On the eve of its national convention in Nashville, Tennessee, Rich Benjamin said that the "Tea Party ethos" disguises racial resentments under a mask of anti-federalism and tax concerns and "is a direct descendant of the anti-tax segregationist politics that swept the South in the 1950s and '60s," Benjamin said. -- "In Tea Party-speak, 'heartland' often means 'white' -- what Palin calls 'the real America' -- while 'coastal state' means the urbanized communities that teem with racial minorities, doubling as 'gateway states' for Latino immigrants," Benjamin said. -- Rebutting this claim on Wednesday was Lloyd Marcus, a black American who wrote the Tea Party anthem "Twenty Ten." -- That ditty (see the link below to Marcus singing it at Washington, D.C., in September) denounces "this socialist nightmare" and brags of "taking the House and Senate in 2010." -- Wrote Marcus: "As to the claim that the tea party protesters are racist, they are not. Quite the opposite. At every rally, with thousands in attendance, I was overwhelmingly showered with affection and thanks for standing up for America." -- (Another black Tea Partyer, Mason Weaver, also addressed the same rally, exhorting the crowd to individualist self-reliance. -- "This about socialism," Weaver said.) -- There is nothing little new in this debate. -- Back in April 2009, 45-year-old actress/activist Janeane Garofalo riled the right Tea Partyers when she proclaimed on MSNBC they are "a bunch of racists" and invoked evolutionary psychology to explain them. ...
News & politics
WHITE RACIAL RESENTMENT BUBBLES UNDER THE SURFACE OF THE TEA PARTY MOVEMENT
By Rich Benjamin
** The simmering movement is the whitest phenomenon on the national scene, evident not just in its Caucasian numbers but in the bedrock beliefs stirring its anti-government contempt. **
February 5, 2010
--Editor's Note: Rich Benjamin's commentary on the underlying "white grievance" currents in the Tea Party movement were buttressed Thursday by the statements of Republican Tom Tancredo, the opening speaker at the Tea Party convention. Tancredo told attendees that President Barack Obama was elected because "we do not have a civics, literacy test before people can vote in this country," an allusion to how Southern states used literacy tests as part of an effort to deny suffrage to African American voters before the civil rights era.
The Tea Party movement, holding its first convention this weekend, is angling to be the most revolutionary force in American politics, in name and in deed, since at least the 1960s counterculture. Only this time, the political insurgents command a party of Flour Power, not flower power.
The simmering movement is the whitest phenomenon on the national scene, evident not just in the millions of Caucasians committed to its cause, but in the bedrock beliefs stirring its anti-government contempt.
How fitting, therefore, that Sarah Palin keynote the movement's first organized confab. Neglected in all the fevered conversation around the movement's meteoric rise, and Palin's selection, is any useful reflection on what the cause and this figurehead stand for: white racial resentment. Packed beneath her beehive is a spitfire brew of optimistic, yet aggrieved, whiteness. Palin embodies a bizarre, sometimes alluring, combination of triumph and complaint that many Caucasian Tea Partiers identify with through and through.
Deciphering the racial codes on the movement's ubiquitous placards does not require a doctorate in semiotics. One popular sign shows the president's face and a caption: "Undocumented worker." Another combines Obama's image with this caption: "The Zoo Has an African Lion and the White House Has a Lyin' African!"
Aside from the festive, ad hominem attacks against President Obama, the Tea Party's leaders and its rank-and-file rarely mention race in debate, instead tucking it just under the surface of "nonracial" issues like health care reform, public spending, immigration, and pointedly, taxes.
Palin voices the right-wing drumbeat warning Americans that "government is on your back" and "you should keep your own money." Alongside other avid Tea Party supporters like Tom Tancredo and Glenn Beck, Palin gins-up conservative whites' existing resentment over race, carping over the "high taxes" for public services assumed to be wasted on "illegals" and minorities.
Denouncing government assistance and free school lunches at a town hall meeting in late January, South Carolina Lieutenant Governor Andre Bauer, a Tea Party supporter, said: "My grandmother was not a highly educated woman, but she told me as a small child to quit feeding stray animals. You know why? Because they breed. You're facilitating the problem if you give an animal or a person ample food supply. They will reproduce, especially ones that don't think too much further than that."
At a Tea Party rally in Boone County, Kentucky (roughly 92 percent non-Hispanic white), Congressman Geoff Davis called cap-and-trade legislation "economic colonization of the hardworking states that produce the energy, the food, and the manufactured goods of the heartland, to take that and pay for social programs in the large coastal states." In Tea Party-speak, "heartland" often means "white" -- what Palin calls "the real America" -- while "coastal state" means the urbanized communities that teem with racial minorities, doubling as "gateway states" for Latino immigrants.
"Immigrants are 21 percent of the uninsured, but only 7 percent of the population. This means white folks on Medicare or headed there will see benefits curtailed, while new arrivals from the Third World, whence almost all immigrants come, get taxpayer-subsidized health insurance," gripes Patrick Buchanan on his blog. "Any wonder why all those Tea Party and town-hall protests seem to be made up of angry white folks?"
The Tea Party movement ventures a nasty turn from classic economic liberalism to white-hot anger.
The bar-stool version of the Tea Party canard goes like this: Why should we, self-sufficient small-town whites, pay taxes to support all those welfare queens, food stamp cheats, and Medicaid layabouts in the big cities and coastal states? The media's version, parroted by Palin and other Fox talking heads, commiserates with Americans in the heartland, christened "the average taxpayer," for unjustly having to subsidize ethnic enclaves that mooch off the national treasury.
Well, not so fast. A disproportionately high share of our federal government's tax income comes from racially diverse, immigrant-rich, urbanized states, including California, Illinois, New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts; not from extremely homogeneous, conservative, anti-tax strongholds like Idaho, Montana, Utah, the Dakotas, and Wyoming.
All of this is not to say that any given rank-and-file member of the movement personally despises racial minorities. Rather, the Tea Party ethos is a direct descendant of the anti-tax segregationist politics that swept the South in the 1950s and '60s.
Before the Tea Party's debut, a whole generation of powerful southern Republicans propelled their careers through a conservative tax-cutting, privatizing, "free-enterprise" politics that remains wildly popular in America's white outer suburbs and exurbs: Lee Atwater (GA), Newt Gingrich (GA), Dick Armey (GA), Tom DeLay (TX), Karl Rove (AL, TX), and George W. Bush. These suburban and exurban Republicans intimately understood their constituents' disdain for court-ordered desegregation. They fueled the rising mania for "individual freedom," "privatization," "states' rights," and social homogeneity that once defined their Southern home turf and now defines the Tea Party.
To pernicious effect, white Tea Partiers cloak themselves in the anachronistic rights-based outlook fine-tuned by '60s-era women and minorities. What's the difference between Sarah Palin and Al Sharpton? Lipstick. Pay closer attention: Palin is quite like the Baptist preacher from Harlem, only paler. Sharpton's exurb-lovin', carpoolin', straight-talkin' doppleganger has her hands tied fightin' for an aggrieved "silent majority" -- or is it a vocal soon-to-be racial minority? By 2050, non-Hispanic whites will be less than half the population.
"Tea Party Nation is a user-driven group of like-minded people who desire our God given Individual Freedoms which were written out by the Founding Fathers," according to the convention's Web site. Tea Partiers will bend your ear about "freedom from government" or their "Hunters' and Fishers' Bill of Rights." This white-inflected rights-based outlook champions individual and neighborhood "freedoms," withdrawn from the common nation, preoccupied by private interest, poised to behave according to private caprice. Tea Partiers contrive the right to live, make money, own property, zone neighborhoods, or protest taxes at will, without regard to the common good, a troublesome offshoot of rights-based agitprop.
Race is the subtext of now-potent populist appeals to whites, who feel battered from a tsunami of economic and cultural change. The Tea Party counterculture is waging a proxy war over race during America's rapidly shifting economy and demographic makeup.
The Tea Party is sounding a siren call of aspiration and a primal scream of resentment -- a whoop to Flour Power.
--Rich Benjamin is the author of *Searching for Whitopia: An Improbable Journey to the Heart of White America*. He is senior fellow at the nonpartisan think tank Demos and sits on the board of the Roosevelt Institution. His commentary is featured on NPR and Fox Radio, and in newspapers nationwide.
BLACK TEA PARTY EXPRESS TOUR MEMBER EXPERIENCED RACISM
By Lloyd Marcus
February 10, 2010
I traveled on the Tea Party Express tour bus as a singer/songwriter, entertainer and spokesperson; 16 states, 34 rallies in two weeks. I experienced vicious racial verbal attacks, not from the tea party protesters . The racial hate expressed against me all came from the left, people who support President Obama's radial socialist agenda.
Unfortunately, my deleted email box is littered with numerous messages expressing the following:
"You are the dumbest self hating f****** n***** I have ever seen!"
These racists are outraged by my opening lines I boldly proclaimed at each rally. "Hello my fellow patriots! I am NOT an African-American! I am Lloyd Marcus, AMERCIAN!"
At every rally, my proclamation inspired great applause and cheers of joy and approval from the audiences. After each rally many came to me with tears in their eyes. They said, "I thank you from the bottom of my heart for what you said. I am Irish (or Italian, or Asian) American. And yet, I would never hyphenate. I feel hyphening divides us. While it is fine to honor one's origin, let's all be American first."
The tea party audience's passionate response to my proclamation was a surprise to me. I did not know so many Americans disapproved of hyphenating pushed on us via political correctness.
I rejected hyphenating years ago. One day I woke up and heard I was no longer black, I was African American. Anyone rejecting the new term was called ignorant, insensitive, and an Uncle Tom -- if you are black. Not intending to be provocative or controversial, I casually stated that I am not a hyphenated American, but simply an American at a tea party. The audience's cheers of approval were surprising and heartwarming.
[Editor's note: See also "Why I am no longer an African-American", published on 9/12, the day Lloyd performed in D.C.]
As I said, I am a singer, songwriter, entertainer, and columnist using my gifts to spread the message that conservatism is best for all Americans. Liberals' response to my YouTube videos, columns, and performances on the Tea Party Express have been extremely racist, vicious, and hate-filled. In their incredible arrogance, they vilify me for loving my country and not viewing myself as a victim of white America. In the sick minds of liberals, as a black man in America, I must support President Obama regardless of his policies. I must resent white America. I must feel entitled to the earnings of other Americans. My belief that my success or failure is totally in the hands of myself and my God is anathema to them.
As to the claim that the tea party protesters are racist, they are not. Quite the opposite. At every rally, with thousands in attendance, I was overwhelmingly showered with affection and thanks for standing up for America. At one rally, a sign read, "Lloyd Lloyd for presidentMarcus for President." These protesters are not racist. They are decent hard working ordinary Americans who love their country and disapprove of the radical changes planned by the Obama administration. Race is not an issue with them. They have deep concerns for their country.
Disgustingly, Obama-ites use race to silence the protesters. They know it is an effective weapon to use against decent people. Ironically, the people the Obam-ites call racist are the same people who hate hyphenating. They want to be united as Americans.
The grand finale of the Tea Party Express Tour took place Saturday, September 12 in Washington D.C. at the U.S. Capitol. I performed my song, Twenty Ten. The crowd of over a million loved it. C-Span posted my performance on YouTube. Shamefully, C-Span had to delete the hate-filled racist comments posted by Obama supporters in response to my performance. Why do so-called tolerant and compassionate liberals think it is O.K. to freely use the "N" word when referring to blacks who escape the "liberal plantation"?
Despite Obama-ite's hideous charges of racism, this amazing tea party movement is driven by passion, concern, and love of country by the American people. A Tea Party Express "whistle stop" in Mt. Vernon, Texas epitomized the mood of the movement.
We were late leaving our Dallas, Texas, rally. We would arrive late at our rally in Memphis, Tennessee. The decision was made to cancel the road side "whistle stop" in Mt. Vernon, Texas. Besides, it was only supposed to be a brief stop for a few folks to tour the bus, take pictures, and give us homemade treats. Then, we received the call, "You MUST stop. There are a lot of people here!" The State Police led our Tea Party Express Tour bus into a crowd of 500 to 800 cheering excited people. They treated us like rock stars. Totally unprepared, the truck with our sound system was on its way to Memphis. We did not have a sound system or a stage.
We made our way through the crowd to the bed of a pick up truck. National radio talk show host Mark Williams, blue star mom Deborah Johns, singer Diana Nagy, the Rivoli Revue (Ron and Kay), and I climbed on board. Someone handed Mark a bull horn which he used to encourage the extremely enthusiastic crowd. We said the Pledge of Allegiance and Diana lead in the singing of "God Bless America." Many in the crowd were sobbing. Then they showered us with thanks, hugs, bottled water, bags of shacks and homemade treats. I thought, "How many angry racist mobs bake and bring brownies and overwhelm a black guy with affection and hugs?"
Once back on the bus, our team struggled to hold back tears. We felt humbled, honored, and blessed. Though extremely well received at each rally, this "whistle stop" drove home the passion, love of country, and importance of our mission to preserve and Take Back America!
The Tea Party protesters are hard working decent people who love their country and want us all united as Americans. I am highly offended that this evil administration seeks to divide us, not just by race, but also by class envy. As I said to many of the audiences along the Tea Party Express bus tour, "I love you. Stay strong. Do not allow their calling you a racist to shut you up! Stand up for America. God bless you. And God bless America!"
GAROFALO: TEA PARTY GOES ARE RACISTS WHO HATE BLACK PRESIDENT
By Noel Sheppard
April 16, 2009
During last year's election campaign, liberal media members treated Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin with a hatred most Americans had never witnessed from the press.
On Thursday's "Countdown," MSNBC's Keith Olbermann and his guest Janeane Garofalo defamed fellow citizens who attended the prior day's Tea Parties with the same vitriolic contempt.
Garofalo actually called Party-goers "a bunch of teabagging rednecks," adding "this is about hating a black man in the White House. This is racism straight up."
But that's just the beginning, for what Olbermann and Garofalo engaged in Thursday evening is amongst the most vile, hate-filled attacks on average American citizens ever conveyed on national television by so-called journalists. Please brace yourself (video embedded below the fold with transcript corrected from closed-captioning, h/t NBer Jeff Fuller):
KEITH OLBERMANN, HOST: Well, the teabagging is all over, except for the cleanup. And that will be my last intentional double entendre on this one at least until the end of this segment. Our number two story tonight, the sad reality behind the corporate sponsored Tea Parties, visual proof that this is not about spending, deficits, or taxes, but about some Americans getting riled up by the people who caused these things, and finally about some Americans who just hate the president of the United States. According to both the conservative organs, the New York Post and the Washington Times, see there was another double entendre coming, the protests only drew tens of thousands nationwide, despite relentless 24/7 promotion on Fox News, including live telecasts from several locations. Like Fox's Neil Cavuto caught yesterday off-air estimating his crowd in California's capitol at 5,000, then on air claiming it might have been 10,000 or 15,000. Despite Cavuto's live show with radio talker Michael Reagan there, Sacramento police put the crowd at just over 5,000. "I wouldn't say it was among the largest we've seen here, but 5,000 is pretty large for the west steps."
And then there were the protest messages, seething with hate. Cavuto calling that hate bipartisan. "They hate Republicans who waste money, they hate Democrats who waste money." That claim put to the test in Pensacola when an unemployed blogger named Jeff accepted an invitation to speak to Florida.
BLOGGER JEFF: I want to start off by honoring the service of our veterans, our current service members, thank you so much for all you've done for this country. I also want to say, a little history lesson here. Back in 2000, there was a bunch of surplus in the country. And then the next ten years, it was just destroyed by the profligate spending by the Bush administration. Here we are today in a situation where we have to...Cheer if you make less than $250,000 in a year. Just cheer. Your taxes are going to be cut under the current budget. Congratulations. I was laid off in September because my employer had to make budget cuts. That was before the election. Let's remember if you're going to argue about more taxes and less spending, to place the blame where the blame belongs and that's squarely in the hands of the Republican congress and...
OLBERMANN: Congratulations, Pensacola teabaggers. You got spunked. And despite the hatred on display, a few of you actually violated the penal code. But teabagging is now petered out, taint what it used to be. And when you co-opt the next holiday, Fourth of July, try to adopt a holiday food that does not invite the double entendres like, you know, franks and beans. On a more serious note, we're now joined by actor, activist Janeane Garofalo. Good to see you.
JANEANE GAROFALO: Thank you. You know, there's nothing more interesting than seeing a bunch of racists become confused and angry at a speech they're not quite certain what he's saying. It sounds right and then it doesn't make sense. Which, let's be very honest about what this is about. It's not about bashing Democrats, it's not about taxes, they have no idea what the Boston tea party was about, they don't know their history at all. This is about hating a black man in the White House. This is racism straight up. That is nothing but a bunch of teabagging rednecks. And there is no way around that. And you know, you can tell these type of right wingers anything and they'll believe it, except the truth. You tell them the truth and they become -- it's like showing Frankenstein's monster fire. They become confused, and angry and highly volatile. That guy, causing them feelings they don't know, because their limbic brain, we've discussed this before, the limbic brain inside a right-winger or Republican or conservative or your average white power activist, the limbic brain is much larger in their head space than in a reasonable person, and it's pushing against the frontal lobe. So their synapses are misfiring. Is Bernie Goldberg listening?
GAROFALO: Because Bernie might not have heard this when I said this the first time. So, Bernie, this is for you. It is a neurological problem we're dealing with.
OLBERMAN: Well, what do we do about it, though? I mean, our friend in Pensacola there who played them like a $3 fiddle and led them right down the garden path with nothing but facts and then they went, wait a minute, that doesn't sound like Rush Limbaugh. If you can't get them to make that last leap to what are we all doing here, Howard Johnson is wrong, how do you break through that?
GAROFALO: I don't think you do, for most of them. This is a -- it's almost pathological or elevated to a philosophy or lifestyle. And again, this is about racism. It could be any issue, any port in the storm. These guys hate that a black guy is in the White House. But they immigrant bash, they pretend taxes and tea bags, and like I said, most of them probably couldn't tell you thing one about taxation without representation, the Boston tea party, the British imperialism, whatever the history lesson has to be. But these people, all white for the most part, unless there's some people with Stockholm syndrome there.
OLBERMANN: And, I didn't see them, the fact that they weren't near the cameras which is bad strategy on the part of the people that were staging this at Fox.
GAROFALO: True, and Fox News loves to foment this anti-intellectualism because that's their bread and butter. If you have a cerebral electorate, Fox news goes down the toilet, very, very fast. But it is sick and sad to see Neil Cavuto doing that. They've been doing it for years, that's why Roger Ailes and Rupert Murdoch started this venture, is to disinform and to coarsen and dumb down a certain segment of the electorate. But what is really, I didn't know there were so many racists left. I didn't know that. I -- you know, because as I've said, the Republican hype and the conservative movement has now crystallized into the white power movement.
OLBERMANN: Is that not a bad, long-term political strategy because even though your point is terrifying that there are that many racists left, the flip side of it is there aren't that many racists left.
GAROFALO: They're the minority, but literally tens of people showed up to this thing across the country.
OLBERMANN: But if you spear your television network or your political party towards a bunch of guys looking who are just looking for a reason to yell at the black president, eventually you will marginalize yourself out of business, won't you?
GAROFALO: Here's what the right-wing has in, there's no shortage of the natural resources of ignorance, apathy, hate, fear. As long as those things are in the collective conscious and unconscious, the Republicans will have some votes. Fox News will have some viewers. But what else have they got? If they didn't do that, who is going to watch -- you know what I mean? They have tackled that elusive clam -- you know, the clam, the 18 to 35 clam -- klan. Klan. With a k demo. But, you know, who else is Fox talking to? I mean, what is it urban older white guys? And the girlfriend, and, you know, the women who suffer from Stockholm syndrome gain. There's a lot of Stockholm syndrome, is what I'm saying ultimately. What else do you want to know?
OLBERMANN: What happens if somebody who's at one of these things hurt somebody?
GAROFALO: That is an unfortunate byproduct since the dawn of time of a volatile group like this of the limbic brain. Violence unfortunately may or may not ensue. It always, it's like a, the Republican Party now depends upon immigrant bashing and hating the black guy in the White House. Will people act on that? It's not new. But, you know, Fox doesn't mind fomenting it. Michelle Bachmann doesn't mine fomenting it. Glenn Beck doesn't mind fomenting it.
OLBERMANN: Lou Dobbs.
GAROFALO: Lou Dobbs. Oh, man he sure doesn't mind. But this is, this their, what have they got if they don't have this? You know what I mean? It's like an identity politics of the worst kind.
OLBERMANN: They'd have peace in our time.
GAROFALO: Is Bernie still listening?
OLBERMANN: Bernie doesn't listen. Bernie listened for about two minutes last week. And that was it.
GAROFALO: Oh, he doesn't watch your show?
OLBERMANN: No, no, no, no, no, I mean in general that was his year's contribution to the actual political --
GAROFALO: So I can move up the rung from five to at least three.
OLBERMANN: Janeane Garofalo, number five, comedian, actress, political activist, and the expert on the limbic brain, great thanks as always.
GAROFALO: Very much thanks to you.
Wow! Is this what America has become?