We do indeed live in strange times. So for the Right, the NAACP is a "racist" organization, and the tea baggers are innocent Americans unfairly accused of racist behavior?
Beyond partisan sniping, what is so troubling about this classic, white deflection (i.e. a mirroring where those who call out racism are in turn labeled as "racists") is that it involves a 1) deep misunderstanding of what racism actually is and 2) that in the 24 hour news cycle where all points of view are equally valid, Palin and the Vox Right peanut gallery's claims will be elevated to that of the reasoned and rational.
Mining white racial resentment for electoral gains is a tried and true strategy of the Right and Conservatives in this country. Remember, political parties are a brand name, a type of shortcut that helps its members (potential or actual) decide to support the organization. While by the reasonable person standard the Tea Party may not be a classic white supremacist organization per se, they certainly contain a great many racists. Moreover, if public opinion data is any indication, the tea baggers are certainly very "traditional" in their racial attitudes.
Ultimately, (and as I suggested before) the tea baggers condone and give safe harbor to the racists in their midst. For me, that is enough to christen the Tea Party as the new age John Birchers that they are, a group of people who as I often remark may not hold the noose at the lynching party, but would show up in their Sunday finery and cheer it on.
To point on the twisted world in which the Right wing populists live, a choice excerpt from the article "NAACP vs. Tea Party: Racism Debate Heats Up as Sarah Palin Joins Fray":
The St. Louis Tea Party coalition on Monday evening passed a resolution of its own condemning the NAACP for "hypocritically engaging in the very conduct it purports to oppose." The resolution calls on the NAACP to withdraw its resolution. It even urges the IRS to reconsider its tax-exempt status of the NAACP because of what the Tea Party coalition dubbed the organization's "habitual partisan political behavior."
Former Alaska Gov. Palin , a vocal advocate of the Tea Party movement, jumped into the heated race debate Monday night, assailing the NAACP resolution as an example of "typical divisive politics that is so absolutely unnecessary." "The Tea Party movement is a beautiful movement, full of diverse people, diverse backgrounds," Palin said on Fox News' "Hannity." "It's very unfortunate that they are taking this tactic because it's a false accusation that Tea Party Americans are racist. Any good American hates racism. We don't stand for it. It is unacceptable." Palin in turn called on President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama to "repudiate" the resolution and "set the record straight."
The former GOP vice presidential candidate tweeted her support for the Tea Party again today: "I'm busy today so notify me asap when NAACP renders verdict: are liberty-loving, equality-respecting patriots racist? Bated breath,waiting..." Other Tea Party loyalists charge the NAACP's charges are driven solely by political motivations and are misguided. "Those ideas that Tea Party people are racist and that we're trying to instigate a racist climate in this country, that's simply a lie. That's out and out falsehood," said Rev. C.L. Bryant, a former president of NAACP's Garland, Texas, chapter who is now a leading Tea Party activist.
"I have not heard one racial slur that came out of that march," said Bryant, referring to the Tea Party protest on Capitol Hill where members of Congress alleged racist comments. "Those were simply Americans who were protesting."
****We do indeed live in interesting times, do we not? And am I so wrong to yearn for the good old days of honest racists and honest racism? When folks wore their stripes (or hoods) proudly for all to see?