasiri hit the studio with producer Cynik Lethal while Paradise grabbed his video camera and they went on their mission to defeat the Right Wing propaganda machine.

Anonymous said...

Let's play "imagine" some more. What if some whites were to intimadate black voters at the polling place and it was not even mentioned in the "major media?" And what if the Attorney General didn't think it was important enough to even investigate?

The fact is, you cannot prove the tea party people acted rude and racist. If one could, they would have a tidy sum of money.

It's easy to see that the NAACP is racist because they had Jeremiah Wright speak and also because they tar and feather everyone else as racist.

Gerald Britt said...

Again, that is indeed the history of the work of the Civil Rights Movement.

The idea of 'proving' that the TEA Party is racist is an evasion. The fact is they are VERY late to the party in repudiating the facism that has been a part of the atmosphere of many of their meetings. If the NAACP is 'racist' because they invited Jeremiah Wright to speak, how is the TEA Party not racist because they had Tom Tencrado speak?

It is a very interesting intimidation tactic to try identify as racist because the person or group identifies racial problems or instances of racism.

Anonymous said...

Rev, you ole clown you. Either the posters in your pix were photoshoped or a few of your fellow Alinksyites are posing in the crowd.BTW , how do you know the tea party movement is facist? Is it from the Dem daily talking points or have you been attending?
No racism in the NAACP? Can you say Shirley Sherrod?

Gerald Britt said...

It's always interesting how some of you can twist what you read.

I never said the TEA Party was 'facist', I said that they attract 'racists'.

Again, the choice to ignore what has been seen all over the country, as well as NAACP's work and history is equally astounding. But I realize that we have now uncovered the segment of the population determined not to let their opinions be obscured by either the truth or the facts.

Anonymous said...

Well then how do you know the Tea Party attracts racists;from the dem taking points or from your attendance at the Tea Party movements, or perhaps you could fall back on the cliche "everybody knows it"?