On Tea Party, Morgan Freeman Should Follow His Past Advice

Where’s the Morgan Freeman who once called for an end to condescending racial hand-wringing? Where’s the Morgan Freeman who once stunned Mike Wallace by calling Black History Month “ridiculous”?

You’re gonna relegate my history to a month?… I don’t want a Black History Month. Black history is American history… Stop talking about [racism]. I’m gonna stop calling you a white man, and I’m gonna ask you to stop calling me a black man. I know you as Mike Wallace. You know me as Morgan Freeman.

That venerable actor appears to be gone, replaced by a bitter doppelganger engaged in the very race-baiting he once decried.

Last month saw the broadcast of an interview with Freeman by CNN’s Piers Morgan:

… Morgan asked the actor, "Has Obama helped the process of eradicating racism or has it, in a strange way, made it worse?”

“Made it worse. Made it worse,” Freeman replied. “The tea partiers who are controlling the Republican party ... their stated policy, publicly stated, is to do whatever it takes to see to it that Obama only serves one term. What underlines that? Screw the country. We're going to do whatever we can to get this black man out of here."

Freeman cited no comment or action which supports his characterization of the Tea Party. Instead he perpetuated the Left's long-standing argument from intimidation, that any opposition to President Obama or his policies is self-evidently racist:

Dismissing Morgan's suggestion that the Tea Party's motivations might be merely political, Freeman asserted, "It is a racist thing."

Freeman’s take on the Tea Party is uniquely disappointing. Coming from a man who has clearly thought outside the leftist box, rejected the condescension of lowered expectations, and recognized the cultural apartheid of race-based history, it is particularly disheartening to see the unfounded assumption that political disagreement is motivated by bigotry.

Such assumptions, asserted as self-evident fact, preclude much needed debate on the issues of the day. One cannot confront an adversary they do not understand. Even if Freeman fundamentally disagrees with every principle the Tea Party upholds, he fails to argue against those principles by imputing distasteful motives.

Alas, this has become the standard mode of attack against the Tea Party. Rather than engage on the issues, detractors leap straight to name-calling. When it’s not an accusation of racism, it’s one of stupidity, partisanship, or malice:

Gov. Deval Patrick, the first black governor of Massachusetts, said it’s not clear to him that racism is motivating the Tea Party.

“I can tell you that it’s clear from the evidence that the, ‘To heck with the interests of the common good, whatever we need to do to derail this presidency,’ has characterized some if not all Tea Party behavior in the United States. There’s no doubt about it,” he told a local Boston radio show, according to the Boston Globe.

Such has been the Left’s talking point since the debt ceiling debate. The Tea Party has taken the country hostage. Tea Partiers are economic terrorists. The Tea Party is the enemy.