A new report called Tea Party Nationalism, backed by the NAACP, links the Tea Party with racists and extremists. Amazing. How pre-post-racial could we possibly be? And when will liberals cease this preposterously lame narrative about right-wing racists?
I say this to liberals as a plea: yes, there are racists in America, but the impulse to find racists everywhere, and particularly among political opponents, horribly abuses the genuine dialogue we should be having about race, and woefully dilutes the very concept of racism in the minds of millions.
As Tea Party Nation founder Judson Phillips says, “Here we go again.”
The report doesn’t actually conclude that the Tea Party is racist — though it will be used that way. In fact, its opening sentence declares, “we know the majority of Tea Party supporters are sincere, principled people of good will.”
But it then discusses in alarmist terms the efforts of racists and extremists to “infiltrate” the Tea Party movement. The logic is guilt by association, and the charge is to purge.
By that logic, which I have rejected, Barack Obama’s close friendship with William Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn, never mind Reverend Wright, condemns Obama as an America-hating violent radical leftist. So which will it be? Shall we play the guilt-by-association game, which liberals will lose badly, or stop the madness, and credit both the president and the Tea Party as “people of good will” without reference to their “sinister” associations?
The report notes that the NAACP unanimously passed a resolution “condemning outspoken racist elements within the Tea Party,” and repeated the outright lie “that members of the Congressional Black Caucus reported that racial epithets were hurled at them as they passed by a Washington, D.C., health care protest. Civil rights legend John Lewis was called the ‘n-word’ in the incident.”
This is shameful. Repetition of this lie actually sets back race relations. But the NAACP evidently cares about racial politics, not race relations.
Here’s what happened on March 20th, the day of the vote on Obamacare. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and several members of the Congressional Black Caucus did something extraordinary. Rather than using their tunnel, as they routinely do, they chose a long walk through Tea Party protests. Curious, isn’t it? An interest in engagement perhaps? No, not at all, no effort whatever to engage the protesters. Why would they do this? Could it be that they calculated that at least one lone nut would certainly go beyond the pale and give them a lovely sound bite for the evening news?
Did they get their wish? A gush of suspiciously immediate media reports said yes — that “Tea party protesters scream ‘nigger’ at black congressman.” Despite the well-calculated odds that at least one lone nut would go beyond the pale (hence the immediate Republican apologies for even the possibility — a category of apology I’ve never seen from a liberal), in fact, there has yet to be a particle of proof, despite scores of video cameras and the offer of a $100,000 reward for any proof that such slurs occurred, that any protester used the n-word or any other slur. The cynical ploy collapsed.
Yet the ploy persisted, in outrageous accusations by House Democrats like Steve Cohen (D-TN), who said Tea Party protesters lack only the white robes and hoods and compared their protests to Hitler’s Kristallnacht.
Democrats so desperately need examples of conservatives being racist that they are willing to manufacture those examples out of whole cloth and white robes.
Obama is electable because he is a “light-skinned” African-American “with no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one.”
And just so you know, “if Obama was a white man, he would not be in this position. And if he was a woman, he would not be in this position. He happens to be very lucky to be who he is. And the country is caught up in the concept.”
Those Republicans . . .
But wait — angry thugs did beat up a black man at a health care rally. But the victim was a conservative opposed to Obamacare, and one of his pro-Obamacare attackers yelled a racist slur.
The report professes to be concerned about certain anti-Semitic individuals infiltrating the Tea Party movement. Really? Has there been a report about Oliver Stone’s anti-Semitic ranting, about a leftist cursing a Holocaust survivor, about the vile 19th-century anti-Semitism taught to Palestinian children as a matter of official policy, about Louis Farrakhan’s angry “voice of black anti-Semitism,” or indeed, about the phenomenon of black anti-Semitism itself? If the NAACP’s concern about anti-Semitism is now genuine, then I hope that the organization will release a report addressing leftist anti-Semitism, perhaps even right before the election.
And speaking of the opposite of anti-Semitism, why is it “racist” to compare Obama to Hitler, when leftists routinely called George Bush “Hitler” — typically with additional virulent disparagement? Will there be a report?
Similarly, is comparing Obama to the Joker “racist” — when much uglier “Joker,” Osama bin Laden, satanic, and “Republic*nt” images of George Bush and Sarah Palin were common? Could we get that report?
Do I need to go on? Can we stop this cynical use of race during an administration that is supposed to be post-racial? Is it a wonder why ordinary Americans get very weary of the crude cudgel of “racism” for every exception to liberal ideology, including, incredibly, Sarah Palin, Republican strength in the South, gay marriage, states rights, opposition to Obamacare, opposition to Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor, skepticism about the Henry Louis Gates incident, and even support for Israel (“They are on the side of Israel because Israel is — they don’t like Jews that much to start out with, either — but compared to Muslims, they like Jews fine.”) — and Jimmy Carter telling us that any opposition to Obama is racist (but then backtracking and contradicting his own words)?
The race card persuades fewer and fewer people. We should, we must, have an honest dialogue about race in America — and that honorable prospect becomes more remote as leftists perpetuate the canard that racism is uniquely epidemic among conservatives.
Kendrick MacDowell is a lawyer and writer in Washington, D.C.