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A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
Black Agenda Radio Commentaries
May 11, 2010
Weasel corporate media operatives strain to erase the stain of racism from the Tea Party “movement” – largely a media creation – while white nationalist leaders hide the hoods and nooses in the darker recesses of their bunkers. Yet the data seem to show that racism is what gives the Tea Party mass appeal (45 percent approval) among whites.
by Helen Cox, used with permission
© All rights reserved.
“A near majority of whites approve of the Tea Party, and majorities of them subscribe to the most debased stereotypes of Black people.”
The corporate media have a problem. The so-called Tea Party movement that is the latest incarnation of centuries-old white American nationalism, cannot escape its racist roots, which makes everything the Tea Partyers say fruit of the racially poisoned tree. Having nurtured the Tea Party phenomenon at every stage of its existence, the corporate media now twist and turn and contort themselves in search of ways to make white nationalism respectable. That’s a difficult mission, since the racism of both the Tea Party’s rank and file and its leadership is not easily sanitized.
Polls associated with major newspapers and broadcast networks have historically been woefully inadequate when dealing with matters of race – as should be expected, since corporate media excel at papering over racial divisions so as not to upset important segments of their audiences. That’s one reason why corporate media speak in “code,” cloaking movements and events that are actually heavily charged with race in coded phrases like “family values,” law and order,” and “fiscal responsibility.” Ever since the Republicans replaced the Dixiecrats as the White Man’s Party, two generations ago, there has been a gentlemen’s agreement among all but the most undisciplined racists to clean up their language in public – to use code when speaking of race, so as not to embarrass one another.
“There has been a gentlemen’s agreement among all but the most undisciplined racists to clean up their language in public.”
But loud and obnoxious elements of the Tea Party movement have not felt bound by this agreement. They have communicated their rage at the erosion of white supremacy in ways that are not only understandable to Blacks, whose antennas are always alert to racial threats, but also to code-speaking whites, a huge number of whom like what they hear.
While the corporate media find ways to fudge the racial character of the Tea Party, academic researchers at the University of Washington released a study showing the Tea Partyers have achieved real mass appeal among whites. Fully forty-five percent of whites either strongly approve or somewhat approve of the Tea Partyers. And, among those whites favorable to the Tea Party movement, “only 35% believe Blacks to be hardworking, only 45 % believe Blacks are intelligent, and only 41% think that Blacks are trustworthy.” Put another way: a near majority of whites approve of the Tea Party, and majorities of them subscribe to the most debased stereotypes of Black people. Which means, the majority of whites who look kindly on the Tea Party are themselves hardcore racists.
But it’s worse than that. The real story lies in how much the general white public shares the worldview of the Tea Partyers. Sixty percent of Tea Partyers agree with the statement, “We have gone too far in pushing equal rights in this country.” But 42 percent of white people in general also think that way, marking them as unreconstructed racists.
In short, the Tea Party’s biggest drawing card is its racism, just as white racism was central to the success of the Republican Party’s “southern strategy,” beginning in the late Sixties. Forget about the Tea Party’s other supposed issues, like the budget and the bank bailout. That’s not what puts fire in their bellies. This is America, remember? Race is all some white people understand. For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.
BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.
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