August 5, 2009

Racist Tones of the Teabagger Movement

Bay of Fundie has a great post about the tea party movement, "Teabagging with Jesus (Part 1)," that notes how racism has been involved from the beginning. This certainly seems to be the case. Sure, there are probably some people who turn up at these rallies because they are upset about having to pay for the governmental services from which they benefit. But the center of the movement seems involve a different sort of anger. After all, most of those who attend such rallies are paying lower taxes under Obama than they did under Bush. No, most of those in attendance seem to be upset about something else.

Bay of Fundie's thesis is as follows:
The whole teabagging movement has had racist overtones from the beginning. Whether they admit it or not, it’s mostly about white Americans feeling like a minority for the first time ever, and they aren’t happy about it. The anti-tax message is merely superficial. They’re actually tapping into some deep-seated frustration that has been brewing for a while. Anti-taxes is just one small part of what they’re pissed off about.
Not content to make such a claim and expect readers to accept it a face value, the post continues with support for the claim. Most of it comes from an analysis of the demographic characteristics of those participating in the tea parties.

Another far more obvious piece of evidence can be found in the messages of the teabaggers themselves. One merely has to read their signs and listen to their speeches to learn that many are deeply troubled by President Obama's race and the degree to which he is perceived as foreign. As Bay of Fundie highlights, the tea parties can be viewed as protests against multiculturalism.

When I look at the tea party movement, I experience two competing thoughts. First, I find myself thinking that even though I don't agree with their message, it is nice to see that somebody still gives enough of a damn about something to be willing to protest. Sure, many of these things look far more like political rallies than protests, but at least people are willing to get out there and express their discontent publicly. If only those of us who think President Obama is making himself an accomplice of Bush administration war crimes by refusing to demand accountability would do the same!

My second thought is that this sort of white, right-wing rage has been brewing for awhile and will probably get far worse before it finds resolution. Let's face it, a bad economy is an ideal breeding ground for this sort of thing, and the most optimistic among us agree that the economy is not going to rebound anytime soon. If conditions continue to worsen such that even larger numbers of people are out of work, things could get scary on the right-wing nutjob front.

In any case, I think the best course of action for those of us not interested in teabagging (outside of our personal sex lives) is probably one of cautious curiosity. We need to keep an eye on what is happening, and it would benefit us to try to understand what is driving the teabaggers. I do not think that there is cause for great concern yet, but that could change quickly.

The photo used in this post was taken by userjack6880 during a 2009 teabagging in Biloxi, MS

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