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February 16th, 2010


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02:02 am - Musings on Deeply Scary White People
Here's a fairly disturbing article about the tea-party movement. It's also well worth looking at this series of images of these people - in crowds both large and small, images of non-hispanic white people, in a nation where such people now make up slightly less than 2/3 of the population. That other 35% are conspicuously absent from their ranks, and I'm betting that there are very few (if any) Jews among these people.

The article doesn't explicitly say so, but it's fairly clear what's going on. Bad economic times always brings out the crazies. For example, the midwestern farm foreclosures of the 70s brought out the midwestern white power crazies in droves. However, there were some fairly serious economic problems in 2002 with the whole dotcom crash, and the crazies were a lot less numerous than they are now.

To me, it's unfortunately clear what the reason for this difference is. In 2002, the president of the US was exactly the sort of aggressive white man that these people idolize (and voted for). Now, the fact that they see a black face when the president speaks is quite literally driving them nuts. I can only expect that because many of these people hate and fear black people, that they expect a black president to feel the same way about white people. In short, I'd expect these movement to be a lot smaller and talking about violence a whole lot less if we had a white man as president, and that's a very sad statement indeed.

The "Tea Party" crazies are more of the same that we've been seeing in the US for more than a century - resentment against & fear of non-white people, stockpiling weapons, a worship of "The Constitution", which they believe has been subverted by "activist judges" and the government - in short the jingoist version of religious fundamentalism, combined with the more modern right-wing standard beliefs of global-warming denial, homophobia, and a worship of the "free market".

In any case, my hope is that these nuts split the Republican party. There seems enough anger at all political organizations among this crowd that they are proving more difficult for the Republicans to co-opt than I expected, and they are also dedicated to ridding the Republican party of anyone who isn't sufficiently far right, which will hopefully drive less extreme voters away in droves.

(12 comments | Leave a comment)

Comments:


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From:nancylebov
Date:February 16th, 2010 11:14 am (UTC)
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What do you think would have happened if Colin Powell had become president?
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From:heron61
Date:February 16th, 2010 11:23 am (UTC)
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Beyond the obvious impossibility of anyone black winning the Republican presidential nomination, I'd expect almost the same degree of fervor. Some of what's happening is clearly the same sort of conservative hatred Bill Clinton received, but there's also a whole other level. The "birthers" are a specifically racist phenomena and they're closely associated with the tea-party movement. I think much of the issue is frighteningly simple - white bigots see a black president and believe that "their" nation is being taken away from them that thus start talking about "fighting back".
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From:rjgrady
Date:February 16th, 2010 06:03 pm (UTC)
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The Republican gubernatorial primary has turned into a cage fight for the Republicans.
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From:rjgrady
Date:February 16th, 2010 06:03 pm (UTC)
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In Texas, in case that wasn't obvious.
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From:krinndnz
Date:February 18th, 2010 02:37 pm (UTC)
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There's more than a little of that here in California, too.
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From:edwarddain
Date:February 16th, 2010 07:57 pm (UTC)
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In any case, my hope is that these nuts split the Republican party.

Mine as well. I think it is the best we can hope for.
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From:dulcimergoddess
Date:February 17th, 2010 01:04 am (UTC)
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i had similar thoughts when i read the article. when will our society ever let go of racism? ugh.
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From:kitten_goddess
Date:February 17th, 2010 06:38 pm (UTC)
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I can see where the tea partiers could be genuinely confused about climate change. Until recently, the term used was "global warming," which made me wonder, "If the planet's getting warmer, what's up with this cold weather?" every winter.

When the term was updated to "climate change," I understood that not only global warming was involved.

However, that does not excuse them for their ignorance about health care and other topics. I have heard time and again anecdotes about tea partiers on Medicare bitching about socialized medicine. That level of cluelessness discredits them to anyone outside their movement.
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From:xuenay
Date:February 17th, 2010 09:53 pm (UTC)
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Interesting. I hadn't heard of this movement before.

From the article:

They are frequently led by political neophytes who prize independence and tell strikingly similar stories of having been awakened by the recession. Their families upended by lost jobs, foreclosed homes and depleted retirement funds, they said they wanted to know why it happened and whom to blame.

I find it interesting that losing your money due to the recession is pushing people to a libertarian movement. Around here, recessions have traditionally increased the socialist parties' support, as people realize they need stronger safety nets. Of course, that requires a feeling that those safety nets are good for something in the first place, which I assume is lacking for the Tea Party people.

It will be curious to see if something good might come out of this movement. At least they seem intent on restoring some of the civil liberties the US has lost after 9/11, as well as restricting the power of corporations. Of course, attempts by well-meaning but not financially and politically savvy people to restrict the power of corporations have a rather high probability of just advancing corporate interests in the long run. (See e.g. the amount of people opposing attempts to reform copyright law, believing the reformers of all people to be in the pay of the media industry.)

This doesn't seem like a movement that will prize rationality and careful deliberation very much, which suggests they'll do more harm than good even with their better goals. On the upside, it suggests their clearly nasty goals also have a lesser chance of succeeding. If nothing else, they might improve the position of the Democrats by stealing enough Republican voters in the next elections.
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From:heron61
Date:February 17th, 2010 10:01 pm (UTC)
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I find it interesting that losing your money due to the recession is pushing people to a libertarian movement. Around here, recessions have traditionally increased the socialist parties' support, as people realize they need stronger safety nets. Of course, that requires a feeling that those safety nets are good for something in the first place, which I assume is lacking for the Tea Party people.

Indeed. The problem is that the far right has managed to convince much of the US populace that government is inherently useless, and combined with the fact that these people don't trust any government where the head of it is non-white and the result is seriously screwed up behavior.

This is standard US populism - with all the bigotry, anti-intellectualism, religious mania, and suchlike that this movement always entails. The only good I expect to see coming out of it is the destruction of anything like a unified conservative movement.
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From:krinndnz
Date:February 18th, 2010 02:40 pm (UTC)
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I wouldn't entirely mind if they split the Dems, too. I think that this country isn't coherent enough for two mainstream political parties - I'd love to see the infrastructure change so that we were dealing with, say, six or so. By my fantasy count, that'd make Plutocrats, Racists, and Dominionists mostly from former Republicans, and Noblesse Obligers, Greens, and Socialists mostly from former Dems.
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From:bodlon
Date:February 20th, 2010 02:06 am (UTC)
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So I've come to this post late, but it's gotten even weirder with the booing off of the guy who criticised CPAC for letting GOProud in, and Bob "I'm an anti-pagan douche" Barr calling waterboarding torture.

So. Confused.

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