Who’s A Racist Now?

Deb Nicklay/Globe Gazette, via Associated Press. The North Iowa Tea Party’s short-lived billboard in Mason City, Iowa.

Deb Nicklay/Globe Gazette, via Associated Press. The North Iowa Tea Party’s short-lived billboard in Mason City, Iowa.

Commentary by Tobin Harshaw  in the New York Times:

On Tuesday, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People released this statement: “Over 2,000 N.A.A.C.P. delegates today unanimously passed a resolution—as amended—called ‘The Tea Party Movement,’ asking for the repudiation of racist Tea Party leaders.”

That same day, a White House official told ABC News’s Jake Tapper that “al Qaeda is a racist organization that treats black Africans like cannon fodder and does not value human life.” (It was a followup to President Obama’s statement that “these terrorist organizations … do not regard African life as valuable in and of itself.”)

A day later, an Iowa Tea Party group “replaced a billboard comparing President Barack Obama to Adolf Hitler and Vladimir Lenin, calling the sign a bad decision that reflected poorly on the organization.”

For some observers, the sign wasn’t just in poor taste, but also racist. As the New York Examiner’s Dexter Rogers put it, doubting that “the Tea Party members actions are not predicated on some level based on race is idiotic. Iowa is vastly white state. The billboard was placed there strategically to induce a reaction from those who may harbor negative sentiment towards President Obama for his leadership skills and also for being African-American.”

So much for the new age of harmony under our first “postracial” president…

[continues in the New York Times]

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  • http://www.xenex.org/ xen

    …Did that article imply a connection between the Tea Partiers and al Qaeda? It seems odd to throw al Qaeda into an article about the racism of the Tea Baggers.

    • Baph777atYT

      If they were to begin to start talking about the Fundamentalist religious beliefs of those in the Tea Party on a more regular basis such a comparison might begin to be a more obvious one.

  • O. Spengler

    It's time the Tea Party was taught about Godwin's Law.

    • Conniedobbs

      They don't believe that the laws of thermodynamics, gravity, evolution, averages, or the united states of america apply to them, so then why would godwin?

  • Guest

    Racist? I don't know. The obvious comparison they were making was of the (perceived or real) economic and political leadership similarities. Even if we go as far as to suggest this sign was meant to cast Obama as a racist like Hitler (as Rogers does), is calling someone racist now racist itself? Besides, don't a lot of white supremacists actually like Hitler, or least think he had the right idea but got carried away?

  • Hadrian999

    well they have to call people something.
    it isnt any different than neocons calling all non republicans terrorists

  • Haystack

    There's nothing racist about the sign, it just illustrates that the Tea Party doesn't know its history, or understand socialism. Hitler and the fascists HATED Marxism and actively persecuted it. These ideologies were at war with each other in Europe, and yet they compare Obama alternatively to Hitler and Stalin/Lenin, as though these figures were not anathema to one another.

    They've also stretched the term “Socialist” to encompass pretty much anything that involves redistribution of wealth or any form of government regulation or administration. A health care plan that subsidizes private health insurers, then, somehow becomes “socialism.”

    It's taken for granted that if something is “socialism” that everyone will agree that it is bad. In my experience, it throws the average person off balance if you question this assumption.

    At bottom tea party conservatives are social Darwinists. They repeatedly appeal to the axiom that you are justified in owning however much wealth you can hoard, because those who hoard the most wealth are the smartest or hardest working, but, be careful what you wish for. If the working class act collectively and take that wealth away from you, they must also be justified in doing so…right?

    • Cerebralcaustic

      >Hitler and the fascists HATED Marxism and actively persecuted it. These ideologies were at war with each other in Europe,

      True, but your comment misses a larger point:

      “The relative ease with which a young communist could be converted into a Nazi or vice versa was well known, best of all to the propagandists of the two parties. The communists and Nazis
      clashed more frequently with each other than with other parties simply because they competed for the same type of mind and reserved
      for each other the hatred of the heretic. Their practice
      showed how closely they are related. To both, the real enemy, the
      man with whom they had nothing in common, was the liberal of
      the old type. [e.g., what we'd call a “libertarian” today.] While to the Nazi the communist and to the communist the Nazi, and to both the socialist, are potential recruits made
      of the right timber, they both know that there can be no compromise
      between them and those who really believe in individual
      freedom.”

      F.A. Hayak, the Road to Serfdom, condensed edition, 1945 http://www.iea.org.uk/files/upld-publication43p

      >It's taken for granted that if something is “socialism” that everyone will agree that it is bad. In my experience, it throws the average person off balance if you question this assumption.

      “Socialism in general has a record of failure so blatant that only an intellectual could ignore or evade it.” Thomas Sowell, economist (and “reformed” Marxist), winner of the National Humanites Medal

      >At bottom tea party conservatives are social Darwinists

      Tea Partyers are overwhelmingly right-wing/Republican/conservatives. And who — rightwingers or leftys — do you think donates more of their earnings to charity? “When it comes to charitable donations, volunteer activity, and even donating blood, it’s liberals, not conservatives, who should feel compelled to prove their compassion. A Syracuse University professor who studied economics at the famously demanding Rand Graduate School, [Arthur C.] Brooks has exhaustively reviewed a wide range of nonpartisan survey research, much of it university-based, to demonstrate the existence of a charitable divide between liberals and conservatives. He has determined, for instance, that the average conservative-headed household gives 30 percent more money to charity than the average liberal-headed one ($1,600 compared with $1,227), despite earning 6 percent less annually. ” http://www.city-journal.org/html/rev2007-01-18h

      >They repeatedly appeal to the axiom that you are justified in owning however much wealth you can hoard..

      “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” If Person A's pursuit of happiness involves “hoarding” of wealth, he or she has that right. If Person B's pursuit of happiness involves a life of simplicity and poverty, that's also his or her right.

      >because those who hoard the most wealth are the smartest or hardest working

      No, no, no, no, no. In fact, the overwhelming majority of millionaires in America were born into middle class families and do not inherit much wealth from their parents but rather work hard, save their money and invest conservatively. http://www.amazon.com/Millionaire-Next-Door-Tho… But intelligence has little or nothing to do with material or professional accomplishments (see Malcolm Gladwell's “Outliers”). And, again, if Person A wants to “hoard” wealth, as you put it, they have the right to do so.

      >If the working class act collectively and take that wealth away from you, they must also be justified in doing so…right?

      No, no, no, no, no. Why is the “working class” (however we define that vague concept) justified in taking the fruit of another's labor? Because the “working class” are exploited in capitalism? Not hardly: the working class in capitalist countries have higher standards of living and more options to improve their lives than any other group in history.

      • Baph777atYT

        “Socialism in general has a record of failure s blatant that only an intellectual could ignore or evade it.” Thomas Sowell, economist (and “reformed” Marxist), winner of the National Humanities Medal.

        Interesting. It reveals a bias against intelligent people (probably those that are no longer slaves to the book of bogus teachings called the Bible.) So, apparently those that aren't very intelligent are oppossed to socialism and intellectualism and would rather hold on to more comfortable notions for them like the the Bible is true and there's nothing wrong with having mutliple times the goods and services that your fellow person does, while totally ignoring the fact that true (as oppossed to dictatorial versions) of Marxism or Socialism have never really existed anywhere, so that no one can really form an opinion as to whether they are truely good or bad in comparison to heartless and greedy Capitalism that tends to keep the rich rich and the poor poor.

      • 5by5

        “Socialism in general has a record of failure so blatant that only an intellectual could ignore or evade it.”

        Actually, this is nigh 100% incorrect.

        Communist has a record of failure, but socialism has been pretty successful, with social democracies doing even better.

        All of Europe is basically socialist (especially when compared to the United States), and has both a higher standard of living, better health and education, and even higher happiness rates. In fact, European economies only recently got themselves into trouble by mimicking the crappy economic policies of the United States.

        Venezuela's Chavez is frequently bashed for being a socialist, but in his time in office, he's reduced overall poverty by more than 30%, and extreme poverty has been reduced by more than 80%. While the idiots in the mainstream press here accuse him of trying to centralize control, the irony is he's done the exact opposite, by creating local communal councils that provide residents with direct democracy to make economic & political decisions via local control, but with federal monetary support for the choices they make.

        Haystack is quite correct, when you question the meme that “socialism = bad” it does throw most people — mainly because most people haven't really given it any real, critical thought, or investigated the practical results of democratic socialism/economic democracy beyond the hysterical blitherings of the rightwing and their irrational opinions about it.

        • freedomrider

          Wake up and look at Europe with reality. If socialism was so wonderful why did the Beatles flee to the US. Why do people still come to America? Why do Mexicans flow over the border by the millions? Come on get your eyes out of the fog of ideology and look at reality.

    • Cerebralcaustic

      >Hitler and the fascists HATED Marxism and actively persecuted it. These ideologies were at war with each other in Europe,

      True, but your comment misses a larger point:

      “The relative ease with which a young communist could be converted into a Nazi or vice versa was well known, best of all to the propagandists of the two parties. The communists and Nazis
      clashed more frequently with each other than with other parties simply because they competed for the same type of mind and reserved
      for each other the hatred of the heretic. Their practice
      showed how closely they are related. To both, the real enemy, the
      man with whom they had nothing in common, was the liberal of
      the old type. [e.g., what we'd call a “libertarian” today.] While to the Nazi the communist and to the communist the Nazi, and to both the socialist, are potential recruits made
      of the right timber, they both know that there can be no compromise
      between them and those who really believe in individual
      freedom.”

      F.A. Hayak, the Road to Serfdom, condensed edition, 1945 http://www.iea.org.uk/files/upld-publication43p

      >It's taken for granted that if something is “socialism” that everyone will agree that it is bad. In my experience, it throws the average person off balance if you question this assumption.

      “Socialism in general has a record of failure so blatant that only an intellectual could ignore or evade it.” Thomas Sowell, economist (and “reformed” Marxist), winner of the National Humanites Medal

      >At bottom tea party conservatives are social Darwinists

      Tea Partyers are overwhelmingly right-wing/Republican/conservatives. And who — rightwingers or leftys — do you think donates more of their earnings to charity? “When it comes to charitable donations, volunteer activity, and even donating blood, it’s liberals, not conservatives, who should feel compelled to prove their compassion. A Syracuse University professor who studied economics at the famously demanding Rand Graduate School, [Arthur C.] Brooks has exhaustively reviewed a wide range of nonpartisan survey research, much of it university-based, to demonstrate the existence of a charitable divide between liberals and conservatives. He has determined, for instance, that the average conservative-headed household gives 30 percent more money to charity than the average liberal-headed one ($1,600 compared with $1,227), despite earning 6 percent less annually. ” http://www.city-journal.org/html/rev2007-01-18h

      >They repeatedly appeal to the axiom that you are justified in owning however much wealth you can hoard..

      “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” If Person A's pursuit of happiness involves “hoarding” of wealth, he or she has that right. If Person B's pursuit of happiness involves a life of simplicity and poverty, that's also his or her right.

      >because those who hoard the most wealth are the smartest or hardest working

      No, no, no, no, no. In fact, the overwhelming majority of millionaires in America were born into middle class families and do not inherit much wealth from their parents but rather work hard, save their money and invest conservatively. http://www.amazon.com/Millionaire-Next-Door-Tho… But intelligence has little or nothing to do with material or professional accomplishments (see Malcolm Gladwell's “Outliers”). And, again, if Person A wants to “hoard” wealth, as you put it, they have the right to do so.

      >If the working class act collectively and take that wealth away from you, they must also be justified in doing so…right?

      No, no, no, no, no. Why is the “working class” (however we define that vague concept) justified in taking the fruit of another's labor? Because the “working class” are exploited in capitalism? Not hardly: the working class in capitalist countries have higher standards of living and more options to improve their lives than any other group in history.

      • Andrew

        I see at least two bits of idealistic “libertarian” (crypto-plutocratic) bullshit there.

        First, when you have wealth centralized to this– http://sociology.ucsc.edu/whorulesamerica/power… –degree, then those who don't already have wealth are often forced to accept simplicity and poverty. Those who don't own enough to live must become economic slaves to those who hoard (no quotes) wealth. Which brings us to the second “libertarian” lie of omission: ignoring the existence of the working poor and the unemployed. The shrinking middle class may not be exploited that much in America, but there are a large and growing number of poor people who are not poor by choice. These people are exploited by the wealthy. (And, to preempt a common red herring, the fact that the Soviets killed millions doesn't change that fact. Two wrongs don't make a right.)

        I suggest not relying so much on quoting the unsubstantiated propaganda of far-right partisans as if they were scientific facts that proved anything next time.

      • Hadrian999

        i would like to see how the number s on charitable giving would look if you removed church giving,
        the church is more of a mixture of political organization and crime cartel.

      • 5by5

        “The working class in capitalist countries have higher standards of living and more options to improve their lives than any other group in history.”

        People in DEMOCRACIES have more options to improve their lives. Capitalism has squat to do with it. It is the voice that democracy gives to ordinary people that improves their chances — their right to assemble to protest, to demand change. That is what makes the difference.

        Capitalism doesn't increase choice. Just ask the average Chinese person.

        Capitalism is being aggressively used in China, and people there have no more rights that they did before. A select few have the “right” to eat a McDonald's hamburger, but anyone who mistakes that for freedom, is a frickin' idiot.

        The mass of Chinese are no better with the introduction of Capitalist principles into the economic mix there. Indeed there have been more than 10,000 RIOTS over things like their home being bulldozed without their consent, poverty is rampant anywhere outside of the “special zones” that the Commies show to westerners, and work is little better than wage slavery. There is no “liberated worker” thing happening there. Rather, it's a Capitalist's dream of zero environmental regulation or worker safety that not only poisons workers who manufacture and/or break down electronics component, or work in mines of all kinds, and the creation of products that in turn poison US, like baby food & toys chock full of mystery chemicals.

        Capitalism in and of itself — doesn't make things “better”.

      • Conniedobbs

        1. There is no logic in your first response.
        2. There is no truth to your second response.
        3. Charities give without expectation based on need, churches will only give if you “accept jesus”. That's not charity, it's a bribe, and most certainly does not come from the genuine care for someone else's welfare.
        4. Have you ever watched A&E TV? Or better question – have you ever been featured on A&E TV?
        5. Because the fruit of the “working class'” labour is taken by the greedy capitalist. That's what they're talking about when they speak of the “income gap” – the overseers and (mis)managers getting richer while wages for the working class are remaining the same (or actually *dropping*). Your logic is basically saying “how much do these poor saps need?” – which is exactly the kind of “let them eat cake” bullshit that the robber barons have gotten away with for way too long. CEOs should start studying french history, specifically the late 1700's, before they spout off with that shit. Then again, you guys have them in your pocket with your jesus scare stories, so you're probably safe.

  • tonyviner

    We could use a mind like Lenin nowadays.

  • DeepCough

    Y'know, I would really love to see what reaction Hitler would have to this woefully ironic billboard, what with him
    being compared to a non-white person and all.

  • Jorge Arbusto

    Besides the healthcare thing, how are things any different in the US with Obama as president as opposed to Bush? Unless there's something that I'm missing, the fact that right wingers want Obama's blood, but would gladly lick Bush's boots while they bend over really disturbs me.

    • wfzlsster

      Yes, it's all about divide and conquer. Keep the Democrats and Republicans fighting with themselves over philosophical differences that do not translate to real actions. The Democrats were put in power because of their promises to end the wars but I don't see any end in sight, only continued involvement.

    • Hadrian999

      thats the beauty or our sham democracy, both parties have core issues that they use to fire up support but refuse to touch the republicans could have the presidency 535 legislators and the supreme court could all be cardinals and abortion would stand, the same could be said for the democrats (except the cardinal thing) and the democrats wouldn't touch firearms in any meaningful way or institute actual socialized medicine). our 2 party system is a bait and switch game to hide our real government.

  • Baph777atYT

    An interesting article. There was another article that tried to breakdown the composition of the Tea Party in USA Today, and I feel they left out of the most important parts. Essentially, they listed many statistics about the Tea Party, then failed to report the number of Tea Party members that are also Fundamentalist Christians.

    Now, I believe the people that are at the top of the Tea Party (people's whose taxes would have been raised under Obama's plan to tax those making a certain amount in society 10% more) are mainly just Christians in name. They probably go to church on Sunday and as a social thing, but when Obama or Jesus asks them to pay higher taxes to help out the poor they really are oppossed to doing so. However, I think greed and not racism is the primary motivating factor of these people.

    However, the Tea Party members that make less than $50,000 a year. Primarily lower class whites that allows the Tea Party to swell its ranks to where it can carry political clout that it does. I believe these people are very much under the influence of both the twin evils of Fundamentalist Christianity andv racism. In some ways these two things blend together. But really, belief in a dead dogma combined with the racist sentiments it can engender typify these people. They are so blind they don't think they need any help from the government because they actually believe that one day Jesus will come back and do away with all the people they despise: African Americans, homosexuals, Hispanic people, etc, and everything will be perfect for them.

    • David Frost

      Conservatives are hippocrites, first they say they are christian but ultimately are highly materialistic social darwinists, then they say that they are this alternative to liberal immorality but whole heartedly embrace individualism to the degree that Aynn Rand would probably be repulsed, and yet in spit of these views of free markets and property rights they ridicule intellectuals and anyone else who prides themselves on thinking for themselves (so freedom to them only means freedom to own worthless sh** you don't need). And as far as the whole racism thing…how come the “tea baggers” only decided to protest when we elected our first african american president..that is a bit strong to just be circumstancal.

    • Hitech Guy

      “but when Obama or Jesus asks them to pay higher taxes”

      Are you comparing/equating Obama to Jesus?

      Jesus may ask people to 'pay more' (after taxes) and they can choose to or not, but Obama/Congress/IRS doesn't ask, it's not an option…

  • Guest51

    Why isn't Bush and Cheney on the billboard. They preyed on the fearful and naive too.

    Mushroom clouds, Weapons of Mass Destruction, that last one sounds scary doesn't it. Ooooo Biochemical Weapons, Ooooo. Scary Powell and the test tube filled with baking powder which we are supposed to think it's Anthrax, Ooooo scary, Saddam Ooooo bite your fingernails, scary, scary.

  • rtb61

    So the tea baggers using fear to prey upon the politically naive who don't know the difference between democratic socialism, fascism, stalinism (Lenin was long gone before the worst of the abuses) by decrying those that use fear to prey upon the politically naive . Now consider all the countries in the world the tea baggers, hmm, seem to want to declare as evil, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_democratic…, for being like Hitler's Germany and Stalin's Soviet Union, in fact most of the rest of the world, including all of the US's closest allies. So how will the tea baggers behave when they feel threatened by countries all around the world dominated by democratic socialist political leaders whom they all automatically liken to Hitler or Lenin, what will that fear and paranoia lead too, world war three.

  • wfzlsster

    I don't really care what the New York Times thinks. These are the same people that backed the Iraq war through bogus articles and failed to report truthfully on 9/11. What was their comment on Israels attack in international waters on the aid flotilla? I don't know the answer but suspect they were pro Israel. Sorry if that's got nothing to do with the Tea Baggers but I don't think their commentaries carry much weight anymore.

    • Conniedobbs

      You don't think their commentaries carry much weight, but you don't know why? Something maybe they might have said about the gaza flotilla makes them arguably pro-israel, and as such, anything else they say is questionable? You, sir, would be the best critical thinker ever, if “best” were a synonym for “worst”.

      here's a hint: Nobody gives a shit about what you give a shit about someone else thinking or saying, except your mom, and she's busy with her clients.

      • wfzlsster

        That is quite the intellectual response on your part.

        • Conniedobbs

          Your response got what it deserves.

  • Neo2012

    The NAACP is the largest racist group on the planet.

    • Conniedobbs

      I think the republican party has more members.

      • Methos

        I don't see the connection, I know many republicans, and not a single one is racist. Calling all republicans racist is just another way for the democrats to slander republicans and spread their own hatred so that they get more votes from the minorities.

        • Conniedobbs

          No, they're all racist. Every one. They just don't tell you because you're not part of the inner circle.

  • MoMo

    The tea parties eminent from the same sort of cultural wasteland that Al Qaeda manifests from: tribal, racist, uber-religious, sexist, violent and reactionary. In both the rural United States and throughout the Muslim world there are whole populations who only ever have exposure to one book and know nothing outside of their religious community.

    Both groups show the importance of pluralism, tolerance and education.

  • Henryletham9

    I don't think it should have any race based connotations to it because I don't even see it that way. Just look what Hitler and Lenin stood for: No freedom of speech, gun control,banning the alternative media, corporatized health-care, implementing huge taxes, paying more favors to corporations over the individual. Just making it race-based just shows that people give up too easily by looking at skin color before the key issues because they don't want to be deemed as a racist, like this article for example.

    The people who put the sign up are just using their first amendment right even if people find it distasteful, any joe smoe can do that.

    If it was Bush in the center picture, would it still be distasteful? Perhaps even Racist to some extent? What if it was Fidel Castro? or Mao? Or Stalin? Get off the high horse of racism and look at the actions of the person, isn't that what they should be judged for?

  • Freeamericafromracism

    Racism is the play of the Democratic party to retain it's political strangle hold over middle class Americans. Remember only the truly racist are the first to raise the racism indictment. It is time to stop the racism card and grow up and treat all people as the same. We can no longer afford entitlement junkies in control of congress

    • Andrew

      “Remember only the truly racist are the first to raise the racism indictment.”

      That is one of the stupidest things I've ever read.

    • Gregory

      My gosh you've got your head right up Glenn Beck's ass. Grow up and treat all people the same? Entitlement junkies? In the name of my deity you must be from a parallel universe because nothing in your statement corresponds to this reality. Embarrassing.

  • Gregory

    Yep…I had this fear that the first black presidency would be a wash because America is still a seething stew, not a melting pot. The scab of racism has been picked at by Obama's election into a running sore and there is a significant demographic of white conservatives that call Obama a socialist, or challenge he was born in Hawaii, alternatively accuse him of being a fascist mastermind and also a blithering idiot, refer to the American people voting the Republicans out as tyranny…etc etc etc when their only issues are (1) he's black and (2) he's more Christian than they have ever and apparently will ever be. Or have these Xians been given bibles with “thou shalt love thy neighbor as yourself or you will not see the kingdom of heaven” references blacked out with CIA magic marker?

    Christianity in America has been exposed as a social organization for the preservation of white, European culture and for the blacks who also “practice” Xianity…cause that's what massa wants you African-Americans to do. They pulled you from your homeland and took away your culture and tried to make you subhuman and they're still trying to put you in your place while their greed and callousness towards their fellowman is shocking…in other words, Jesus weeps.

    Hell is full of hypocrites like these Tea Party rednecks and they spend their days hip deep in excrement…doing handstands. You betcha!

    fiat lux

  • Gregory

    My gosh you’ve got your head right up Glenn Beck’s ass. Grow up and treat all people the same? Entitlement junkies? In the name of my deity you must be from a parallel universe because nothing in your statement corresponds to this reality. Embarrassing.

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