Brown Bagging It

Well, the NAACP’s report on how just awful the Tea Party movement is out, and it’s even more entertaining than I could have hoped. I have an idea of just how this came about:

“Mr. Jealous? It’s the massas from the DNC. They’re getting worried about those teabaggers, and are telling us to do a hit piece on them.”

“Well, when massa says jump, we jump. Get right on a report calling them all racists.”

“Sir, I’ve been looking into it, and the Tea Party isn’t that concerned with race, one way or another.”

“What? Unheard of. Everyone’s always thinking about race, every moment of the day — at least, everyone I know.”

“Not these people. Oh, yeah, a few, but they’re a real fringe.”

Hmph. Well, then, get out a report calling them all bigots.”

“That’s pretty much the same thing as ‘racist,’ sir.”

“Fine. Then call them white supremacists.”

“Still the same, sir.”

“How about ‘racial separatists?'”

“That’s what they call the racists on our side, sir. You know — people like Reverend Jeremiah Wright, the New Black Panthers, and those folks.”

“I thought I called them my ‘Thursday night poker buddies?'”

“That’s only in private, sir. We’ve talked about that.”

“Whatever. Oh, I’ve got it! We’ll call them ‘nationalists!'”

“‘Nationalists,’ sir? What do you mean by that?”

“It’s a bad word for ‘patriotism,’ but will remind folks of the Nazis — the National Socialists. Plus, it’s another word for racism.”

“What isn’t?”

“I beg your pardon?”

“Nothing, sir. I’ll get right on it.”

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The report hack job starts off with suitably mealy-mouthed platitudes:

We know the majority of Tea Party supporters are sincere, principled people of good will. That is why the NAACP–an organization that has worked to expose and combat racism in all its forms for more than 100 years–is thankful Devin Burghart, Leonard Zeskind and the Institute for Research & Education on Human Rights prepared this report that exposes the links between certain Tea Party factions and acknowledged racist hate groups in the United States. These links should give all patriotic Americans pause.

I hope the leadership and members of the Tea Party movement will read this report and take additional steps to distance themselves from those Tea Party leaders who espouse racist ideas, advocate violence, or are formally affiliated with white supremacist organizations. In our effort to strengthen our democracy and ensure rights for all, it is important that we have a reasoned political debate without the use of epithets, the threat of violence, or the resurrection of long discredited racial hierarchies.

Or, as Winston Churchill once said, “when you have to kill a man it costs nothing to be polite.”

OK, the niceties have been observed. Now for the meat of their report. And it’s pretty slim pickings — what isn’t rancid meat is poorly-disguised tofu.

Let’s start off with a part that has a bit of both.

On March 20, 2010 a Tea Party protest grew ugly as a small group of congressmen walked through them to the Capitol to vote on health care reform. Chants of “Kill the Bill” turned to racist slurs and name calling. Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) was called a “faggot.” Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) was called a “n…er,” and Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D. Mo.) was spit upon. Cleaver described the name calling as a “chorus.”[235] The meanness and racism of that particular event was compounded later by Tea Party leaders and others who claimed no such racist and bigoted name calling occurred.

The rancid part is that the opposition to ObamaCare is NOT inherently racist. There are a lot of reasons for opposing it, and damned few revolve around race. Simply because something is backed by Obama doesn’t make opposition to it automatically racist. There’s a hell of a lot more to him than half his genetic makeup, and to reduce him to “a black man” is racism in and of itself.

The artificial, tofu part? The part where John Lewis was called a nigger. It. Never. Happened.

I know it’s impossible to prove a negative, but I’m comfortable going out on a limb on this one. The Congressional Black Caucus’ march across the grounds of the Capitol was planned well in advance. There were about 2.7 zillion video cameras covering the event, from both the CBC and protesters — and not one of them caught the word. Further,not one of them caught anyone reacting to hearing the word. Andrew Breitbart has put up a $100,000 reward for video showing that it happened, and he’s still got his money.

Another member of the CBC, Emanuel Cleaver, also claimed to have been spat upon during the perp walk. This claim was walked back, and Cleaver later said that he was accidentally struck by spittle from a shouting protester, but you’d never know that from the NAACP’s report.

I’ve both been struck by spittle, and spat upon. There is a huge difference. In the former case, I was irritated and mildly grossed out. In the latter, I was ready to kill. (I was also a teenager at the time.) The difference is intent, and can readily be distinguished by… well, it’s somewhat disgusting, but you can figure it out.

Elsewhere in the report, the NAACP demonstrates how it simply doesn’t grasp the fundamental nature of the Tea Party movement, and instead projects what it sees as the “proper” way for organizing such groups. They identify a few leaders (usually folks that the NAACP doesn’t like and have, in some cases, earned universal contempt), takes those people’s claims of being “leaders” at face value, and runs with that.

The NAACP also calls the Tea Party “anti-immigrant,” but I’ve already dealt with that canard.

Here’s the NAACP’s report, in a nutshell:

“There are some bad people in the Tea Party. Here are some of them, who call themselves leaders of the movement. We call on the other leaders of the movement to stop what they’re doing RIGHT NOW and say bad things about these bad people, or they’re just as bad as the bad people.”

There is absolutely no point in addressing the NAACP’s report on a point-by-point basis, because to do so would be to accept that the entire report is flawed at its very root. It is literally rotten to the core, and quibbling over the details of rot on the surface is meaningless.

The Tea Party movement leadership is not racist. Nor is it obligated to prove it’s not racist.

That’s because the leadership — as the NAACP thinks of “leadership” — is nonexistent.

There is no national hierarchy to the Tea Party movement. No national structure. No charter, no code of conduct, no membership rolls, no Robert’s Rules Of Order. And that is deliberate.

Want to be part of the Tea Party? Just say so, and you are. Want to get out? Just say so, and you are. Want to kick someone else out? Forget it.

There is no central authority in the Tea Party to remove members. I understand that the NAACP is more familiar with structures like the Congressional Black Caucus, which has chosen to exclude black Republicans from membership, or the National Organization for Women, which has declared that women who are not sufficiently pro-choice are not really women who deserve the protection other “real” women get, but there’s no such Central Commissar Of Tea to enforce — or even make — such rulings.

And there’s a second blind spot that the NAACP is demonstrating here. They don’t grasp that the vast majority of people in the Tea Party movement are embodying — at least in this part of their lives — have achieved Dr. Martin Luther King’s dream. They are — unlike the NAACP — not only not obsessed with race, but utterly apathetic to the subject in this context.

The issues that unite the Tea Party are simple, and all boil down to “get the government off our backs.” Tax us less, spend less, spend more responsibly, and stop trying to control so much of our lives. Individual members and factions have other parts to their agenda, and the NAACP is correct on a few of them (if only under the “blind pig” principle if nothing else), but they are not representative of the whole — no matter how much they’d like to make them.

To the majority of Tea Partiers, race is utterly irrelevant to the unifying issues. And that is utterly incomprehensible to the professional race-obsessed drones at the NAACP.

Which is why they, too, are becoming utterly irrelevant.

And good riddance.

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