Thursday, March 18, 2010

That's It for the Other One

I recently had an instructive exchange with a teabagger over on fivethirtyeight.com. This guy makes his teabagger meetings sound about as threatening as a sewing circle, filled with high-minded Hallmark rhetoric about reducing the size of Big Government for the safety and financial future of the country. Other readers on the blog have at times expressed concern over the racist and violent imagery coming from 'bagger rallies, but he consistently ignored these comments.

Just for fun, I called him on it and accused him of sticking his head in the sand. His response essentially implied that said reports were a figment of the liberal imagination and the neither I nor anyone else could cite actual instances of racist imagery or threats of violence. When I provided citations, he answered (I think this was the point) that he personally had an African-American minister and that therefore there was no racism or violence among the 'baggers.

Now, this guy is a supercilious twit whose intellectual reach doesn't go any further than a melange of Republican/Libertarian talking points. It was all too easy to yank his chain (forgive me, Father, for I have sinned), so I told him to stop hiding behind his minister's robes and either quit the ostrich thing or admit that he agreed that racist and violent imagery was a legitimate teabagger tactic. He made a snarky, flip comment about the likely results of the November election. He didn't respond at all after I contributed (with citations) a revolting description of a typical lynching and asked if he could finally understand that threats of sexually mutilating our African-American president coupled with calls for states' rights might seem racist to some people. I concluded that he was a fellow traveler with purveyors of racism and violence pornography, and said so. (I rather liked that phrase!)

So, are the teabbaggers racist? Even I will concede that if an African-American conservative showed up at a 'bagger coven, he or she would be greeted with open arms. But what if fifty or a hundred appeared? What if the group was a mix of African-Americans and Latino immigrants? That they would be welcomed, I'm less sure about.

At heart, there's a nativism or tribalism underlying 'bagger meetings that makes them little different in spirit than an Afghan mountain man using homemade weapons to repel outsiders. That's why the 'baggers hate Obama, don't like immigrants, and in fact don't like anyone who doesn't agree with them right down the line. They claim to love America, but it's a peculiar kind of a America composed exclusively of members of their tribe. They love America, maybe, but in the end they hate most Americans.

At one level, it's easy to understand the impulse and even sympathize with it. The 'baggers feel invaded, and history is replete with invaders who conquer and enslave. Pretty soon the paranoia about the Other kicks in, the talk of violent resistance and civil war grows, the paranoia escalates, and the anger grows more intense.

But just because the impulse is understandable doesn't mean we can't or shouldn't rise above it. I mean, isn't that what we're called to do either by our god or by our consciences? The liberal imagination not only allows for a diverse world, it celebrates the possibilities of such a world. The 'baggers see this as naive, no doubt, as they reach for their guns and agitate for open carry laws. Maybe so, but I'd much rather live in my world than theirs. At least I'm not afraid to go to downtown Seattle in the daytime and least I love Americans.

Last week, the 'baggers mustered only a few hundred people to protest health care legislation, not exactly the March on Washington. Over time, I don't think the 'bagger backlash can survive its lack of know-how. Ironically, what they need most in order to last as an independent movement are the skills that only community organizers bring to the table. In other words, they need ACORN and Barack Obama, the one group and the one person they despise above all others. Sometimes, life is funny...

Hawaii sez "Enough! No more requests for birth certificates! He was born here, already"...

7 comments:

Roy said...

I've had to deal with that supercilious attitude from teabaggers, too. The religious right uses it as well. That's one of the reasons I've stopped trying to talk to them; they're not listening, and they don't intend to listen. Ever. It's a telling point about the emotional maturity of these people that their reaction to everybody's ideas but their own is to cover their ears and sing loudly like a three-year-old.

Re: birthers... Have you been reading about Orly Taitz lately? That woman is right off her nut! I used to think Alan Keyes was off his made, but Taitz makes Keyes look like the model of sanity. I fully expect to read an article some day soon describing how they've had to haul her out of a courtroom in a straitjacket, raving all the way.

K. said...

I just watched this. She must have gone to law school at the University of Batshit Crazy. She couldn't elected dogcatcher in Alabama much less Sec'y of State in California.

ZenYenta said...

Of course it's racist. And xenophobic. I think that a lot of them would welcome tame "others" whose presence would prove their colorblindness to the world, but it's clearly a group who is driven mad by the idea of a black president, but even more so by a black president with one parent who was from another country, no less.

K. said...

ZY, I agree, and also think that there is a lot of self-loathing going on, too. They see a black man born in modest circumstances to a single mother who went on to attend elite schools and rise to the absolute top. Instead of viewing it as a remarkable success story, they see it as evidence of their own failures and of a country that has left its founding race behind.

There was, I believe, a like dynamic with Bill Clinton, whose story is similar to Obama's. In Clinton's case, they directed their anger to someone who had rejected his origins, which were much like theirs.

At one level, it's sad. But there's so much racism and violence that I can't waste effort feeling sorry for them.

Rastamick61 said...

Listened with schadenfreudean glee to a local right winger on my drive home today. He was rallying his defeated troops with the usual fear and loathing cards and they were eating it up. He actually said it took all this time to build up a great country and Obama has destroyed it in a year and a half. I guess somehow the record foreclosures, layoffs, bankruptcies, oil and insurance company profits somehow escaped his watch over the 8 year term of idiot boy. I do love listening to them wail and gnash their teeth in the dark.

K. said...

Not to mention the illegal and unjustified war that divided the country, disregarded the Constitution, plunged us into debt, and sapped our international prestige. Or the abandonment of hundreds of thousands of Americans to their fate in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Ugh.

Of course, by their lights the country was the great creation of conservative white Christians and is being destroyed by Negroes, Mexicans, and liberals. In this narrative, we're already in the middle of a civil war in which the next step will be to disarm them by eviscerating the 2nd Amendment.

How does health care figure in? Well, guess who, in their minds, are the uninsured? They see health care reform as a grab by the Obama-Reid-Pelosi Axis of Evil to reduce white economic power and transfer it to the minority shock troops that put Obama into office just after they somehow managed to ruin the housing market because of legislation passed by Barney Frank, which makes all of this part the "Homosexual Agenda" too. It's that twisted and paranoid.

Editilla~New Orleans Ladder said...

Afterbirther Peon Envy of the Coming Palinate,
hear this you flaccid fallacidomites:
the 1st Mistake in Berlin was not dragging you pusillanimous man-pussies out into the Street, stripped, tar'd and feather'd through the Brandenburg Gate for the ignomaniacle freak'o'lays you really are.
The trouble with Bullies is that they never got an Ice Pick through their Eye.
We don'play nice,
we don'play fair.
We gonna put you down
like a Ol'Yeller.

Thank you
and noshit, your Word Thingy Formicator (WTFr) for this comment???
Drum Roll and a Bagel!
"gramisms"
GRAMISMS
Really, pay phones ringing down the street before you even think of going there... a lithe blue baggie in the change slot... and rain rain rain.