Friday, September 17, 2010

Understanding the Liberal Mind 2: Why the Tea Partiers "Must" Be Racist

If you have read anything in what Sarah Palin consistently refers to as "the lamestream media" over the past few months - and, unfortunately many people are immersed in it exclusively as their source of news and opinion - you will have read accusations that the Tea Party is racist. Sometimes it is in the form of breathless revelations, other times it is insinuated, while other times it is tossed off as a piece of conventional wisdom that "everybody" knows.

Racism and bigotry are part of the human condition and there are a few fringe flakes in every movement including those liberal movements now accusing the Tea Parties of being racist. That is a given. But are Tea Party people more racist overall than America in general or the Left in general? There is no evidence to suggest that it is.

Yet it is an article of faith for what Angelo Cordevilla calls "the Ruling Class" that the Tea Party supporters (up to 30% of the American population according to some polls) "must" be racist. Why do they believe this? There are two theories, both of which have some points in their favor.

First, some would say that all through the history of the Left, from the 19th century on, Leftists tend to accuse their political opponents of committing the sins of which the Left itself it guilty and that this tactic is simply raw cynicism. Isolate an opponent, focus on him and scream a lie about him over an over again until the sheer number of times the accusation is heard begins to convince uninformed bystanders that it must have some truth in it.

The Left, of course, is obsessed with race: racial quotas, affirmative action, victimization. The Left has nothing but scorn for Martin Luther King Jr.'s dream of a color blind society, which makes their faux outrage over Glenn Beck using Martin Luther King Jr. Day for his Restoring Honor rally on the Washington Mall a pile of hypocrisy. They left "Uncle Martin" behind a long time ago and his only use to them now is as a symbol into which they pour their radical ideology.

So maybe it is just cynical, gutter-level, street fighting politics. But there is a problem with this theory. While it explains why the hard core Left makes the accusation of racism, it does not explain why more moderate, less ideological and more sincerely motivated people buy into it.

If the first theory explains the origin of this charge, the second theory explains why it gets traction in the culture in general. The second theory is the paternalistic notion that some social groups are perpetual victims who have to be cared for by the nanny state and without welfare they will flounder. Since the Tea Party stands for a roll back of the welfare state in the name of fiscal sanity, lower taxes and lower government spending and balanced budgets, it represents a threat to the big government, welfare state cherished by liberals and socialists alike. Thus, to be a Tea Partier is to lack basic human decency in the form of concern for the victims - such as black Americans - and the only possible source of such hateful lack of concern must be racism. If it is anything else, that something else is just a bad so any Tea Partier is guilty and evil. End of argument.

The problem is that the modern liberal mind has absorbed the Marxist attack on private property as the source of social injustice and therefore is open to this line of reasoning. For many people the whole thing is unconscious; all they could articulate on the conscious level is "conservatives are uncaring and mean because they want to cut welfare just so they can keep more of their own money to spend on themselves." Why middle class people might object to higher taxes on the rich is something they cannot explain; in fact, they can't even believe it. (They should go to a Tea Party event themselves some time and confront reality.)

The root of the problem is the modern, Marxist attack on private property, which leads to envy and class warfare rhetoric such as we are now seeing coming out of the Obama administration every day.

The ironic thing is that the effectiveness of the accusation of racism hurled against conservatives stems from the fact that conservatives actually hate racism and so they flinch when accused of it. It has a sting because it is abhorrent. To call the Tea Party folk insufficiently socialist or to angrily accuse them of not adhering to Marxist orthodoxy would not have the same effect. But it would be the same thing expressed more honestly.


Peter W. Dunn said...

This accusation of racism stems from what has been called the "soft bigotry of low expectations". It arises from the concept that certain minorities are incapable of self-sufficiency and therefore they need the perpetual aid of welfare. It is sad that this bigotry is self-fulfilling prophecy, because it has created dependency on the part of those who are continually receiving government handouts.

Craig Carter said...

Right, but it is only self-fulfilling prophecy if the welfare state is allowed to continue.

Peter W. Dunn said...

Agreed. When, because of insolvency, the US government finally devalues the dollar to nothing, the people who will suffer the most are those who depend on government. Then they will have to sink or swim.