Thursday, April 29, 2010

What if The Tea Party was Black-Led and Black-Majority?

 [image is from here]

To those who deny the racism of the Tea Party, all you need to do is imagine that the Black to white ratio of the loose-knit group, admittedly of several different streams of political thought and ideology, were reversed.

First up, this piece by white anti-racism activist, Tim Wise:


“Imagine if the Tea Party Was Black”

by Tim Wise

Let’s play a game, shall we? The name of the game is called “Imagine.” The way it’s played is simple: we’ll envision recent happenings in the news, but then change them up a bit. Instead of envisioning white people as the main actors in the scenes we’ll conjure – the ones who are driving the action – we’ll envision black folks or other people of color instead. The object of the game is to imagine the public reaction to the events or incidents, if the main actors were of color, rather than white. Whoever gains the most insight into the workings of race in America, at the end of the game, wins.

So let’s begin.

Imagine that hundreds of black protesters were to descend upon Washington DC and Northern Virginia, just a few miles from the Capitol and White House, armed with AK-47s, assorted handguns, and ammunition. And imagine that some of these protesters —the black protesters — spoke of the need for political revolution, and possibly even armed conflict in the event that laws they didn’t like were enforced by the government? Would these protester — these black protesters with guns — be seen as brave defenders of the Second Amendment, or would they be viewed by most whites as a danger to the republic? What if they were Arab-Americans? Because, after all, that’s what happened recently when white gun enthusiasts descended upon the nation’s capital, arms in hand, and verbally announced their readiness to make war on the country’s political leaders if the need arose.

Imagine that white members of Congress, while walking to work, were surrounded by thousands of angry black people, one of whom proceeded to spit on one of those congressmen for not voting the way the black demonstrators desired. Would the protesters be seen as merely patriotic Americans voicing their opinions, or as an angry, potentially violent, and even insurrectionary mob? After all, this is what white Tea Party protesters did recently in Washington.

Imagine that a rap artist were to say, in reference to a white president: “He’s a piece of shit and I told him to suck on my machine gun.” Because that’s what rocker Ted Nugent said recently about President Obama.

Imagine that a prominent mainstream black political commentator had long employed an overt bigot as Executive Director of his organization, and that this bigot regularly participated in black separatist conferences, and once assaulted a white person while calling them by a racial slur. When that prominent black commentator and his sister — who also works for the organization — defended the bigot as a good guy who was misunderstood and “going through a tough time in his life” would anyone accept their excuse-making?

Would that commentator still have a place on a mainstream network? Because that’s what happened in the real world, when Pat Buchanan employed as Executive Director of his group, America’s Cause, a blatant racist who did all these things, or at least their white equivalents: attending white separatist conferences and attacking a black woman while calling her the n-word.

Imagine that a black radio host were to suggest that the only way to get promoted in the administration of a white president is by “hating black people,” or that a prominent white person had only endorsed a white presidential candidate as an act of racial bonding, or blamed a white president for a fight on a school bus in which a black kid was jumped by two white kids, or said that he wouldn’t want to kill all conservatives, but rather, would like to leave just enough—“living fossils” as he called them—“so we will never forget what these people stood for.” After all, these are things that Rush Limbaugh has said, about Barack Obama’s administration, Colin Powell’s endorsement of Barack Obama, a fight on a school bus in Belleville, Illinois in which two black kids beat up a white kid, and about liberals, generally.

Imagine that a black pastor, formerly a member of the U.S. military, were to declare, as part of his opposition to a white president’s policies, that he was ready to “suit up, get my gun, go to Washington, and do what they trained me to do.” This is, after all, what Pastor Stan Craig said recently at a Tea Party rally in Greenville, South Carolina.

Imagine a black radio talk show host gleefully predicting a revolution by people of color if the government continues to be dominated by the rich white men who have been “destroying” the country, or if said radio personality were to call Christians or Jews non-humans, or say that when it came to conservatives, the best solution would be to “hang ‘em high.” And what would happen to any congressional representative who praised that commentator for “speaking common sense” and likened his hate talk to “American values?” After all, those are among the things said by radio host and best-selling author Michael Savage, predicting white revolution in the face of multiculturalism, or said by Savage about Muslims and liberals, respectively. And it was Congressman Culbertson, from Texas, who praised Savage in that way, despite his hateful rhetoric.

Imagine a black political commentator suggesting that the only thing the guy who flew his plane into the Austin, Texas IRS building did wrong was not blowing up Fox News instead. This is, after all, what Anne Coulter said about Tim McVeigh, when she noted that his only mistake was not blowing up the New York Times.

Imagine that a popular black liberal website posted comments about the daughter of a white president, calling her “typical redneck trash,” or a “whore” whose mother entertains her by “making monkey sounds.” After all that’s comparable to what conservatives posted about Malia Obama on freerepublic.com last year, when they referred to her as “ghetto trash.”

Imagine that black protesters at a large political rally were walking around with signs calling for the lynching of their congressional enemies. Because that’s what white conservatives did last year, in reference to Democratic party leaders in Congress.

In other words, imagine that even one-third of the anger and vitriol currently being hurled at President Obama, by folks who are almost exclusively white, were being aimed, instead, at a white president, by people of color. How many whites viewing the anger, the hatred, the contempt for that white president would then wax eloquent about free speech, and the glories of democracy? And how many would be calling for further crackdowns on thuggish behavior, and investigations into the radical agendas of those same people of color?

To ask any of these questions is to answer them. Protest is only seen as fundamentally American when those who have long had the luxury of seeing themselves as prototypically American engage in it. When the dangerous and dark “other” does so, however, it isn’t viewed as normal or natural, let alone patriotic. Which is why Rush Limbaugh could say, this past week, that the Tea Parties are the first time since the Civil War that ordinary, common Americans stood up for their rights: a statement that erases the normalcy and “American-ness” of blacks in the civil rights struggle, not to mention women in the fight for suffrage and equality, working people in the fight for better working conditions, and LGBT folks as they struggle to be treated as full and equal human beings.

And this, my friends, is what white privilege is all about. The ability to threaten others, to engage in violent and incendiary rhetoric without consequence, to be viewed as patriotic and normal no matter what you do, and never to be feared and despised as people of color would be, if they tried to get away with half the shit we do, on a daily basis.

Game Over.

[end of Tim Wise's writing]

*          *          *

The last section of this post contains the recent sample study that was done of the Tea Party by CBS News and The New York Times, from *here*. But first, I'm going to rewrite parts of it [THIS IS FICTION, FOLKS] and tell me what you think the U.S. government reaction would be with the changes I make.

They're Black. They're all ages. And they're angry.

Democracy Now and the Black Press USA surveyed 1,580 adults, including 881 self-identified Tea Party supporters, to get a snapshot of the Tea Party movement. There is a lot of information to unpack; let's begin with the demographics.

Eighteen percent of Americans identify as Tea Party supporters. The vast majority of them -- 89 percent -- are Black. Just one percent is white.

They tend to be all ages: Three in four are 25 years old or older, including 29 percent who are 45 plus. They are also more likely to be women (59 percent) than men (41 percent).

More than one in three (36 percent) hails from the South, far more than any other region. Twenty-five percent come from the West, 22 percent from the Midwest, and 18 percent from the northeast. 

More than half (54 percent) identify as Democrats, and another 41 percent say they are independents. Just five percent call themselves Republicans, compared to 31 percent of adults nationwide.

Nearly three in four describe themselves as liberal, and 39 percent call themselves very liberal. Sixty percent say they always or usually vote Democratic. Forty percent say the United States needs a third party, while 52 percent say it does not.

They are more likely than American adults overall to attend religious services weekly (38 percent do so) and to call themselves evangelical (39 percent). Sixty-one percent are Protestant, and another 22 percent are Muslim.

More than half -- 58 percent -- keep a gun in the household.

More than three in four Tea Party supporters (78 percent) have never attended a rally or donated to a group; most have also not visited a Tea Party Web site.

For the purposes of the poll, those who have attended a rally or donated to a group have been deemed Tea Party "activists." Four percent of Americans fall into this category.

Tea Party activists tend to be even angrier, more pessimistic about the country and more negative about white leadership than other Americans who identify as part of the Tea Party movement.

What They Believe

Fifty-three percent of Tea Party supporters describe themselves as "angry" about the way things are going in Washington, compared to 19 percent of Americans overall who say they are angry.

Asked what they are most angry about, the top four answers among Tea Party supporters who identify as angry were the lack of health care (16 percent), the government not representing the people (14 percent), government military spending (11 percent) and unemployment and the economy (8 percent).

More than nine in ten (92 percent) say America is has been on the wrong track for the last ten or more years, while just six percent say the country is headed in the right direction. Fifty-nine percent of Americans overall say the country is on the wrong track.

Eighty-eight percent disapproved of George W. Bush's performance on the job, compared to 60 percent of Americans overall. While half of Americans approved of Mr. Bush's job performance, just seven percent of Tea Party supporters say he did a good job.

Asked to volunteer what they didn't like about Mr. Bush, the top answer, offered by 19 percent of Tea Party supporters, was that they just don't like him. Eleven percent said he turned the country more toward a highly corporately controlled and oppressive capitalism that is concentrating the wealth among very corrupt leaders of financial institutions and other systems that are deeply racist, ten percent cited his flagrant disregard of health care for poor working people, and nine percent said he was dishonest.

Seventy-seven percent describe Mr. Bush as "very conservative," compared to 31 percent of Americans overall. Fifty-six percent say that president's policies favor the rich, compared to 27 percent of Americans overall.

Sixty-four percent believe that the former president decreased taxes for the most wealthy Americans. Thirty-four percent of the general public says the president has raised taxes on the most wealthy Americans.

While most Americans (58 percent) say the president understands their needs and problems, just 2.4 percent of Tea Party supporters agree. Just one in five say the former president shared the values of most Americans.

Only one percent of Tea Party supporters approved of the job Congress is doing, compared to 17 percent of Americans overall.

Twenty-four percent of Tea Party supporters say it is sometimes justified to take violent action against the government. That compares to 16 percent of Americans overall who say violence against the government is sometimes justified.
 
Sixty-three percent say they get the majority of their political and current events news on television from the Network News Channels, compared to 23 percent of Americans overall. Forty-seven percent say television is their main source of Tea Party information, the top source; another 24 percent say they get Tea Party information from the internet.

Nearly half say the main goal of the movement is to male the federal government responsive to and accountable to the people, far outdistancing any other consideration. Just seven percent say the goal of the movement is to elect Tea Party candidates.

An overwhelming majority of Tea Party supporters, 84 percent, say the views of the Tea Party movement do not reflect the views of most Americans. Americans overall agree: Just 25 percent say the Tea Party movement reflects their beliefs, while 36 percent say it does not.

Gross Corporate Capitalism, Fascistic Conservatism, and Tea Party Leaders
Ninety-two percent of Tea Party supporters believe President Bush's policies were moving the country toward fascism and a stronger and more virulent form of white supremacy. Fifty-two percent of Americans overall share that belief.

Asked what fascistic conservatism and corporate capitalism means, roughly half of Tea Party supporters said corporate ownership and control of government against the needs of the people, far more than any other answer. Eleven percent cited taking away civil rights and eliminating fought for freedoms, and eight percent said it means the concentration of wealth increasingly into the hands of the top few percent of the country's rich.

Thirty percent of Tea Party supporters believe Mr. Bush was born on another planet, despite some evidence to the contrary. Another 29 percent say they don't know. Twenty percent of Americans overall, one in five, believe the president was not born on Earth.

Tea Party supporters were asked in the poll what they thought of a few notable figures. The most popular was Malcolm X, who is viewed favorably by 66 percent of people in the movement. Only 40 percent, however, believe he would have been an effective president, a smaller percentage than Democrats overall.

Fifty-nine percent of Tea Party supporters hold onto a favorable impression of the Black Panther Party. Nearly as many, 57 percent, had a favorable impression of former President Bill Clinton, due to his role in lowering the deficit.
 
Tea Party Supporters on the Issues
Tea Party supporters are equally concerned with economic and social issues. Fifty-eight percent say economic issues are a bigger concern, while 42 percent point to social issues.

They are more likely than Republicans and Americans overall to see racist anti-immigration laws and attitudes as a serious problem (82 percent).

Sixty-four percent say the Roe v. Wade decision was a good thing (compared to 53 percent of Americans overall), 40 percent support same-sex marriage and civil unions (compared to 30 percent overall) and 30 percent want gun control laws eased (compared to 16 percent overall).

Ninety-three percent describe the economy as at miserable, and 42 percent say it is getting worse. Fifty-eight percent believe America's best years have yet to occur when it comes to good jobs for African Americans, compared to 25 percent of Americans overall.

Eighty-nine percent say the president has expanded the role of corporations too much. More than three in four say lowering the corporate control over government is more important than corporations creating new jobs.

And while the vast majority support the health care reform bill, 62 percent say programs like Social Security and Medicare are worth the costs to taxpayers. (The figure is even higher among Americans overall, at 76 percent.)

Views on Race
Tea Party supporters are more likely than Americans overall to believe whites have more opportunities to get ahead than blacks.

Just 16 percent of Tea Party supporters say Blacks have more opportunities to get ahead, compared to 31 percent of all Americans. Three percent say both have equal opportunity, compared to 60 percent of Americans overall.

Fifty-two percent believe too much has been made of the problems facing white people. Far fewer Americans overall -- 28 percent -- believe as much. Among non-Tea Party whites, the percentage who say too much attention has been paid to the problems of whites people is 23 percent.

A majority of Tea Party suppers believe the Bush administration treated both blacks and whites differently; nine in ten believe the administration favored whites over blacks, an opinion shared by just 11 percent of Americans overall and seven percent of non-Tea Party whites.

*          *          *

CBS News Poll analysis by the CBS News Polling Unit: Sarah Dutton, Jennifer De Pinto, Fred Backus and Anthony Salvanto.
(Credit: AP)
They're white. They're older. And they're angry.

CBS News and the New York Times surveyed 1,580 adults, including 881 self-identified Tea Party supporters, to get a snapshot of the Tea Party movement. There is a lot of information to unpack; let's begin with the demographics.

Eighteen percent of Americans identify as Tea Party supporters. The vast majority of them -- 89 percent -- are white. Just one percent is black.

They tend to skew older: Three in four are 45 years old or older, including 29 percent who are 65 plus. They are also more likely to be men (59 percent) than women (41 percent).

More than one in three (36 percent) hails from the South, far more than any other region. Twenty-five percent come from the West, 22 percent from the Midwest, and 18 percent from the northeast.

(Credit: CBS)
 
They are better educated than most Americans: 37 percent are college graduates, compared to 25 percent of Americans overall. They also have a higher-than-average household income, with 56 percent making more than $50,000 per year.


More than half (54 percent) identify as Republicans, and another 41 percent say they are independents. Just five percent call themselves Democrats, compared to 31 percent of adults nationwide.

Nearly three in four describe themselves as conservative, and 39 percent call themselves very conservative. Sixty percent say they always or usually vote Republican. Forty percent say the United States needs a third party, while 52 percent say it does not.

They are more likely than American adults overall to attend religious services weekly (38 percent do so) and to call themselves evangelical (39 percent). Sixty-one percent are Protestant, and another 22 percent are Catholic.

More than half -- 58 percent -- keep a gun in the household.

More than three in four Tea Party supporters (78 percent) have never attended a rally or donated to a group; most have also not visited a Tea Party Web site.

For the purposes of the poll, those who have attended a rally or donated to a group have been deemed Tea Party "activists." Four percent of Americans fall into this category.

Tea Party activists tend to be even angrier, more pessimistic about the country and more negative about President Obama than other Americans who identify as part of the Tea Party movement. For a breakdown of the beliefs of these activists, click here.

What They Believe
(Credit: AP)

Fifty-three percent of Tea Party supporters describe themselves as "angry" about the way things are going in Washington, compared to 19 percent of Americans overall who say they are angry.


Asked what they are most angry about, the top four answers among Tea Party supporters who identify as angry were the health care reform bill (16 percent), the government not representing the people (14 percent), government spending (11 percent) and unemployment and the economy (8 percent).

More than nine in ten (92 percent) say America is on the wrong track, while just six percent say the country is headed in the right direction. Fifty-nine percent of Americans overall say the country is on the wrong track.
Eighty-eight percent disapprove of President Obama's performance on the job, compared to 40 percent of Americans overall. While half of Americans approve of Mr. Obama's job performance, just seven percent of Tea Party supporters say he is doing a good job.

Asked to volunteer what they don't like about Mr. Obama, the top answer, offered by 19 percent of Tea Party supporters, was that they just don't like him. Eleven percent said he is turning the country more toward socialism, ten percent cited his health care reform efforts, and nine percent said he is dishonest.

Seventy-seven percent describe Mr. Obama as "very liberal," compared to 31 percent of Americans overall. Fifty-six percent say the president's policies favor the poor, compared to 27 percent of Americans overall.
Sixty-four percent believe that the president has increased taxes for most Americans, despite the fact that the vast majority of Americans got a tax cut under the Obama administration. Thirty-four percent of the general public says the president has raised taxes on most Americans.

While most Americans (58 percent) say the president understands their needs and problems, just 24 percent of Tea Party supporters agree. Just one in five say the president shares the values of most Americans.
Only one percent of Tea Party supporters approve of the job Congress is doing, compared to 17 percent of Americans overall.

Twenty-four percent of Tea Party supporters say it is sometimes justified to take violent action against the government. That compares to 16 percent of Americans overall who say violence against the government is sometimes justified.
(Credit: CBS)
 
Sixty-three percent say they get the majority of their political and current events news on television from the Fox News Channel, compared to 23 percent of Americans overall. Forty-seven percent say television is their main source of Tea Party information, the top source; another 24 percent say they get Tea Party information from the internet.


Nearly half say the main goal of the movement is to reduce the role of the federal government, far outdistancing any other consideration. Just seven percent say the goal of the movement is to elect Tea Party candidates.

An overwhelming majority of Tea Party supporters, 84 percent, say the views of the Tea Party movement reflect the views of most Americans. But Americans overall disagree: Just 25 percent say the Tea Party movement reflects their beliefs, while 36 percent say it does not.

Socialism, The Birther Movement, and Tea Party Leaders
Ninety-two percent of Tea Party supporters believe President Obama's policies are moving the country toward socialism. Fifty-two percent of Americans overall share that belief.

Asked what socialism means, roughly half of Tea Party supporters volunteered government ownership or control, far more than any other answer. Eleven percent cited taking away rights or limiting freedom, and eight percent said it means the redistribution of wealth.

Thirty percent of Tea Party supporters believe Mr. Obama was born in another country, despite ample evidence to the contrary. Another 29 percent say they don't know. Twenty percent of Americans overall, one in five, believe the president was not born in the United States. (More on this part of the poll here.)

Tea Party supporters were asked in the poll what they thought of a few notable figures. The most popular was Sarah Palin, who is viewed favorably by 66 percent of people in the movement. Only 40 percent, however, believe she would be an effective president, a smaller percentage than Republicans overall.

Fifty-nine percent of Tea Party supporters have a favorable impression of Glenn Beck. Nearly as many, 57 percent, have a favorable impression of former President George W. Bush, despite his role in raising the deficit and overseeing TARP bailout of the financial sector.

Just 35 percent view John McCain favorably, and 28 percent view Ron Paul favorably. (More on this part of the poll here.)

(Credit: CBS)
 
Tea Party Supporters on the Issues
Tea Party supporters are more concerned with economic than social issues. Seventy-eight percent say economic issues are a bigger concern, while 14 percent point to social issues.

They are more likely than Republicans and Americans overall to see illegal immigration as a serious problem (82 percent), doubt the impact of global warming (66 percent) and call the bank bailout unnecessary (74 percent).
Fifty-three percent say the Roe v. Wade decision was a bad thing (compared to 34 percent of Americans overall), 40 percent oppose same-sex marriage and civil unions (compared to 30 percent overall) and 30 percent want gun control laws eased (compared to 16 percent overall).

(At left, watch CBS News correspondent Dean Reynolds' report on the tea party and the poll.) Ninety-three percent describe the economy as at least somewhat bad, and 42 percent say it is getting worse. Fifty-eight percent believe America's best years are behind us when it comes to good jobs, compared to 45 percent of Americans overall.

Just ten percent say the stimulus package had a positive effect on the economy (compared to 32 percent of Americans overall), while 36 percent say it actually made things worse. More than half say it had no impact.
Eighty-nine percent say the president has expanded the role of government too much. More than three in four say lowering the federal government is more important than government spending to create jobs.

And while the vast majority opposes the health care reform bill, 62 percent say programs like Social Security and Medicare are worth the costs to taxpayers. (The figure is even higher among Americans overall, at 76 percent.)

Views on Race
Tea Party supporters are less likely than Americans overall to believe whites have more opportunities to get ahead than blacks.

Just 16 percent of Tea Party supporters say whites have more opportunities to get ahead, compared to 31 percent of all Americans. Seventy-three percent say both have equal opportunity, compared to 60 percent of Americans overall.

Fifty-two percent believe too much has been made of the problems facing black people. Far fewer Americans overall -- 28 percent -- believe as much. Among non-Tea Party whites, the percentage who say too much attention has been paid to the problems of black people is 23 percent.

A majority of Tea Party suppers believe the Obama administration treats both blacks and whites the same way. But one in four believe the administration favors blacks over whites, an opinion shared by just 11 percent of Americans overall and seven percent of non-Tea Party whites.

More on the Poll: Most Tea Partiers Believe Too Much Made of Problems Facing Blacks
Tea Partiers View Palin, Beck and Bush Favorably
Tea Party Activists Small but Passionate Group
"Birther" Myth Persists Among Tea Partiers, All Americans
Most Tea Party Supporters Say Their Taxes Are Fair
Bob Schieffer: Tea Partiers Not Just "A Bunch of Yahoos"
CBS Evening News: Tea Party Steeped in Fury
Read the Complete Poll on Who They Are (PDF)
Read the Complete Poll on What They Believe (PDF)


This poll was conducted among a random sample of 1,580 adults nationwide, interviewed by telephone April 5-12, 2010. Phone numbers were dialed from RDD samples of both standard land-lines and cell phones. The error due to sampling for results based on the entire sample could be plus or minus three percentage points. The error for subgroups is higher. 


An oversample of people who describe themselves as supporters of the Tea Party movement were interviewed, for a total of 881 interviews. The results were then weighted in proportion to the adult population. The margin of error for the sample of Tea Party supporters is three points. This poll release conforms to the Standards of Disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

2 comments:

Clarissa said...

Great post!!! Thank you so much for writing it! I don't even know whether to laugh or cry.

I'm so tired of people who keep coming to my blog trying to convince me that the Tea Party is NOT racist. The kind of selective blindness they need to generate in themselves in order not to see the obvious is truly amazing.

We need to speak out more again these racists to prevent them from selling themselves to the general public as a benign grassroots political movement. For the most part, the Tea Partiers cannot answer a single question about their goals or beliefs. But they all agree that they hate President Obama. Geez, I wonder why that would be.

Julian Real said...

[scratches head] Yeah, I wonder!

Seriously.

Thanks for commenting, Clarissa!