Alex Blaze

The Tea Baggers haven't changed, we have

Filed By Alex Blaze | March 21, 2010 1:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Media
Tags: bank robbers, Benjamin Franklin, identity politics, LGBT history, male, people, school, tea baggers, us, white

Updated with video after the jump.

I come from a part of the US that's full of tea-bagger types - middle- to upper-income white Republicans who think America sucks now but was a great place when minorities knew their place, who think they're the only people who work in the US, and who are paranoid that their tax money is going to pay for free gifts for the undeserving leeches on the system (who are everyone who isn't like them). So it really just sounds like these folks are letting their true colors show on the eve of health care reform passing:

Preceding the president's speech to a gathering of House Democrats, thousands of protesters descended around the Capitol to protest the passage of health care reform. The gathering quickly turned into abusive heckling, as members of Congress passing through Longworth House office building were subjected to epithets and even mild physical abuse.

A staffer for Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.) told reporters that Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.) had been spat on by a protestor. Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), a hero of the civil rights movement, was called a 'ni--er.' And Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) was called a "faggot," as protestors shouted at him with deliberately lisp-y screams. Frank, approached in the halls after the president's speech, shrugged off the incident.

But Clyburn was downright incredulous, saying he had not witnessed such treatment since he was leading civil rights protests in South Carolina in the 1960s.

The racial aspect of the tea bagger movement has been apparent to most people on the outside looking in, and they've been calling Barney Frank the faggot who ruined the economy since 2008. The only thing that's changed is now they're using the word "faggot."

Despite the right's best attempts to paint all school teachers are aspiring leftists, I remember mostly rightwing indoctrination in school. I had one teacher who gave me a look and said "You believe in that?" in seventh grade when I mentioned continental drift. My fifth grade teacher tried to convince us that women shouldn't be allowed in the military because then no one would care for babies. My world history teacher in high school listed "homosexuals in the military" as one of the reasons the Roman Empire fell.

One in particular stands out: my eighth grade US history teacher. He was told us repeatedly that every nation has a period in history they want to return to, and America's was the 1950's. He was against big government, social engineering, TV, the usual. I remember once he lectured us on how banks "create" wealth, with a long explanation, that really sounded more like banks helping to create the environment in which workers create wealth while the banks just take a cut for advancing the money needed to prime the pump, but such subtlety seemed to get lost in the explanation and got me dismissed as a kid who wasn't ready to learn real economics when I pointed that out. He also was convinced that the US was more economically prosperous in the 50's because people just worked harder. WWII devastating Europe's economy and infrastructure, high union membership, and a much larger income tax on the highest tax bracket, apparently, had nothing to do with a more economically secure middle class, apparently.

This guy wasn't a talking points addict, a morality enforcer, or a Republican partisan (at least in class) like the big name conservatives of the Bush years. It was generally hard to fit his politics into the cannon of movement conservatism until all these tea baggers and Glenn Beck came along. The same confused explanations, faux intellectualism, aggrandizement of everything white over everything that's not... it's all fairly familiar. I remember saying that my staunchly conservative US history teacher several years later seemed like liberal revisionist history compared to the earlier teacher, but instead it was just the fact that the latter, while having different opinions than I did, lived in the same universe.

Conservatism as identity politics instead of just moralizing and trying to get tax cuts is back in full force. Like everything the right accuses the left of doing, the right already practices and does it more. As Amanda Marcotte said a while back (her site's down right now so I can't get the link), the Founding Fathers stuff isn't about an ideological alignment with those folks, obviously. It's about the fact that they were white male landowners, and they were in charge. To them, it really doesn't matter what they were doing; they were good people and whatever emanated from them was, by extension, good.

My eighth grade US history teacher said as much once, relating a Benjamin Franklin quotation that if you elect good people to office, it doesn't matter what they believe, they'll make good laws. I don't know whether Franklin actually said that since it was so paraphrased and I heard it over a decade ago that I couldn't find the quotation now, but the fact that an archetypal tea bagger liked it and thought it came from a Founding Father says a lot. It's not their policy or their ideas or their interests that matter, it's who they are. How is that not the exact caricature of affirmative action that these folks are always painting?

They're just reverting to their original form before forty years of Religious Right power turned them all into church scolds. They know something's wrong, so it must be that the wrong people are in charge. The fact that they're blaming a gay Congressional representative or a black president makes sense in the context of their mistaken belief that the reason the Great Recession happened is because of social spending on lazy and immoral minorities. Rich, white, male bankers? How could they do wrong? They criticize the bailouts in the abstract, but whenever they get more specific about why they happened, it always seems to be about Freddie and Fannie, lenders to the poor, the working class, and minorities, protected by Barney Frank who just wanted to practice sodomy with Herb Moses.

Their entire message when it comes to health care is that the government shouldn't have to pay for the leeches' health care, that people who don't have access to health care now should either go back to their country, get a job, or stop getting sick, dammit. They're worried about "rationing" happening because there won't be enough doctors to take care of everyone, a not much more polite way of saying they don't want to have to share the health care system with those who are currently uninsured.

And these are the same people who were trying to rush glasses of water into a hospital for Terri Schiavo years after she was brain dead. It's no surprise that they're just shouting epithets now.

Update: ABC got video of Frank being called a faggot:

Is this how shallow our discourse on the topic is? No one is happy with the slurs being tossed around, not Dems, not the GOP, not the tea baggers, not the people shouting the slurs themselves.... Everyone agrees it's wrong so there's really nothing to see here! And of course it's distracting from the real issues, which are just about people who don't want the undeserving to get access to health care. It has nothing to do with racism and homophobia.

They also bleeped out "faggot." Does that make sense when that is the story?

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(1) I grew up in southern Alabama in the 60’s and 70’s during the civil rights movement.
I’ve heard all of the language being used now back then too.
Even people screaming the words ‘ni88er’ and ‘fa88ot’.
It’s still for the same things.

They don’t like it when others surpass them.
They don’t like it when others succeed where they’ve failed.
They don’t like it when others are seen as more knowledgeable than they are.
They can’t stand it when others are happy when they’re not.

They do want their world to be more like 1950’s Mayberry RFD from TV.
They want white supremcey and all minorities to know their place.
They want ‘states rights’ to be above federal rights.
They reject government because they ‘know’ whats right and you don’t.
They don’t want to lose their childhood past which was a secure place for them to a future where they are old and may soon no longer exist.

In the end, they just hate you because that’s the way they are. You cannot change them. I know I tried for years but you can’t do it. You can only co-exist at best.

(2) The tea baggers say that we should privatize public health care to provide for the 30 million who do not have health insurance. I think we can make a profit if we privatize Medicare. That’s not turning to socialism but capitalism. Sell it off to the highest bidder. I’m sure we can make a buck off that.
Oh, and the death panels? Hey, who needs a death panel? Just so long as you keep your payments up on your Medicare coverage you’ll be fine…

(3) Yeah, I keep saying that to me it sounds too much like ku klux klan talking points are being used in the anti-GLBT rights campaign and in the current political arena (tea baggers) non-stop. I know, I heard all of that when I was a kid in the South.
Now days when I hear the same views coming from minority spokes people it always vexes me.
They say the words that have been (and are still being) used against them.

“Humans are illogical” ~Spock
I so agree with him.

I was in DC last week to lobby for ENDA and saw some of these "protestors" in action. Looking around, the Capitol Police were quite obviously a lot more worried about them than us. I felt safe, though. However, when I looked atop the steps to the Capitol, I saw two police officers armed like military combat troops, including automatic weapons (which I have no doubt were loaded) standing there, I was concerned for the safety our lawmakers. Now I hear how those same senators and representatives being referred to with racial and ethnic epithets plus being spit on as well.

It is now quite obvious it will be only a matter of time now before this so-called "tea party" movement turns violent. They use Glen Barf and Faux News as their (only) source of "facts" conveniently ignoring reality and hard evidence. When this violence does happen, and I have no doubt now it will, any government reaction whatsoever will be seen as additional 'evidence' of more government intervention.

I pray this does not turn violent, but like I said, I feel it has become only a matter of time until it does. As a result, I am now fearful for my own life. This area has too many like-minded types to ignore. (Side: We have a state rep whose district is immediately north of me running for state office; his biggest 'endorsement' so far? Yep - the Ohio "Tea Party".) I am too far out to ever go back in the closet, but I wonder how many of us will either stay there now or go back in because of such fear.

I am scared as hell now and that itself scares me.

>>I was in DC last week to lobby for ENDA and saw some of these "protestors" in action. Looking around, the Capitol Police were quite obviously a lot more worried about them than us. I felt safe, though. However, when I looked atop the steps to the Capitol, I saw two police officers armed like military combat troops, including automatic weapons (which I have no doubt were loaded) standing there, I was concerned for the safety our lawmakers.

The combat gear and automatic weapons has, unfortunately, become everyday practice on the Capitol grounds. If the cops were paying more attention to "them" than you, it was strictly a numbers game -- there were more of them.

Brenda Jean Louise | March 23, 2010 5:40 AM

Just when you think America is starting to improve with their prejudice issues, the tea baggers show up and prove you're mistaken. How shameful our public must seem in the eyes of any European.

The God Hates Protesters blog occasionally posts things from memory lane. There's a different target to the hate, but it's exactly the same.