The anger all but boiled off the page, and one marveled at the frustration, desperation, and primal rage so barely contained.
He remembered a frantic Autherine Lucy, as she was pelted with eggs and slurs as she dared become the first black student at the University of Alabama. The echoes of jeers hurled at the Little Rock Nine haunt his fevered memory and come alive as his poisoned pen seeks revenge. He recalls — much more recently — the sullen, dim-witted fury of Klansmen listening to David Duke shriek about white power in Metaire, Louisiana, as he ran for the governor’s office (and captured 55% of the white vote) in 1991.
Colbert I. King, Washington Post columnist, looks out his window and sees Klansmen again … in the faces of SUV-driving mothers, cherubic children, in the pained gait of Korea and Vietnam veterans who once again see a need to serve their country, and in homemade signs that read “I’m only 11…why am I paying your mortgage?”
In King’s March 27 column — “In the faces of tea party shouters, images of hate and history,” — the former deputy assistant editorial page editor of the Post is consumed by the very intense and visceral hate he would project on others.
Cherry-picking solitary slogans he finds offensive out of thousands of posters and blindly accepting charges of racism without a shred of evidence, King indulges in his own bigotry and basks in the hatred of a caricature he has created about an Other he refuses to know.
For not sharing his desire to spend someone else’s money, King libels your friends and neighbors as heirs to a craven ideology.
King’s cowardly refusal to engage anything more substantial than a strawman is a common shortcoming among the would-be intelligentsia. A day earlier in the New York Times, columnist Paul Krugman labeled the majority of Americans opposed to ObamaCare as “right-wingers” and “extremists” dedicated to “eliminationist” rhetoric, obliquely asserting that the controversial legislation was only opposed by would-be terrorists.
Quite purposefully and without shame, he turns a deaf ear to the cacophony of assassination fantasies his compatriots fetishized during the previous eight years.
The very next day, another Times columnist took up the gauntlet, smashing fury upon the unassuming mothers and grandparents that form the core of a grassroots effort to stand up against an overreaching government. Charles Blow echoed King and Krugman before him, asserting that the tea party rage must come from the deep-seated insecurities of “extremists.” Blow must have smirked with glee as he conjured up a comforting stereotype, which led him to blurt: “It’s enough to make a good old boy go crazy.”
A day later and deeper down in the muck, Frank Rich took up the cry, equating those who stand against the massive debt that would be created by a deeply flawed health care entitlement program with those who championed racial segregation. Like King, Krugman, and Blow before him, and like lesser talent Mike Lupica, looking to break into the “me, too!” club, Rich thrusts and parries against a creature called forth from his own imagination.
Their shared stereotypes are easily thwarted, ponderous, and predictable beasts.
Closeted and aging Klansmen. Gap-toothed hillbillies and incestuous bayou-dwellers. Barely literate and self-absorbed red-state hicks. These are the images that the left-wing pundits of coastal enclaves and lower-tier cable television news have convinced themselves to be the “real America.” It isn’t an America they can respect, but then, no recognizable iteration of America could be. We all wish it was otherwise, but the disdain is palpable in print, online, on television, and over the airwaves (though judging by ratings, few are cognizant of the latter two).
But the Americans rallying on Facebook, Twitter, websites, and message boards are blind to the color of one’s skin, unswayed by the twang of one’s voice, and dismissive of the infirmities of age. Age, color, creed — it all washed away in the pixels, and only the power of the mind and the gift of communication remains.
Perhaps it is because of the influence of today’s social media that communication skills, and not political connections, are the organizing force behind the tea party movement. The most active members in this grassroots effort are those worried about their family’s futures, especially those of their young children being shackled to the load generated by ideologues that cannot understand the futility of trying to spend your way out of debt.
Unsurprisingly, mothers form the backbone of a movement dedicated to preserving the nation’s future for the benefit of their children and grandchildren. Women make up the bulk of the tea party leadership at every level of organization, and it is not surprising to discover that the movement may be as much as 55% to 60% women.
“Angry white men” is the comforting fallacy of old-line liberal bigotry.
The reality of our times is that the backbones of the tea party movement are charming, self-policing women, and they lead not a fringe, but a majority of Americans.
Krugman, King, and their allies are forced to dredge up the imagery of the past in an effort to slander our friends and neighbors. Attempting to libel the real movement by attacking those who form its base would resort in a rising tide of anger against a group of elitists rhetorically engaged in beating down women (as opposed to some of their followers, who do so literally).
We would be well-served by a media that would discuss the merits and flaws of the tea party movement based upon what they actually represent and who they actually are, instead of retreating to do battle with worn-through caricatures. We would be well-served by a media interested in presenting the flaws and shortcomings of the progressive argument as well.
Sadly, this is not to be. We are saddled by ideologues mired in partisanship, practiced in deception, and blinded by their own hatred.