The Tea Party is Perverted and Irrelevant

Photo: HKDP (CC)

Photo: HKDP (CC)

Matt Taibbi mouths off in the wake of the Shirley Sherrod affair, at Rolling Stone:

“You don’t get control of the White House and two governors and the Justice Department, and then start arguing with people carrying signs.”Al Sharpton

Years ago a friend of mine in the media told me a story about an experience he had covering the execution of John Wayne Gacy in Joliet, Illinois. You won’t find anyone in the world who’d have been sad to see serial child murderer in a clown suit like Gacy die, but this reporter friend of mine said the crowd outside the prison on execution night freaked him out almost as much as Gacy had. There were something like 400 people outside the gates at Joliet and there were people selling commemorative t-shirts and pounding beers and chanting (“Kill the Clown!” was a popular one) all night.

At the moment of truth the crowd cheered and my friend turned to interview a scraggly-looking twenty-something with thinning long hair whom he described as looking like a too-old version of the Todd Ianuzzi mean-teenager character in Beavis and Butthead. The guy was into his second six-pack and smiling goofily like he’d just gotten a half-price rub-n-tug from a Thai massage parlor. He says to my friend: “You’re not against capital punishment, are you?”

“I’m not against capital punishment,” my friend says. “I’m against enjoying capital punishment.”

I’m with my friend on this one. As far as I see it, there are three positions on capital punishment. There’s being against it. There’s being for it. Then there’s putting six-packs of beer in a cooler and driving to a hideous prison complex in the middle of the night with four hundred strangers to cheer like fans at a baseball game for the execution of some fat old child killer. Dude, if that’s what you call recreation, you’re either dangerously bored or seriously fucked up.

Which brings me to the Shirley Sherrod business. Following this surreal episode involving a heretofore obscure black female USDA official – an episode in which almost everyone involved acted like a complete and utter buffoon, from Tom Vilsack to Ben Jealous to Bill O’Reilly – there’s really only one thing we can say with absolute certainty. And that’s this: there are a hell of a lot of people in this country who enjoy talking about racism way, way too much…

[continues at Rolling Stone]

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  • Your Mom

    This article is little more than a lengthy appeal to ridicule. Even when the Tea Partyers are correct (such as about an armed black man at an Obama event being misidentified as white), Taibbi again resorts to mockery.

    And once again, racism is bad … except racism against white people: “If he’s white, the scale of his assholedom is almost incalculable.”

    • Haystack

      There's a big difference between occasional incidences of prejudice, and pervasive, institutional racism. If you walk into a cancer ward and get indignant that nobody is paying attention to your runny nose, people will ridicule you. It's the same thing with white people complaining about racism.

  • Mantram

    Death penallty is a sign of a NOT civilizised society.

    • Hadrian999

      i disagree, death is much more civilized than decades living an a small box and “encounters” in the shower

  • Hadrian999

    if i won the lottery one of my ways to pass the time would be
    going to tparty events giving cash prizes to anyone who could pass a written test on “atlas shrugged”

    • champion

      Who is John Galt?

      • Andrew

        The hero of a popular fantasy novel.

  • Hadrian999

    the funny part about black vs. white racism is that white power groups love it.
    it's like christmas for them, it's one of their recruitment strategies you go in and provoke
    a backlash. say a white supremacist gang breaks into a school and puts up racist or neo nazi graffiti.
    then the minorities accuse or maybe retaliate against innocent white kids and then the gang sweeps in to “protect” those kids and listen to them and tell them how there is a war against whites. it's great for recruiting.
    don't let them kid you, white power types would be very sad if counter racism disappeared.

    • Haystack

      Most of the “counter-racism” I hear about is just white, middle-class people bellyaching because a black person called the “cracker” and no civil rights organization swooped in to vindicate them.

      • Librisgeek

        Racism is racism. How is there such a term as “counter racism”? Yes I agree with the premise “white power” groups = bad, but their existence alone does not justify racism against others who happen to have similar looking skin. The ironic thing on the sides of racists from any race is that, no one is a member of a “pure race”, a large percentage of blacks have white ancestors, and whites have different ancestors of different races. The idea that we're even arguing about race in 2010 when we have genetic information proving we're all related, is ridiculous.
        Regarding the Tea Party, I don't really understand why this party has to deal with an issue of race. I know little about them but it seems like their main concern is with taxes and the misuse of taxpayers’ money. Whether they're genuine in their concern or a fascist conspiracy is conjecture, but no one can deny that the principles of demanding more fiscal responsibility from our government is a legitimate one.

        • Hadrian999

          most of what could be considered racism against whites is done by whites to themselves out of
          some silly need to punish themselves, and is usually very meaningless. every other race is allowed to have racial pride celebrations and their own culturally motivated television channels, you couldn't have a white entertainment channel, or a white pride bumper sticker to counter BET or any other of the multitude of cultural celebrations, but when you consider that is what you really have with a majority of entertainment
          and many festivals anyway like the SCA it's really just a silly semantic circle jerk that that would be funny if so many people didn't fall for it.

          • simlo32

            Racism no matter how minor is racism.

        • Hadrian999

          the main reason to criticize the tea party folks is that our government has been on this path for 30 years
          but nobody gave a damn as long as the head of state was a down homey good ol' boy but soon as a urban black man is in the oval office all of a sudden people care about rampant uncontrolled spending.

          • song12wwwwww

            You're trying to infer motive, it does not seem reasonable to be criticize them for something you can't prove, such as, motive. Every President has critics and needs critics.

          • Hadrian999

            im a huge critic of obama but i don't try pretend I'm some
            crusader wrapped in a cloak of historic patriotism

            but you're right I have no proof, I'll just have to assume they are innocent and too stupid to do anything til glenn beck tells them to

        • Haystack

          There's something deeply disingenuous about the Tea Party. They weren't concerned about fiscal responsibility when Bush was running up deficits giving tax breaks to the rich. When warrantless wiretapping was uncovered, or when national security letters were send to libraries auditing borrowers' records, they weren't marching to Washington with signs comparing Bush to Hitler, the way they have been over a *health care bill* of all things.

          As Hadrian says, they only started caring about this stuff when a black Democrat got into the White House.

          • zppppppa

            Even if that's an accurate assesment, you can't prove the motivation behind someone deciding to protest. Every President needs protestors, every President has received protest in one form or another. Who is to say that if Hillary got elected that the Tea Party wouldn't be criticizing her? People should be able to criticize our President regardless of what race he or she is. I personally like Obama, at least his leadership style, if not his policies, but people shouldn't be afraid to say they disagree with him. Bush certainly received a lot of critcism (with good cause). Obama is a human like everyone else and is not infallable.

          • Haystack

            I never said they shouldn't be able to protest, just that the movement seems contrived and disingenuous to me.

            Frankly, the fact that there could be any sort of popular movement to prevent uninsured people from getting health care so that they don't have to die from preventable illnesses is leading me to hate this county.

          • Zpppppa

            It would be nice if things were so simple, Tea Party=Bad vs.Democrats=Good. I'm a small business person, I make under 30K and I pay $60 a month for health insurance with a 10,000 deductable. I work in the video industry along with other struggleing freelancers some of whom have to pay their taxes with bank loans.

            I got hit hard this year with taxes dispite the fact that I live almost in poverty. In the health care bill, the goverment has decided to pay for it by making small buisness people file out a W2 form
            everytime they purchase something for their buisness, e.g. pens, batteries… they have done this so over time people like me will get so bogged down with paper work that we won't be able to keep up and thus have less business expenses to file, which leads to giving even more money to the government.
            I understand people need health care, but it should not be at the expense of the livelihood of people who can barely take care of there own health. Health is a Heirarchy, first food, shelter, clothes, and a means to survive, then medical care if needed. I am for health care as a right for the citezens of the US, however not to the point that my ability to survive is compromise.
            If they are to tax the rich, they should REALLY tax the rich.

          • Hadrian999

            the problem is this black or white thinking the 2 party system has drummed into our heads,
            just because someone is opposed to an enemy does not make them a friend. that simple minded thinking is like saying “I hate the crips so I must support the bloods” you can disagree with political parties all you want but dont assume everyone else that does is automatically a good guy.

          • Haystack

            The people who can't afford health care are struggling at least as much as you are. It's ironic how much of this debate is people who make 30k getting mad at people who make 20k, while the millionaires sit back and laugh.

            In a country as rich as ours, there is simply no excuse for someone dying from a tooth infection because they can't afford to see a dentist. We can afford universal healthcare without anyone plunging you or anyone else into poverty. Just look at the money we've spent nation-building in the Middle East, yet we're the only first world country where people die of preventable illnesses because healthcare is unavailable.

            It should have been taken for granted that the US should have universal health care, and the debate should have been over the best, fairest way to do that. Instead, the Republicans and their Tea Party allies did everything they could do derail any healthcare bill of any kind from being passed. In their calculus, it would be better to let the uninsured die than to afford Obama a legislative victory. As a result, we've ended up with a travesty that requires poor people to buy insurance that they can't afford to use, and fines them if they don't. Not exactly helpful.

            This, to me, is a case of partisan politics derailing an effort that was self-evidentially in the best interests of the country as a whole, and it succeeded by fear mongering, xenophobia, and selfishness. Those of us who are struggling ought to ban together so that we can all be better off. Instead, we let the elites sit back and watch us fight over their table scraps.

  • Andrew

    The hero of a popular fantasy novel.