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|Tea parties: Redneck or not, we are all still Americans|
If you are anything like me (I don't mean overweight but still strangely handsome), you were probably unsure about these so-called 'Tea-Parties' last week that sprung up across the country.
On April 15 (that is tax day for those increasingly small numbers of Americans paying taxes), the first National Taxed Enough Already (or TEA) Party held demonstrations to petition our government with their simple grievance: we are spending too much money on bailouts through higher and higher taxes. Unfortunately, most of the mainstream media panned the events as "Redneck" or "mad as hell whites" or "racist" or "southern" or they simply ignored most of the substantive aspects of these protests.
More than 700 "tea parties" were held in states and cities across the U.S., including those Obama Blue ones. In Louisiana, there were 17 cities that participated. I would say that is pretty good considering that this was completely grassroots and only began about two months ago. And, as a side note, I think this shows that conservatives learned from the Obama campaign how to organize through MySpace and Facebook.
Again, if you are like me, you are probably wondering about some of the trillions of dollars in new debt created in the past 90 days and whether or not it is sustainable in the long-term. Further, you may wonder about the media's lack of meaningful coverage.
Janeane Garofalo, an actress and former comedienne, was a guest on Keith Olbermann's MSNBC show the following Thursday night (April 16) and asserted the following:
"Let's be very honest about what this is about … It's not about bashing Democrats, it's not about taxes, they have no idea what the Boston tea party was about, they don't know their history at all. This is about hating a black man in the White House. This is racism straight up. That is nothing but a bunch of teabagging rednecks."
Again, national media people love to play the "it's a southern racist phenomenon" card. The trouble is that does not explain the large number of tea party members in New York, Massachusetts and Connecticut that certainly do not consider themselves as "southern" or "racist." But hey, why let facts get in the way of a good laugh, especially when those awful rednecks are the butt of the joke?
She heaves on further to say, unchallenged by Olbermann (of course!), that there is something wrong with "these people's brains" and they have a "neurological problem."
Just to make sure I get this straight: anyone that defies President Obama over any issue is a racist. Wait a minute here. Do you mean that the Democratic Party, the party of tolerance and social activism and political protests and civil liberties, along with their media accomplices, believe that no one should be able to confront Obama without the terrible label of racism being stamped on their foreheads? This is the worst form of censorship. It would result in all serious political debate being subdued to an agenda that cannot be questioned or probed by its citizens.
Maybe this will help: a government that does not support freedom of press, speech, protest and dissent and controls a large part of its corporate structure and is beyond reproach due to fear and intimidation tactics … I think they call that Fascism.
To be honest, I do not know what to think about the Tea Party (Movement?) and their issues and where this could all lead. I do wonder where these people were in the final days of the Bush administration when he continued shoving more and more debt onto future generations of Americans.
But simply to dismiss them because of they disagreed with the President … because they oppose higher taxes … because they want less government spending … or because of the color of their skin … now who is being an intolerant racist?
The conflict-ridden issues of our world are troublesome enough without adding inflammatory rhetoric that furthers the discord between us.
Redneck or not, we are all still Americans.
John W. Sutherlin, PhD, is an assistant professor of political science at the University of Louisiana-Monroe. He also is co-director at the ULM Social Science Research Lab. He can be reached by e-mailing Sutherlin@ulm.edu.