>> Sunday, March 21, 2010

Pundits like Joan Walsh are shocked, shocked, I tell you, that teabaggers hurled racial epithets at African American lawmakers attending this weekend's hearings on healthcare.

Really? Really?

I'm not trying to slag on Walsh, a columnist who I respect and whose work I enjoy. But is she really surprised that a bunch of racist, reactionary crackers acted like racist, reactionary crackers? Really? She writes about trying to understand these jackasses, trying to give them the benefit of human credentials--and that's why I respect her, actually, because, you know, it's good for some of us on the left to hold onto the hopes that spring eternal. But I had these crackers' number called six months ago, and so did President Jimmy Carter.

In a very real way, there's nothing shocking about some of the teabaggers calling elected officials and fellow Americans derogatory racist epithets as they go to do America's work, or large numbers of their fellows standing by silently. First, because the subset of ignoramuses responsive to the fear-mongering of the Becks, Limbaughs and Malkins overlaps nicely with the subset of ignoramuses who would join the Klan if it was still 1954. And second, because--well look at the picture I grabbed again, above, to illustrate this piece: second, because the teabagger movement has always essentially been a racist movement. If Hilary Clinton was President, these people might question her policies but they wouldn't question her legitimacy; they might accuse her of stealing an election, even, but they wouldn't question her American-ness.

What the teabag movement has done, really, is provided a nice, safe haven for America's remaining racists to gather under the umbrella of ostensibly attacking a policy. Attacking policies is a First Amendment prerogative, how dare anyone accuse them of being racists? And the media, by and large, has fallen for it. The teabaggers parade around using racist code and racist iconography--then shelter it behind a policy debate while well-meaning whites give them a benefit of a doubt because it's 2010 and surely we've come a long way since George Wallace.

Y'know, I'd like to be clear because I worry maybe I haven't been in my past derision: the teabagger movement deserves attention and respect. Just like Tom Metzger's White Aryan Resistance does, f'r'instance; because we should pay attention to and respect the enemies of human decency. They deserve mockery, too, because sarcasm and satire and plain old snottiness are righteous weapons against evil. But that's the kind of attention and respect they deserve--not the attention and respect you give the honorable opposition, not the attention and respect you give to reasonable minds that differ; the kind of attention and respect you give to the hateful, fearful, ignorant and dangerous.

I'm shocked, shocked, I tell you, that Joan Walsh and others are surprised by what happened this weekend. Maybe it's because I live down here where open racism has been such a part of the warp and weft of the culture, and people in New York and L.A. have conveniently forgotten the way their forebears treated "others." Maybe it's just an idealistic naïvete that allows some people to assume that hateful, awful people don't really mean what they're saying, have something legitimate to say that they just haven't been able to say artfully. I don't know. What I know is this: the "protesters" who shouted racial epithets at Representative John Lewis and who spat on Representative Emanuel Cleaver this weekend weren't saying or doing anything they didn't mean in September of last year; any "artfulness" they displayed was in hiding their ugly intent nominally well-enough for pure-hearted Northeastern and West Coast intellectual liberals to mistake what they were all about. I can only hope my fellow travelers North-and-West won't make that mistake twice now that the cretins have fully unmasked themselves to reveal what was obvious to some of us all along.

Photograph of Obama protester with racist sign ©2009 CNN.


Warner (aka ntsc) Sunday, March 21, 2010 at 10:56:00 AM EDT  

Eric, while if Hillary had been elected it wouldn't be racist spew, but there would have been spew.

The right wing nuts spent 8 years trying to get her husband, if he could have kept himself in his pants they would have found nothing.

Neighbors of my father in law bragged of having a cocktail party the day FDR died, in celebration. This was Westchester, they were still bragging in the early 80s.

Mrs. Bitch Sunday, March 21, 2010 at 12:07:00 PM EDT  

I take offense, offense I say, at the idea that my fellow Michiganders aren't just as inbred and racist and crackery as your southern acquaintances. Trust me when I say they are, and probably in the same percentage of population.

This is what's so sad about the whole racism thing. It's much, much more prevalent than anyone cares to admit. Most of the more refined of the knuckle-dragging set know enough to only spew their racist commentary to other whites (who they believe all secretly feel the same way).

Maybe I'm overreacting. Someone who lives in the south but who spent a lot of time in Michigan, said that they were shocked at what an outpost of strong racism this state is. All I know is it makes me sick.

I really think the only responses that can have any effect will be derision and scorn for their displays of backwardness and ignorance.

Mrs. Bitch Sunday, March 21, 2010 at 3:39:00 PM EDT  

Waaaayyy OT, but hey Eric, what did you think of Kung Fu Hustle?

Eric Sunday, March 21, 2010 at 4:58:00 PM EDT  

I looooooovvvvvvved Kung Fu Hustle. I was also amused when the landlady appeared on the screen--"HEY! I KNOW THAT WOMAN!"

It's a helluva lot of fun. I thought it would be--Shaolin Soccer was made of awesome, and the previews I'd seen of Hustle before I missed it in the theatre looked similarly awesome. I may need to buy the DVD.

Random Michelle K Sunday, March 21, 2010 at 6:08:00 PM EDT  

Warner, they went after Barney Frank as well.

The action of these cretins disgusts me.

poing = what spring does

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