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Tea & Crackers: How Corporate Interests and Republican Insiders Built the Tea Party Monster
September 29, 2010 4:36 PM   Subscribe

A hall full of elderly white people in Medicare-paid scooters, railing against government spending and imagining themselves revolutionaries as they cheer on the vice-presidential puppet hand-picked by the GOP establishment. If there exists a better snapshot of everything the Tea Party represents, I can't imagine it.
posted by MegoSteve (158 comments total) 59 users marked this as a favorite

 
Yeah, pretty much this.
posted by Ratio at 4:39 PM on September 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


"But after lengthy study of the phenomenon, I've concluded that the whole miserable narrative boils down to one stark fact: They're full of shit."

Oddly, this is also the stark fact at the center of Fast Food Nation.
posted by box at 4:40 PM on September 29, 2010 [5 favorites]


This article rings true.
posted by lalochezia at 4:41 PM on September 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


"Let me get this straight," I say to David. "You've been picking up a check from the government for decades, as a tax assessor, and your wife is on Medicare. How can you complain about the welfare state?"

"Well," he says, "there's a lot of people on welfare who don't deserve it. Too many people are living off the government."

"But," I protest, "you live off the government. And have been your whole life!"

"Yeah," he says, "but I don't make very much."


Wow. I have no words to describe this...
posted by SirOmega at 4:44 PM on September 29, 2010 [38 favorites]


It's one thing to know all these things, it's quite another to see them laid as clearly as Taibibi has here. The self-delusion is absolutely AWE-inspiring.
posted by OneMonkeysUncle at 4:48 PM on September 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


This thing is laden with quotes. On Ron Paul:

The elder Paul will object to this characterization, but what he represents is something of a sacred role in American culture: the principled crackpot. He's a libertarian, but he means it.

Which, yeah, he seems to be. And yeah, its a rare thing that requires a "but".
posted by Artw at 4:50 PM on September 29, 2010 [8 favorites]


I guess I'm out of bitterness at the moment. I feel sorry for these people. They're scared shitless just like us.
posted by Joe Beese at 4:53 PM on September 29, 2010 [12 favorites]


I see Tea Partiers wearing organization T-shirts, washed-out jeans, and blindingly white athletic shoes, the kind worn by people who don't actually work out. They wear blond or blue-white haircuts from bygone decades (if they still have hair), Sunbelt tans, and dark glasses. The dark glasses may be those wraparounds worn by people who have had cataract surgery, or aviators, but give a thuggish impression, like reverse-race Tonton Macoutes.

I am not going to suggest that people who routinely wear shades are full of bullshit, but the psychological effect of wearing dark glasses is to block eye contact, whether to convey that you are cooler than and thus superior to other people, or to prevent other people from seeing your insecurity or fear, the whites of your eyes.

It also doesn't matter how physically decrepit they are if they're carrying concealed or overt guns.
posted by bad grammar at 4:57 PM on September 29, 2010 [3 favorites]


I guess I'm out of bitterness at the moment. I feel sorry for these people. They're scared shitless just like us.

Well, yeah, they're victims really. Ugly tools of nasty people.

Still racist and stupid though.
posted by Artw at 5:02 PM on September 29, 2010 [19 favorites]


"They're scared shitless just like us."

Us?
posted by mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey at 5:05 PM on September 29, 2010 [4 favorites]


Us?

Not a lot of people feeling happy and economically stable in the world just right now. It's like a big horrible grumpy hangover that won't go away.

Another great bit:

The individuals in the Tea Party may come from very different walks of life, but most of them have a few things in common. After nearly a year of talking with Tea Party members from Nevada to New Jersey, I can count on one hand the key elements I expect to hear in nearly every interview. One: Every single one of them was that exceptional Republican who did protest the spending in the Bush years, and not one of them is the hypocrite who only took to the streets when a black Democratic president launched an emergency stimulus program. ("Not me — I was protesting!" is a common exclamation.) Two: Each and every one of them is the only person in America who has ever read the Constitution or watched Schoolhouse Rock. (Here they have guidance from Armey, who explains that the problem with "people who do not cherish America the way we do" is that "they did not read the Federalist Papers.") Three: They are all furious at the implication that race is a factor in their political views — despite the fact that they blame the financial crisis on poor black homeowners, spend months on end engrossed by reports about how the New Black Panthers want to kill "cracker babies," support politicians who think the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was an overreach of government power, tried to enact South African-style immigration laws in Arizona and obsess over Charlie Rangel, ACORN and Barack Obama's birth certificate. Four: In fact, some of their best friends are black! (Reporters in Kentucky invented a game called "White Male Liberty Patriot Bingo," checking off a box every time a Tea Partier mentions a black friend.) And five: Everyone who disagrees with them is a radical leftist who hates America.
posted by Artw at 5:08 PM on September 29, 2010 [32 favorites]


And this is why, when I'm Prime Minister of Australia, people will have to pass an IQ test before they are allowed to vote.
posted by malibustacey9999 at 5:10 PM on September 29, 2010


Because I can never be the President of the United States to stop lunatics there from voting.
posted by malibustacey9999 at 5:11 PM on September 29, 2010


I quite liked this part:
“That’s because the Tea Party doesn’t really care about issues — it’s about something deep down and psychological, something that can’t be answered by political compromise or fundamental changes in policy. At root, the Tea Party is nothing more than a them-versus-us thing. They know who they are, and they know who we are (“radical leftists” is the term they prefer), and they’re coming for us on Election Day, no matter what we do — and, it would seem, no matter what their own leaders like Rand Paul do.
Clearly, Taibbi's been tracking my MeFi comments very closely.
posted by ibmcginty at 5:13 PM on September 29, 2010 [3 favorites]


Sure, us.

Don't have an answer myself, but it's not too hard to envision economic collapse because of government mismanagement in the foreseeable future. I'm guessing from your avatar that you're on the younger side of forty. Have a little charity here. You may find yourself containing a few multitudes yourself as you start putting on some gray hairs and wrinkles.
posted by IndigoJones at 5:19 PM on September 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


They are all furious at the implication that race is a factor in their political views...

Bill Maher had a good bit about this issue on Larry King's show the other night:

“It’s funny, ’cause the teabaggers – the one thing they hate: when you call them racist. The other thing they hate is black people."
posted by euphorb at 5:19 PM on September 29, 2010 [28 favorites]


The elder Paul will object to this characterization, but what he represents is something of a sacred role in American culture: the principled crackpot. He's a libertarian, but he means it.

Nonsense. Ron Paul is only a Libertarian as long as it doesn't substantially get in the way of being a Christian Conservative.
posted by Pope Guilty at 5:20 PM on September 29, 2010 [11 favorites]


" I'm guessing from your avatar that you're on the younger side of forty. Have a little charity here."

Time to update the avatar, I guess.
posted by mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey at 5:23 PM on September 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


I have some GOP family members who are, at the very least, Tea Party sympathizers. Very anti-big government, the whole thing. Every last one of them congratulated me when I left my job at a big company (working on a gov't contract) and became a Federal employee. They said it was awesome I got a "stable, good" job with "great benefits" where I would be treated better.
WTF?
posted by pointystick at 5:28 PM on September 29, 2010 [21 favorites]


The late Marshall Frady once memorably described George C. Wallace as "a voice crying out in the darkness that there is darkness." The TPs are doing the same thing: future shock in action.

How disappointed they will be when the running dogs of the Capitalist Imperialist Aggressors are back in control.
posted by rdone at 5:30 PM on September 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


I guess I'm out of bitterness at the moment. I feel sorry for these people. They're scared shitless just like us.

I guess I find it impossible to feel sorry for someone who is actively trying to make my life worse.
posted by kafziel at 5:30 PM on September 29, 2010 [45 favorites]


I'm pretty okay with the way things are going in general to be honest. The world has always been going to hell in a handbasket but somehow it always gets better.
posted by empath at 5:42 PM on September 29, 2010 [3 favorites]


Nonsense. Ron Paul is only a Libertarian as long as it doesn't substantially get in the way of being a Christian Conservative.

Ron Paul: Mosque opposition ‘all about hate and Islamaphobia’
posted by 7-7 at 5:46 PM on September 29, 2010 [15 favorites]


"the psychological effect of wearing dark glasses is to block eye contact, whether to convey that you are cooler than and thus superior to other people, or to prevent other people from seeing your insecurity or fear, the whites of your eyes."

And here I thought it was to keep the sun out of your eyes.
posted by MikeMc at 5:48 PM on September 29, 2010 [7 favorites]


My only objection is that he keeps calling libertarians "intellectuals." Which I can only assume is pronounced "sociopaths."
posted by 1adam12 at 5:48 PM on September 29, 2010 [3 favorites]


@ bad_grammar, I too find the shades creepy. Most of these folks are old enough to have had cataract surgery. I have had cataract surgery, and people do wear those shades awhile. But still creepy. A lot of people get their cataract surgery as part of Medicare.
I wonder how many of these Tea Partiers realize that Sicial Security, Medicare etc. Probably helped prevent revolution in the U.S.?
Another thing, a lot of these folks who sadly need scooters might not need them if they had walked more when they were younger, and been more careful about their diets.
The ones with the oxygen tanks smoked often for YEARS, and now they need oxygen. If you want to think straight you have to eat right and not indulge in bad habits. Your brain gets messed up if you smoke and eat way fattening foods daily.
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 5:55 PM on September 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


For some reason I knew this was a Matt Taibbi article. Before following the link. Before reading the thread. Before even hovering over the link to see the URL of the company he's a staff writer for. It was simply that evident. I don't know if this says more about me or about the quality of political writing in America today. But there it is.
posted by at by at 6:06 PM on September 29, 2010 [4 favorites]


This post seems to be a bit of a follow up to previous MeFi post of an article by Matt Tabbi, but this work has such awesome summaries (interlaced perfectly) of the essence of his experiences of the reality of this movement that I wish there were some literary prize for quotations.

He made a much-covered topic still interesting to read. Well done, sir.
posted by hrbrmstr at 6:11 PM on September 29, 2010


Because I can never be the President of the United States to stop lunatics there from voting.

Why? Because you're Australian and were not born in the U. S.?

Neither was Obama. Ask any teabagger.
posted by notreally at 6:12 PM on September 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


The elder Paul will object to this characterization, but what he represents is something of a sacred role in American culture: the principled crackpot.
I think Rolling Stone just called Ron Paul our modern day Cato the Elder.
posted by boo_radley at 6:13 PM on September 29, 2010 [5 favorites]


"They're scared shitless just like us."

Yes, like us. They have the same frustrations we do. The country's changing, it looks like it's getting worse and there isn't a thing an honest citizen can do about it.

I'm not sure if Teabaggers are right for all the wrong reasons or wrong for all the right reasons.
posted by klarck at 6:23 PM on September 29, 2010 [3 favorites]


"For some reason I knew this was a Matt Taibbi article. Before following the link. Before reading the thread. Before even hovering over the link to see the URL of the company he's a staff writer for. It was simply that evident. I don't know if this says more about me or about the quality of political writing in America today. But there it is."

Because he's pretty much the only writer who would have the balls to write an Exile-style piece (yes, he was that good on Russian politics also) in a US publication? I'm not sure that the Tea Party/GOP hold too many fears after pissing off the Kremlin players from within Russia that many times; the rule of law is a far better krysha than the crap he had in Moscow.
posted by jaduncan at 6:28 PM on September 29, 2010 [5 favorites]


"...Too many people are living off the government."
"But," I protest, "you live off the government..."


Wow. I have no words to describe this...
The word, of course, is hypocrisy, but this is not much of a zinger, for the following frequently-forgotten reason:

Being a hypocrite does not make you wrong.

It makes you bad, but badness and wrongness are not the same thing.

If you state that murder is wrong, and then murder someone, your statement is still correct.

I don't actually think that the endlessly-heard "too many people are living off the government" complaint is actually valid - since most people in the Western world whose expenses are paid by the taxpayer have a quite miserable life, and the few who make out like bandits by scamming welfare usually get caught and painfully punished.

But just because a claim is made by someone who is clearly a flaming hypocrite does not, itself, mean there is anything wrong with the claim at all.
posted by dansdata at 6:32 PM on September 29, 2010 [9 favorites]


"A loose definition of the Tea Party might be millions of pissed-off white people sent chasing after Mexicans on Medicaid by the handful of banks and investment firms who advertise on Fox and CNBC."
Indeed.
posted by hippybear at 7:01 PM on September 29, 2010 [5 favorites]


The desire of members of the Tea Party to perceive themselves as not racist is identical to the desire of Andrew Shirvell to not perceive himself as a bigot.

I believe that they don't understand the actual meaning of the words bigot and racist anymore than they understand the meaning of the word socialist. To whit, they know that racists, bigots and socialists are bad people and they know that they are not bad people. Since they are not bad people, they can't possibly be racist no matter how racist their views actually are. Only bad people are racists.

There's also a "I hate the message, not the messenger" thing going on. The people they hate might not state any message outright, but their socialist agendas and homosexual agendas are patently clear when you look at them. Because their color or sexual orientation is the message. See? I don't hate them because they're black; I hate them because they send out a radical black message. They don't have to say it because I know its there when I look at them.

Hey, its like Arizona. We're not going to pull over people who are Hispanic. We're going to pull over people who feel like they might be illegal immigrants. It won't be because of how they look, but we'll know they're illegal immigrants when we see them.

Its a form of idiot semiotics that allows them to feel like good Christians and still be racist as all fuck.
posted by Joey Michaels at 7:09 PM on September 29, 2010 [74 favorites]


Everything that people think about taxes can be explained in this way: since the 1950's or so, political PR operatives have been training people to think about taxes the same way they think about investments: how does this tax (and gov't expenditure) provide a return to me, specifically? Since the individual is supreme, all government programs that provide a return to the individual who pays for them are okay (SocSec, Medicare, roads, police) but those that don't (welfare, TANF, WIC) are evil, illegal, unconstitutional. It's a completely insane and irrational way to think about taxes of course, but that's how it is.
posted by r_nebblesworthII at 7:09 PM on September 29, 2010 [17 favorites]


"The world is changing all around the Tea Party. The country is becoming more black and more Hispanic by the day. The economy is becoming more and more complex, access to capital for ordinary individuals more and more remote, the ability to live simply and own a business without worrying about Chinese labor or the depreciating dollar vanished more or less for good. They want to pick up their ball and go home, but they can't; thus, the difficulties and the rancor with those of us who are resigned to life on this planet."

Yeah, this Taibbi chap is alright.
posted by vidur at 7:12 PM on September 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


For some reason I knew this was a Matt Taibbi article.

Yeah, I knew it from the quote in the FPP. The language used sounded like him, somehow. revolutionaries and puppet, in particular. So naturally I clicked on the link, because I like Matt Taibbi, even though reading him makes me miss Hunter S. Thompson all the more.
posted by oneirodynia at 7:24 PM on September 29, 2010 [11 favorites]


I think the Tea Party is a blunt attempt at simplifying politics. Instead of weighing whether or not the government benefits the greatest number of people efficiently (utilitarianism), they want to analyze one element: Is the government "big?"

This reminds me a lot of how I used to look at huge corporations when I was a well meaning proto-liberal in middle school. Rather than considering the labor practices, environmental impact, and so on of a corporation to determine if it was bad or good, I decided a corporation's malevolence was directly proportional to its size. This was a crude method, but I felt it was good enough.

Then I grew up and started reading the news, and realized that just because a company is big doesn't mean they're evil, and that not all small businesses are good and ethical.

However, this isn't about getting people to think and make nuanced decisions. This is about herding cats to the voting booth. When I start a political movement, I'm going to go one step further than being anti-big government or anti-big business. I will just be anti-big. If something is beyond my understanding, I will be against it, and so will be my followers.
posted by mccarty.tim at 7:29 PM on September 29, 2010 [20 favorites]


I do so like Tabibi's vitriolic, scathing, abusive style. I'm also glad there's only one of him.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:35 PM on September 29, 2010 [3 favorites]


But just because a claim is made by someone who is clearly a flaming hypocrite does not, itself, mean there is anything wrong with the claim at all.

I know, and I'm trying hard as fuck not to raise an eyebrow at Christine O'Donnell's nonstop compulsive masturbation.
posted by fleetmouse at 7:38 PM on September 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


mccarty.tim > [The Tea Party] is about herding cats to the voting booth.
YES. Yes, yes, yes, yes, YES!! It's beautiful.
posted by Decimask at 7:39 PM on September 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


It = mccarty.tim's encapsulation.
posted by Decimask at 7:40 PM on September 29, 2010


[The Tea Party] is about herding cats to the voting booth.

Cats with oxygen tanks driving Rascals, but cats none the less.
posted by Joey Michaels at 7:42 PM on September 29, 2010 [4 favorites]


Well, they're cats. You expect them to WALK?
posted by hippybear at 7:57 PM on September 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


I simply cannot take any of this seriously. I just can't. It's so ridiculous that it's hilarious.

Also, I'm fairly young. Early thirties. The chances that I'm going to outlive the average fox watching, tea drinking, gay fearing voter are damn good. I'm just patiently waiting for them to die off so I can watch the fun once they're out of the way.
posted by Leta at 8:02 PM on September 29, 2010 [3 favorites]


The chances that I'm going to outlive the average fox watching, tea drinking, gay fearing voter are damn good. I'm just patiently waiting for them to die off so I can watch the fun once they're out of the way.

Overall, that's a great idea.... but with the SCOTUS having lifetime appointments, it's very possible for the lingering effects of a Tea Party takeover of Congress and Presidency to have linger effects that go on FAR beyond the active lifetime of their actual elected power. That we've seen two non-conservative women appointed in the past two years is a great thing. But that can be overcome pretty easily if Ginsberg and Breyer (ages 77 and 72, respectively) end up leaving office while Palin/Gingrich/Huckabee/whomever are in the White House.

After all, 3 of the members of the current SCOTUS were appointed by either Reagan or GHW Bush. And that, as you in your early 30s knows, is basically your lifetime ago.
posted by hippybear at 8:12 PM on September 29, 2010


I move that Metafilter sends Joey Michaels a fruit basket.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 8:13 PM on September 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


These are people who haven't moved one step beyond the 1970's- which was a terrible time for them because they were trapped in the 1950's. In the 1950's these people were building billy carts and absorbing John Wayne nonsense about some apple pie version of the USA that was invented to paper over the slight discomfort that comes with a Hitler-facilitated global power grab.

Fuck, I'm just as bad as they are! AAAAAAAAAAAAHH!!!
posted by Gamien Boffenburg at 8:46 PM on September 29, 2010


The chances that I'm going to outlive the average fox watching, tea drinking, gay fearing voter are damn good. I'm just patiently waiting for them to die off so I can watch the fun once they're out of the way.

Cyncial though I may be, it's entirely probable that the children of these "elderly white people in Medicare-paid scooters" that Taibbi so skillfully (and patronizingly) derides will become old someday themselves and remember what those assholes in the lamestream media did to their poor parents, who were, after all, just trying to preserve the American way of life for their children. Just the way these people remember what the lamestream media did to George Wallace in the 1960s, because he too was just trying to preserve the American way of life for their children and grandchildren.

So, although the current crop may die away, there will always be a new crop to replace them, eventually. The one constant about the history of American politics is that's always a new crop of fearful, angry, xenophobic voters just waiting to be riled up by someone with the right skills and the right amount of money and determination.
posted by blucevalo at 9:02 PM on September 29, 2010 [3 favorites]


Mmm, I dunno blucevalo. I know a whole lot of people with seriously racist parents who have moved past that, largely because peer pressure forced them to examine the ideas they were raised with. Virtually all the people I know who are freaked out by gay people are collecting Social Security, and literally all the homophobes I know are over 40.

I'm not saying that there won't always be some fearful, angry, xenophobic voters. I'm saying that this particular brand is nearing their expiration date.
posted by Leta at 9:11 PM on September 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


Did I make it in time for the Two Minutes Hate? Am I out of line if I suggest that all Tea Party members might not be racists.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 9:33 PM on September 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


Am I out of line if I suggest that all Tea Party members might not be racists.

ALL of them? I am certain that they are not ALL racists.

But I think there is enough of an undercurrent within the group that the ones who aren't should speak out against the ones who are, and I don't see that happening much.
posted by hippybear at 9:46 PM on September 29, 2010 [3 favorites]


[A couple comments removed. You two, cut it the fuck out.]
posted by cortex at 9:50 PM on September 29, 2010


I'm saying that this particular brand is nearing their expiration date.

But the evidence is that their children will have lives that are worse than their parents' for the first time in 70 or 80 years or so. It may be that people who are under 40 now who are non-homophobic and non-racist will find plenty of reasons to become bigoted if gays and other minorities are skillfully scapegoated enough at some point in the future and people's material situation has declined or failed to improve.
posted by blucevalo at 9:55 PM on September 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


Fair enough.
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:03 PM on September 29, 2010


But I think there is enough of an undercurrent within the group that the ones who aren't should speak out against the ones who are, and I don't see that happening much.

I agree, but the only problem is that the Tea Party isn't a monolithic establishment like the Republican and Democratic parties so there is really no mechanism to censure or remove someone from the party. If someone gets removed from one tea party group the just go to the next one down the road and continue their antics. I haven't researched this topic exhaustively so I am no expert so take this for what it's worth; here's what a simple google search turned up.

As most of you are aware, one of the leaders in the tea party movement posted a controversial blog many took to be racist. The Tea Party Movement is not racist. Tea Party Nation and many other groups have repudiated racism and racists. If you look on our website's FAQ's, you can see we have a no tolerance policy against racism. We have banned members who were racists and will ban any members who show themselves to be racist. Tea Party Nation welcomes all patriots, regardless of gender, ethnicity or national origin to join us and help save this great country.

Just to clarify, I have been trying to ignore the whole Beck/Palin/Teabagger express and while I am sure that there are certain elements that are indeed racist, I don't think it is fair to paint a large segment of people as racists just because he MSM says so. I could be wrong but that's just my gut feeling.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 10:07 PM on September 29, 2010


You are the company you keep.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:15 PM on September 29, 2010 [9 favorites]


I agree, but the only problem is that the Tea Party isn't a monolithic establishment like the Republican and Democratic parties so there is really no mechanism to censure or remove someone from the party.

Yeah, but I'm not talking about official people within the nebulous structure speaking out. I'm talking about the everyday Tea Party people. They should be walking up to others at their marches and demonstrations and telling other people "Listen, your sign or slogan has heavy racist overtones, and you're really giving our new movement a bad name. You need to get beyond your bigotry and focus on the things which we claim are the real problems with this country. If you can't do that, then stop attending our events and find an organization which actually shares your xenophobic views and join that."

Seriously.

In a movement as large and scattered as the Tea Party, if they won't police themselves on a 1:1 level, then they deserve whatever reputation they get as a result. If they're really that afraid OF EACH OTHER that they can't hold those discussions, then they're more fucked up than even I had imagined.
posted by hippybear at 10:30 PM on September 29, 2010 [13 favorites]


I'm just patiently waiting for them to die off so I can watch the fun once they're out of the way.

I've been waiting forty fucking years. It's not an effective strategy.
posted by Jimmy Havok at 11:59 PM on September 29, 2010 [12 favorites]


Am I out of line if I suggest that all Tea Party
members might not be racists.

Isn't that kind of the point? Don't all christians believe in god?
posted by londonmark at 12:30 AM on September 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


I agree, but the only problem is that the Tea Party isn't a monolithic establishment like the Republican and Democratic parties so there is really no mechanism to censure or remove someone from the party.

I disagree. As this particular article and a dozen other sources demonstrate, the tea party is an astro-turfed doppleganger of the Republican party. Same funding sources and, when push comes to shove (i.e. Rand Paul), same political views.
posted by Joey Michaels at 1:13 AM on September 30, 2010 [3 favorites]


(i.e. - tax cuts for the wealthy and neither tea nor cake for anyone else)
posted by Joey Michaels at 1:14 AM on September 30, 2010


It makes sense, doesn't it, to have the anger of a split nation directed at the government, the only powerful institution that is potentially democratic.
posted by klue at 1:16 AM on September 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


And at the risk of flogging a dead horse, I'd add that claiming not to be racist rings hollow when your policies (such that they are) are implicitly unegalitarian. If one claims to be principally opposed to state aid, for example, while personally benefitting from state aid, there has to be some kind of internal rationalisation going on. It's a symptom of a rampantly inflated sense of entitlement. I deserve this support but those other people do not. As the article points out, this boils down to them versus us. The Tea Party feeds off fear, fear that other people are getting stuff they don't deserve (stuff that should be coming to me), and the implicit, deliberate target of this kind of bigotry is always, always, people who are different. Gays, communists, blacks, Mexicans, Formics, whatever. If that isn't racism, I don't know what is.
posted by londonmark at 1:17 AM on September 30, 2010 [7 favorites]


And this is why, when I'm Prime Minister of Australia, people will have to pass an IQ test before they are allowed to vote.

If I could be the Prime Minister of Australia [and that's debatable]
I'd pass a law to make all cats inflatable
Then lay around on the beach all day
Talkin' with ya mates in a casual way
About how many waves ya caught... with ya cat


This post is ageist.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 2:26 AM on September 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


I think Rolling Stone just called Ron Paul our modern day Cato the Elder.

Welfare delenda est.
posted by atrazine at 2:33 AM on September 30, 2010 [3 favorites]


I agree, but the only problem is that the Tea Party isn't a monolithic establishment like the Republican and Democratic parties so there is really no mechanism to censure or remove someone from the party.

The Democratic party contained Bernie Sanders and Joe Lieberman (who was even a VP candidate!) for many years, how is that a monolithic establishment?
posted by atrazine at 2:34 AM on September 30, 2010


To clarify. The FPP is ageist, not my post. [the FPP is also racist, and even classist if you consider the snark about Medicare-paid scooters].

Tea-and-Crackers...?! C'mon. Imagine if someone had titled a post "The-Niggardly-Nigger-in-the-Woodpile." Do you think that would fly?
posted by uncanny hengeman at 2:45 AM on September 30, 2010


[the FPP is also racist, and even classist if you consider the snark about Medicare-paid scooters].

Tea-and-Crackers...?! C'mon. Imagine if someone had titled a post "The-Niggardly-Nigger-in-the-Woodpile." Do you think that would fly?


Note to self: must tune-up race-senstivity-ometer, I completely missed this, 'Cracker' reference. Must be because I've never had that yelled at me by a passing car of beer-can-throwing black guys. I've also never overheard the argument that it's normal to call poor 'white' people 'crackers' because, you know, that's what they are. Not that that might not have ever happened, I'm saying it's just not in the realm of my experiences.

Like the Mormons, the origins of the 'Tea Party' movement are interesting and relevant and maybe more to the point than how they manifest themselves now. Where the Tea Party goes in the future (whether or not it gets re-absorbed into the Republican Party in six years) is a bigger question that will tell how strongly people really feel about these issues or whether they were just hiding their racism behind a convenient dodge. (I do know my gleefully racist uncle would never hide, but some people are not quite so sure of their own weaker selves.)
posted by From Bklyn at 3:11 AM on September 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


You are the company you keep.

I would favorite this several times, if I could.
posted by moonbiter at 3:13 AM on September 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


I completely missed this, 'Cracker' reference. Must be because I've never had that yelled at me by a passing car of beer-can-throwing black guys. I've also never overheard the argument that it's normal to call poor 'white' people 'crackers' because, you know, that's what they are. Not that that might not have ever happened, I'm saying it's just not in the realm of my experiences.

How hard was that hammer thrown again? Oh, sorry. My bad.

As you were.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 3:44 AM on September 30, 2010


There's the proof your educational system is failing, America.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 4:46 AM on September 30, 2010


My point is different, actually. Namely that there is a contextual component to racist speech. Not being in, nor having spent all that much time in a milieu (such that I might have become sensitized to its use) where 'cracker' is used to denote anything other than a toasted wheat thin, I'd lost track of that possible meaning of it.


posted by From Bklyn at 4:57 AM on September 30, 2010


I agree, but the only problem is that the Tea Party isn't a monolithic establishment like the Republican and Democratic parties so there is really no mechanism to censure or remove someone from the party.

This is a really convenient fiction. It means no one has to be responsible for bad behavior.
posted by OmieWise at 5:15 AM on September 30, 2010 [8 favorites]


Am I out of line if I suggest that all Tea Party members might not be racists.

Look. At the extreme, if you want me to I can go find you actual, literal Klansmen who were not particularly racist. Hugo Black, maybe. Fully paid up, sheet-wearin', cross-burnin' members of the Ku Klux Klan who bore blacks (and others) no real animus.

But you would have to be completely poop-smearing bugfuck crazy to suggest that the Klan was not a racist movement just because not everyone in it was racist.

We know, with almost complete certainty, that the tea party movement is strongly disproportionately made up of white racists. We know this because surveyers asked a whole bunch of people how they feel about the tea party movement, and how they feel about black people (and homosexuals and latinos and others). And what do you know -- people who like the tea party movement are substantially more likely to be white people who have negative, stereotypical attitudes about minority groups. You know. Bigots.

We can quibble about exactly how dominated by racists a movement needs to be for reasonable people to call it a racist movement. It might be that for many reasonable people the tea party movement is not over that line. But the mere fact that not every single person in the group is racist doesn't mean that it isn't fair or reasonable to call the movement a racist movement.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 5:40 AM on September 30, 2010 [16 favorites]


"Boy shouldn’t have called me a cracker, bringing me back to owning land and people what a drag. Ruined my day."
posted by snwod at 5:43 AM on September 30, 2010 [6 favorites]


I have a good friend from college who is a supporter of the tea party movement who I have know for years. He's ex-navy and a very conservative guy, but he is definitely not a racist as many of his good friends are guess what African American. My cousin also a supporter of the teaparty. She has a mixed race child so I kinda think she would reject the racist tag. My parents, god bless them, are also supporters of the tea party. Once a year they go to Nicaragua for a month to build houses and distribute food and medicine. My father also volunteers on the nearby Fort Totten Indian Reservation. My parents are the most accepting and loving people that I know. But I guess they are racist because they support the tea party. These are just the people that I know who support the tea party and not a one of them is, in my opinion, a racist. What they are are people who are very conservative and they all watch fox news too much. I disagree with almost all of their politics, but I can't bring myself to label them as racist just because some schmuck writing for rolling stone says I should. Since I don't want this to turn into another me vs. metafilter thread I will only say this once and then drop it. Forming a negative opinion about a large group of people based on the actions of a subset of that group is not really helpful. It is in fact a fallacy of composition. So while in general I agree with you guys that yes their are racist elements in the tea party movement you cannot paint all the individuals in the group as racist. What you are doing is playing right into the hands of the ruling class in this country who are just playing the old divide and conquer game. The tea party is falling into this same trap. With that I am done with this thread I will enjoy reading your responses.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 5:55 AM on September 30, 2010 [3 favorites]


It's important to distinguish between viewpoints and behavior, as Jay Smooth has pointed out. I don't want to have the discussion about whether your close friends and family are racists. I don't know them. I don't know what they think. And it's beside the point.

The organization they support is linked to racist behavior and supports positions that stem from visible and undeniable racial hostility and animosity. Your friends and family may not be racists, but they are engaging in behavior that is, at the very best, racially insensitive. I am not here to address them as people or judge them as racists. I am simply here to point out that they're connected to a movement that engages in racist behavior. And behavior counts -- it's all we can know. They may be perfectly lovely, and their motives may be entirely reasonable, from their perspective, but the groups links to overt racism, and constant fanning of racial hostilities and the sheer ignorance and unconcern for racial sensitivity that comes out of the group as a whole is undeniable, and I won't bother redocumenting what has been documented here a million times.

If your friends and family are not racists, it should be of concern to them that they are engaged in a group and supporting a worldview that will cause them to be perceived as engaging in racist behavior.
posted by Astro Zombie at 6:05 AM on September 30, 2010 [12 favorites]


While I was interested to read an article about the real, front-lines Tea Party people (I am always interested in that, because they are often really nuts and funny), I was pretty disappointed by this piece.

For one, the characterization of Kentucky was just unfair. Mentioning that the Hot Brown, a favorite local dish, is fattening had nothing at all to do with the subject at hand, and everything to do with being a subtle barb concerning Kentucky, Mid-America, The South and weight and health issues (all of which are pretty closely tied to poverty). Knowing that Taibbi spent time in Louisville, Lexington and Northern Kentucky, I find it absolutely impossible that the only people he ran into who oppose Paul were the two he mentioned. I understand, of course, that the piece was about the Tea Party, and not the opposition to the Tea Party. Still, though, the final piece sort of gives the impression that the entire state and region are into this stuff, and I think a brief mention of the opposition is in order.

"Buried deep in the anus of the Bible Belt, in a little place called Petersburg, Kentucky..."

How is ^that^ supposed to read to anyone living in or around Petersburg? Petersburg is, by the way, about 10 miles from Cincinnati, and around 45 minutes from Louisville; hardly "buried deep in the anus" of anything.

I am also unsure why there is zero mention of Jack Conway, Paul's opponent. Jack has been an outstanding AG for the state of KY, and is currently fighting a terribly hard battle against Paul. I am perplexed as to how this piece was written without ever mentioning his name.

I suppose that, in general, I do not enjoy this kind of writing, no matter who or where it comes from.
posted by broadway bill at 6:24 AM on September 30, 2010 [14 favorites]


I can't bring myself to label them as racist just because some schmuck writing for rolling stone says I should.

RTFA, schmuck. Taibbi clearly writes, on the second page:
"It would be inaccurate to say the Tea Partiers are racists. What they are, in truth, are narcissists. They're completely blind to how offensive the very nature of their rhetoric is to the rest of the country. I'm an ordinary middle-aged guy who pays taxes and lives in the suburbs with his wife and dog — and I'm a radical communist? I don't love my country? I'm a redcoat? Fuck you! These are the kinds of thoughts that go through your head as you listen to Tea Partiers expound at awesome length upon their cultural victimhood, surrounded as they are by America-haters like you and me or, in the case of foreign-born president Barack Obama, people who are literally not Americans in the way they are.

It's not like the Tea Partiers hate black people. It's just that they're shockingly willing to believe the appalling horseshit fantasy about how white people in the age of Obama are some kind of oppressed minority. That may not be racism, but it is incredibly, earth-shatteringly stupid. I hear this theme over and over — as I do on a recent trip to northern Kentucky, where I decide to stick on a Rand Paul button and sit in on a Tea Party event at a local amusement park. Before long, a group of about a half-dozen Tea Partiers begin speculating about how Obamacare will force emergency-room doctors to consult "death panels" that will evaluate your worth as a human being before deciding to treat you."
See? That schmuck from Rolling Stone didn't call your mommy and daddy racists. Happy now?
posted by octobersurprise at 6:35 AM on September 30, 2010 [16 favorites]


[A couple comments removed. Metatalk is indeed where you need to go if you need to keep arguing about the post framing itself.]
posted by cortex at 6:44 AM on September 30, 2010


See? That schmuck from Rolling Stone didn't call your mommy and daddy racists. Happy now?

Sorry instead read: I can't bring myself to label them as racist just because some schmuck on metafilter says I should.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 6:45 AM on September 30, 2010


Well, then. Consider your filial duty discharged.
posted by octobersurprise at 6:49 AM on September 30, 2010


I found the first several paragraphs of this article pretty funny. Then I was struck by the realization that THIS IS ACTUALLY HAPPENING and now I just want to go home, hide under my bed, and maybe drink.
posted by honeydew at 6:54 AM on September 30, 2010


he is definitely not a racist as many of his good friends are guess what African American.

Dude.

My cousin also a supporter of the teaparty. She has a mixed race child so I kinda think she would reject the racist tag.

Dude.

My parents, god bless them, are also supporters of the tea party. Once a year they go to Nicaragua for a month to build houses and distribute food and medicine. My father also volunteers on the nearby Fort Totten Indian Reservation.

Dude.
posted by Pope Guilty at 7:08 AM on September 30, 2010 [18 favorites]


Duuuuude :)
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 7:16 AM on September 30, 2010


You do understand that none of those things disqualifies a person from being racist, right? I mean, surely you are least that aware.
posted by Pope Guilty at 7:19 AM on September 30, 2010 [10 favorites]


Forget it, man, it's not worth it.
posted by empath at 7:27 AM on September 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


It's TeaParty Town, Jake.
posted by Astro Zombie at 7:38 AM on September 30, 2010 [11 favorites]


Forming a negative opinion about a large group of people based on the actions of a subset of that group is not really helpful.

Depends on how large and dominant that subset is. Otherwise, we can't say that the KKK is racist, because not all members of the Klan were racist, and we can't say that the NSDAP was a Jew-hating organization because not all members of the Party hated Jews.

I'm not aware of anyone here who has said that your parents are racist. I don't think your parents are racist.

But they are participating in and supporting a racist movement. As far as I care, anyway; reasonable people can quibble about whether the tea party movement is sufficiently dominated by bigots and racist positions as to be called a "racist movement."

Just like someone who joined the Klan or the Party for the business connections, or just because it was kind of what you did in that place and time, or because they found the leaders personally compelling might not be racist or bigoted themselves, but nonetheless is still participating in a racist movement.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 7:47 AM on September 30, 2010 [4 favorites]


The real message behind all those "We, The People" yard signs is "Them, The Not-People."

Sorta like the concept of "real Americans" is based on the assumption of "false Americans.'

This sort of politics if for the sort of folks who can't see the connection between racism, sexism and homophobia.

Also, only moral-relativist liberals grasp the concept of that "hypocrisy" they keep talking about. It has no meaning whatsoever in a moral-absolutist universe. Nobody in the Tea Party is going to understand why that retired tax assessor is so utterly full of shit.

The Birchers, the Wallacites, Nixon's "Silent Majority," Jerry Fallwell's "Moral Majority," the "city on a hill" exceptionalists, the Contract with America, and most recently, GW Bush's delusional basis for waging aggressive war: it not just the same ideas; it's practically the same people. It's certainly the same elites taking advantage of their phoney-baloney populist outrage.

Y'all should have seen this coming when they started warming up the "stab in the back" rhetoric before we invaded Iraq.

The fact that they are delusional doesn't mean this is going to end well.

The thing that amazes me is with this screwed-up politics that the level of political violence is as low as it is. However, I assume that will change next year.
posted by warbaby at 7:56 AM on September 30, 2010 [3 favorites]


TenMillionVoters.com: Newt Launches Tea Party Campaign To Stop ‘Radical, Secular Socialist Machine’.
posted by ericb at 8:21 AM on September 30, 2010


Gotta love it: Tea Party favorite Sharron Angle And Her Husband Receive Government Health Care.
posted by ericb at 8:23 AM on September 30, 2010 [3 favorites]


And another doozy: Tea Party Backed GOP Candidate Allen West Claims He Has Higher Security Clearance Than President Obama.
posted by ericb at 8:25 AM on September 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


It is in fact a fallacy of composition.

You just claimed that the actions of a subset of the tea party define its character.

No doubt you are unable to see what you have done there.

Or else you are trolling.
posted by Jimmy Havok at 8:34 AM on September 30, 2010


You just claimed that the actions of a subset of the tea party define its character.

No what I claimed is that the tea party is made up of individuals and that it is a fallacy of composition to attribute the character of a subset of that group to all of the individuals that make up said group. Here, let me quote my actual statement.

So while in general I agree with you guys that yes their are racist elements in the tea party movement you cannot paint all the individuals in the group as racist.

As you can plainly see I made no claim about the character of the tea party, but rather about the individuals composing it. No doubt you are unable to see what I've done there. I suggest taking a course in introductory logic.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 8:46 AM on September 30, 2010


That being said I will make a claim about the character of the tea party as a whole. The party itself and the individuals that compose it seem to be severely misinformed. That may have something to do with fox news.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 8:49 AM on September 30, 2010


And with that I really really need to bow out of this thread because once again it seems the focus is shifting away from the topic at hand to me personally. What with the accusations of trolling and what not.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 9:03 AM on September 30, 2010


Let's see. We have a movement where a lot of white folks on the dole complain about how a bunch of brown folks are coming to America to get on the dole.

We've got a movement that says "This brown man doesn't deserve to be President because he (despite indisputable evidence to the contrary) wasn't born in the US and therefore isn't a real American, but this white man, who was indisputably born outside the US, deserves to be President because he's a real American."

But a bunch of your friends who support this movement do nice things for brown people, so characterizing this movement as racist is wrong.

No doubt your friends were demonstrating against George Bush's deficit spending as well. At those invisible demonstrations that all the other Tea Partiers were at.
posted by Jimmy Havok at 9:07 AM on September 30, 2010


"...Too many people are living off the government."
"But," I protest, "you live off the government..."


Taibbi captured something here that I've been having a really hard time trying to articulate; the Tea Baggers seems to be following a similar path that we've seen in the past with anti-abortion protesters who, finding themselves or their children unexpectedly pregnant, have no problems terminating that pregnancy, and going back to protest on the line the next day.

You can see this characterized in their views on racism and government programs like welfare, it's so self serving that it almost pushes beyond standard hypocrisy. They don't see themselves as wrong, because they are working for what they believe is right. So anything they do, no matter how awful.

It's amazing and more than a little bit terrifying, because there is no way to have any kind of rational discourse with someone who's mind works this way. They have abrogated opposing views with the simple concept that if you don't agree, you are the enemy.
posted by quin at 9:16 AM on September 30, 2010 [4 favorites]


As you can plainly see I made no claim about the character of the tea party, but rather about the individuals composing it.

Well, people here were talking about the tea party in general, you're the one who brought the subject of your parents up, and then you complain that we talk about them (although no one really did).
posted by Tarumba at 9:16 AM on September 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


It worries me to say this, but I'm starting to get Leo Straussian on this stuff. These people, residents of the left side of the bell curve, are going to be led.

They can be led for good or ill. The left needs better demagogues.
posted by Trochanter at 9:19 AM on September 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


And another doozy: Tea Party Backed GOP Candidate Allen West Claims He Has Higher Security Clearance Than President Obama.

According to the article, dude only has a 'secret' clearance. Hell, mine used to be higher than that....
posted by Infinite Jest at 9:25 AM on September 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


To me, this seems to relate: Joan Walsh has a (too short) interview with Jefferson Cowie, the author of "Stayin' Alive: The 1970s and the Last Days of the Working Class," a book about how the left and blue collar America parted ways over Vietnam, race, feminism and other stuff.

The void this left in leadership for the working class has been filled by all of these latter day Elmer Gantrys. It's food for thought, in my book.
posted by Trochanter at 10:09 AM on September 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


The left needs better demagogues.

Because that's worked out so well in the past.
posted by octobersurprise at 10:29 AM on September 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


It absolutely amazes me that some people actually believe the Tea Party as a whole - or a large portion of its members - are racist.

Anyone who automatically thinks "racist!" upon hearing the words "Tea Party" is either willfully ignorant, hateful, or hopelessly deluded.
posted by davidmsc at 10:40 AM on September 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


Okay, okay: rhetoricians. Somebody to sell the idea that it's not about race, it's about money. That it's the rich that are screwing you, not the brown people. Somebody to say this to them:
The bad news is that the Tea Party's political outrage is being appropriated, with thanks, by the Goldmans and the BPs of the world. The good news, if you want to look at it that way, is that those interests mostly have us by the balls anyway, no matter who wins on Election Day. That's the reality; the rest of this is just noise. It's just that it's a lot of noise, and there's no telling when it's ever going to end.
posted by Trochanter at 10:42 AM on September 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


It's an organization of white people outraged that some portion of government money may be being used in a way that benefits non-white people rather than themselves - pretty hard to get away from the race angle there.
posted by Artw at 10:45 AM on September 30, 2010 [4 favorites]


Anyone who automatically thinks "racist!" upon hearing the words "Tea Party" is either willfully ignorant, hateful, or hopelessly deluded.

I don't think they're racist, per se. Not the whole lot of them. I do think they trade on the exposed nerve of racial tension, I think they're so self-centered they actually see themselves and being victimized by racial minorities, and I think a lot of what they're doing in an unconscious reaction to feeling like their privilege is threatened by dark-skinned others. I believe this because it has been repeatedly documented. And so while they're not necessarily flying the stars and bars and singing the songs of Johnny Rebel, a lot of their behavior supports institutions of racism.

I suppose I could take your word that this sort of thing is willfully ignorant, hateful, or hopelessly deluded. Instead, I am going to ask that you actually make your case, rather than just taking your word for it.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:47 AM on September 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


willfully ignorant, hateful, or hopelessly deluded

Why don't we just describe the Tea Party this way and call it comity.
posted by octobersurprise at 10:50 AM on September 30, 2010


Locked and Loaded: The Secret World of Extreme Militias
posted by homunculus at 10:53 AM on September 30, 2010


One thing I've been wanting to ask about the Tea Party. When you're told about the demographic make-up of the troupe, you hear that they are overwhelmingly male. Yet, in the media, almost every photograph of a Tea Party Gathering will be of women, or will feature women. What's up with that?

Just looking at the pictures, I swear you would think the movement was mostly made up of women.
posted by Trochanter at 10:55 AM on September 30, 2010


The VAST majority of people that I know and interact with that are supporters of the Tea Party don't give a rat's patootie about the color of the President or anyone else - they are concerned about the massive, immense, enormous federal budget, and the rate at which it is increasing, and the growing level of government involvement in every aspect of life.

It's NOT about race - it's about how much control/money the federal government wields.

And re: race -- I know there are plenty of Tea Party members/supporters/sympathizers that would love to see - for example - a J.C. Watts in the White House, or maybe Condi Rice, etc.

It's not about race - it's about IDEAS and PHILOSOPHY.
posted by davidmsc at 11:13 AM on September 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


It's not about race - it's about IDEAS and PHILOSOPHY.

Before we continue, I have to ask: Are you fucking with me here?
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:15 AM on September 30, 2010 [15 favorites]


You know who else had IDEAS and PHILOSOPHY?
posted by empath at 11:20 AM on September 30, 2010 [4 favorites]


Sorry, davidmsc, I think you're deluding yourself. YOU are talking about a fringe of the party as much as anyone.
posted by Trochanter at 11:22 AM on September 30, 2010


Anyone who automatically thinks "racist!" upon hearing the words "Tea Party" is either willfully ignorant, hateful, or hopelessly deluded.

You're right. All the hundreds of pictures taken of their rallies, where they're holding signs that are openly race-baiting, or comparing the president to Hitler, or insisting that the president isn't American--I'm sure those are all just aberrations, or maybe the CIA going COINTELPRO on them. Clearly this upstanding band of exclusively-white, middle-to-upper-class Americans are simply vehemently opposed to the financial excesses of the current administration, and it is merely coincidental that they waited until a black president took office to cry foul on spending increases that pale in comparison to those of the previous (coincidentally also very-white!) administration. All those people pointing out the party leadership's habit of using dog-whistle language to appeal to uneducated racists are similarly misguided, because... well, Elfwine totally knows some Tea Partiers with black friends, so shut up, that's why.
posted by Mayor West at 11:22 AM on September 30, 2010 [3 favorites]


No, no, no. David's right. I'll bet there are lots of ideas in the Tea Party and at least three or four completely different philosophies among them all.
posted by octobersurprise at 11:23 AM on September 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


It's NOT about race - it's about how much control/money the federal government wields.

But, coincidentally, only where that intersects with race.
posted by Artw at 11:26 AM on September 30, 2010


And members of the libertarian fringe would do well to ask themselves if their narrow area of agreement with these people is worth associating with the ugly main.

If you march with these people, you're marching for ALL the ideas.
posted by Trochanter at 11:35 AM on September 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


Just looking at the pictures, I swear you would think the movement was mostly made up of women.
GIS is not a scientific sample. One of the pictures is actually of a Code Pink rally.

And in general people prefer taking and looking at pictures of women. In fact a GIS for Obama Supporters seems to show mostly women, whereas a GIS for "facebook users" reveals them to be mostly various types of graphs
posted by delmoi at 11:46 AM on September 30, 2010


whereas a GIS for "facebook users" reveals them to be mostly various types of graphs

That's actually true. Three separate graphs friended me today.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:55 AM on September 30, 2010 [3 favorites]


Anyone who automatically thinks "racist!" upon hearing the words "Tea Party" is either willfully ignorant, hateful, or hopelessly deluded.

I've seen plenty of proof that the TP is choc-a-bloc with bigots and ignoramuses: surveys, platforms, interviews, and many of their actions.

I am interested to see credible documentation that shows otherwise.
posted by five fresh fish at 12:03 PM on September 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


they are concerned about the massive, immense, enormous federal budget, and the rate at which it is increasing

But, as the article points out, they (and by they I mean those who would one day become Teabaggers) were not concerned with the budget issue when Bush was torpedoing it with tax cuts for the rich and a ludicrously expensive, unnecessary war.

They didn't care until Obama started banging the health care drum, and now they're all fiscal conservatives. Their motives are beyond suspect.
posted by chaff at 12:19 PM on September 30, 2010 [6 favorites]


Anyone who automatically thinks "racist!" upon hearing the words "Tea Party" is either willfully ignorant, hateful, or hopelessly deluded.

Anyone who thinks that shit like this is anywhere near to as frequent in a democrat rally is fucking idiotic. To deny the massive over-representation of racist and bigoted expression in teabag congregations is to demonstrate one's own willingness to accept and accommodate such behavior.
posted by FatherDagon at 12:41 PM on September 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


If you march with these people, you're marching for ALL the ideas.

This is why we hate it when the FREE MUMIA people show up.
posted by cereselle at 12:42 PM on September 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


they are concerned about the massive, immense, enormous federal budget, and the rate at which it is increasing, and the growing level of government involvement in every aspect of life.

I know people claim this, and I know they want to believe it, and I know a few of them even do believe it. But it just doesn't make sense to me.

Go to a Tea Party rally, or visit an online forum, and find me an activist who can give me details (not talking points) about the federal budget, and I'll believe with you. Find me a Tea Party economist who can form a reasoned critique of the federal budget, and I'll believe you. But you won't be able to, because that is not and has never been the true focus of Tea Party activists.

And growing level of government involvement in every aspect of life?? Please. The last time I had any interaction with the government was 30 days ago when I went to the post office and mailed my rent check. It was a pretty painless experience. The time before that was when I renewed my driver's license in August -- online, paid by credit card, without having to visit the DMV. That one was pretty painless too. Before that, it was April 15. That one wasn't fun, but, hey, I'm a grown-up and I've been a grown-up for a while and I know what to expect on April 15. It's not a surprise, and it doesn't come close to being a "growing intrusion." It's what we do. We pay taxes. I accept that. The time before that was in December, when I flew 2000 miles to see my family for the holidays. Flying sucks nowadays, partly because of the TSA, but more so because the (non-governmental, deregulated, corporate) airlines have removed any allusion to customer service from the experience. So yeah, those two travel days were pretty awful, but the government interference portion of the suckiness was actually pretty minor.

Aside from preventing me to marry, which the Tea Partiers don't seem to be all that het up about, the government does not interfere with my life to any noticeable degree -- and certainly not on a daily basis. I really feel sorry for people who do have to face government intrusion on a daily or weekly basis. My sympathy isn't rooted in the fact that they have to deal with the government, but in the fact that they must be doing something very, very wrong to be prompting such a high level of involvement.

I guess it also helps that I don't mind brown people coming here for jobs, but that's another story.
posted by mudpuppie at 12:45 PM on September 30, 2010 [21 favorites]


Something that a lot of people don't realize is that The Jim Crow south did not develop directly after slavery. The Black codes, and the KKK, and the systematic and social disenfranchisement of Blacks came as a reaction to the gains made by Blacks in reconstruction era America. And while at the top of that reactionary movement, the wealthy landowners and politicans were able to hide behind ideas and philosophy about the rightful place of Blacks in American society, by the time those ideas and philosophies filtered down to the average poor white farmer, they looked a lot less like reasoned debate, and a lot more like lynchings and arson.

If you read any history of reconstruction era America, you'll see that the ideas and philosophies of the Tea Party are very much the same. The idea that somehow the government is advancing the cause of "others" as a form of punishment against regular god-fearing Americans (read:white folks). The whole Idea of conservatism=small government comes from the philosophy that big government equals carpetbaggers coming down here and telling us what to do with our negroes.

These same Ideas and philosophies have been brought forth every time Minorities in this country have made any significant gains. They were around up during the 20's when Black began to migrate North in large numbers. They were around in the 40's and 50's when Blacks began to make great economic and educational advancements. The same conservative ideals were used to combat the civil rights struggle of the 50's and 60's, and justified the almost complete and total decay of Urban America in the 1970's 80's.

Every push forward by Blacks in this country has been met by a forceful and effective erosion of those gains supported almost entirely by conservative political philosophy. And before someone trots out the excuse of "ancient history" keep in mind what happened in urban america in the 1970's, The complete devastation of entire communities under Ronald Reagan in the 80's, and statistics today showing completely horrific infant mortality rates, incarceration levels and educational failure in impoverished urban communities.

So when I hear Sarah Palin and the Tea Party leadership worshipping Reagan Conservatism and standing up for "Real Americans", I see them carrying the flag for an ongoing historical tradition of racist ideology. When Glenn Beck and the like say things like "we need to take our country back" I hear very real and direct connection to the Jim Crow era America that I only missed being born into by about 5 years.

The flip side of this whole story is that despite the efforts of the hateful and greedy few, The American ideal of equality for all men slowly moves forward. It is painful and awkward at times, but somehow we move forward. I can't say for sure how many Tea Partiers are racist in their hearts, and I really don't care.

What I can say for sure is that they are on the wrong side of history, and do not stand for progress, freedom or equality. For that reason, they should be ashamed of themselves.
posted by billyfleetwood at 12:49 PM on September 30, 2010 [46 favorites]


I have some GOP family members who are, at the very least, Tea Party sympathizers. Very anti-big government, the whole thing.

Anti-big government, eh? Maybe they'd support reducing the defense budget. We could cut it by $400 billion and still spend twice as much per year as China, the #2 military spender.

Anyone who automatically thinks 'racist!' upon hearing the words 'Tea Party' is either willfully ignorant, hateful, or hopelessly deluded.

When President Clinton left office there was an all-time record $128 billion surplus. President Bush turned that into an all-time record $482 billion deficit. The current Tea Party movement started in January/February 2009, after a black/biracial president took office. Where were these so-called fiscal conservatives when Bush blew the budget? Or when Reagan and Bush were raising defense spending?
posted by kirkaracha at 1:30 PM on September 30, 2010 [15 favorites]


Anyone who automatically thinks "racist!" upon hearing the words "Tea Party" is either willfully ignorant, hateful, or hopelessly deluded.

I don't want to present this as a list of beliefs necessary or sufficient to be considered a racist (I prefer the Astro Zombie / Jay Smooth analysis) but here's some data on what Tea Party members think about selected racial issues compared to USians overall (neither of which look good in this survey).

From last April's CBS/NYTimes poll (National opinion normal font, Tea party numbers in bold):
According to the Constitution, American Presidents must be “natural born citizens.” Some people say Barack Obama was NOT born in the United States, but was born in another country. Do YOU think Barack Obama was born in the United States, or was he born in another country?
Born in US 58 41
Another country 20 30
DK/NA 23 29
...
In general, do you think the policies of the Obama administration favor whites over blacks, favor blacks over whites, or do they treat both groups the same?
Favor whites over blacks 2 1
Favor blacks over whites 11 25
Treat both the same 83 65
DK/NA 5 9
...
In recent years, do you think too much has been made of the problems facing black people, too little has been made, or is it about right?
Too much 28 52
Too little 16 6
Just right 44 36
DK/NA 11 6
I'd love to see some surveys of TP beliefs about Obama's religion, mosques (in NYC or elsewhere), whether there should be racial or religious restrictions for legal immigration, interracial marriage, whether the Bell Curve thesis is correct, and so on, but I couldn't find any. MeMail me if anyone has this data.
posted by Marty Marx at 1:48 PM on September 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


This is why we hate it when the FREE MUMIA people show up.

And that's why we feel disconnected from any (electable) political movement and stay home on election day. :(

posted by mrgrimm at 1:56 PM on September 30, 2010


Some memorable moments in various Tea Parties not all being bigoted idiots, taken from the blue:
* Montana Tea Party president Tim Ravndall was fired from his leadership position, following remarks made online that implied his support for the public hanging of homosexuals
* National Tea Party Federation has expelled a significant part of its membership, the Tea Party Expressm, following racist comments from the leader of the TPE, Mark Williams.

OK, that was only two of the numerous teaparty-tagged posts, so I'd say that the Tea Party movement is largely racist, or at least has heavy racist undertones.
posted by filthy light thief at 1:57 PM on September 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


Both of those expulsions were in response to extreme publicity and public pressure, mind you. As soon as the heat died down, Mark Williams was welcomed back into the fold.
posted by kafziel at 2:56 PM on September 30, 2010 [4 favorites]


Ditto Tim Ravndal and the Montana Big Sky Tea Party, with the group citing it might take too long to officially remove him from the group. Plus, "some party members protested Ravndal's ouster and threatened to resign."

Do you have a source for Mark Williams being allowed back? From this recent summary of the various Tea Party factions, it sounds like the Tea Party Patriots and Tea Party Express are still split (I'm not even sure which TPP group they mean, as there seem to be many TPP groups). And look, the Tea Party Express totally aren't racist! That's conservative black singer Lloyd Marcus organizing the National Black Conservative Press Conference with/for the Tea Party Express! Those racist signs don't faze him.
posted by filthy light thief at 4:00 PM on September 30, 2010


The last time I had any interaction with the government was 30 days ago when I went to the post office and mailed my rent check.

The last time I interacted with the Federal Government was when I took a blob of dip on this cracker and ate it without getting food poisoning. And then there was that time an hour ago when my GPS showed me the quickest route to a store I'd never been to before. Damn you intrusive Federal Government!
posted by Jimmy Havok at 4:45 PM on September 30, 2010 [16 favorites]


we hate it when the FREE MUMIA people show up

...because we know that New York cops are heroes who are only doing their job to protect us when they shoot a black man, and would never lie under oath.
posted by Jimmy Havok at 5:03 PM on September 30, 2010


Whoops. Maybe the Philly cops are better than the New York cops...no, probably not...
posted by Jimmy Havok at 5:12 PM on September 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


broadway bill wrote: "Petersburg is, by the way, about 10 miles from Cincinnati, and around 45 minutes from Louisville; hardly "buried deep in the anus" of anything."

I believe the point is that Cincinnati is the anus of the Bible Belt.

And the last time I interacted with the federal government was when the dam they built supplied part of the energy used to run my computer so I could post this comment. Before that it was when the government-allocated frequencies used to distributed television signals to some contraptions that follow government-enacted standards allowed me to watch a moving picture on a screen.

Before that, I drove on a road that was partly built with federal money and several bridges over a river that were also built, in part, with federal money.

I'm dealing with the government all day, every day, and I hardly notice. Weird.
posted by wierdo at 8:14 PM on September 30, 2010


Do you have a source for Mark Williams being allowed back?

I do, actually.
posted by kafziel at 8:36 PM on September 30, 2010


I think the Mark Williams and Tim Ravndal stories are funny. That's some floatin' like a butterfly there.

[Chris Rock voice]: A big, stanky, RACIST BUTTERFLY!!
posted by Trochanter at 7:56 AM on October 1, 2010


Honestly, while there is a racist undercurrent to all this Tea Party rhetoric, I think it boils to a more basic reason: People want the easiest solution to a problem.

The Tea Party gives their followers "big government" and "the failure in values" as convenient vehicles to explain why these people's lives haven't gone according to plan and why they are losing their jobs. Never mind that most people likely don't want to do the jobs that Latinos currently do. The fact that these people are here is an easy explanation as to why the Tea Partiers don't have jobs and/or the money they feel they are entitled to.

You also have a group of people who for the most part are too lazy, disinterested, or stupid to do the due diligence to be able to form their own political opinions and have a rational basis for forming the same. So when a group of people come through and say that anyone who opposes their viewpoints is a socialist, it gives Tea Partiers a convenient way to mask their intellectual laziness.

Point being, people will take the easiest solution to a problem, and that is essentially what the Tea Partiers have done.
posted by reenum at 10:12 AM on October 1, 2010 [2 favorites]


Not really an undercurrent, though. Just one of the currents -- as much there as any other.

If, as octobersurprise says, there are four philosophies, I would think racial victimhood would be one of them.
posted by Trochanter at 11:56 AM on October 1, 2010


desjardins posted this Village Voice piece to the front page and it got nuked. Has White America Has Lost Its Mind?
posted by Trochanter at 1:42 PM on October 1, 2010


WTF? Are deletions on a hair trigger these days or what?
posted by Artw at 1:44 PM on October 1, 2010


The same link was posted in the still-open Taibbi Tea Party thread, which may be a contributing factor.
posted by box at 1:50 PM on October 1, 2010


Wait, this is the still-open... ah, it's been a long day.
posted by box at 1:51 PM on October 1, 2010


quin: You can see this characterized in their views on racism and government programs like welfare, it's so self serving that it almost pushes beyond standard hypocrisy. They don't see themselves as wrong, because they are working for what they believe is right. So anything they do, no matter how awful.

Thanks for that insight, quin. It reminds me of John Kessel's Creating The Innocent Killer, a critique of Orson Scott Card's much-celebrated novel Ender's Game.
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 1:52 PM on October 1, 2010


WTF? Are deletions on a hair trigger these days or what?

We don't really think so. Also, Metatalk would be a better place for this discussion if you want to have it.
posted by cortex at 2:07 PM on October 1, 2010


They don't see themselves as wrong, because they are working for what they believe is right.

It's not even that they believe that what they are working for is right, it is that they believe themselves to be existentially right. So whatever they do, no matter how awful, must be right. It's the White Hat Syndrome: we are the good guys, so what we do is good. Torture people to death? We're good, so it must be good. If the enemy rescues children from starvation, it must be bad, because the enemy is bad. The actual character of the actions never enters into the equation, only the presumed character of the actors.
posted by Jimmy Havok at 2:09 PM on October 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


So whatever they do, no matter how awful, must be right.

Agreed. That's what I was going for in my fractured and incomplete last sentence there;

"So anything they do [would be justified in their minds], no matter how awful".

posted by quin at 2:27 PM on October 1, 2010


Donald Duck Discovers Glenn Beck in "Right Wing Radio Duck"
posted by homunculus at 8:35 AM on October 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


It makes sense, doesn't it, to have the anger of a split nation directed at the government, the only powerful institution that is potentially democratic.

Bingo.

Also, notice that it's only a problem when "government" means the other side.
posted by krinklyfig at 4:42 PM on October 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


Twittergate: How Internet Jerks Pranked the Tea Party
posted by homunculus at 1:50 PM on October 9, 2010


notice that it's only a problem when "government" means the other side.

Just saw a quote from our state Attorney General where he admits he totally dropped the ball on an ongoing Medicare fraud. Does he 'fess up? No, he blames "government."
"Quite honestly, I don't think anybody can be proud of the fact that this scheme went on for more than a decade. The feds didn't see it. We didn't see it. It took a while, and that probably is not a great reflection on government," Bennett said.
I guess if there were no regulations, it wouldn't have been fraud, so he's sort of right.
posted by Jimmy Havok at 2:25 PM on October 9, 2010


Follow the Money: Industrialists who own private company with annual revenues of £62bn have channelled millions of dollars to rightwing causes.
posted by adamvasco at 12:23 AM on October 14, 2010


The Tea Party Will Be Watching You: Republican groups and tea party activists unite to block Democrats…err, voter fraud, at the polls.
posted by homunculus at 12:56 PM on October 18, 2010


"Unite"? Are they still pretending they aren;t the same damn thing?
posted by Artw at 1:17 PM on October 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


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