Open Thread: Tea Bag Racism?

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By now, you’ve probably heard about the “tea bag” protests on April 15 (tax day for folks in the U.S. – image from HuffPo).  “Tea” here is an acronym that stands for “taxed enough already,” and is meant to be a play on the revolutionary war era Boston Tea Party.   The term “tea bagging” also has another meaning – not related to drinking tea – which has prompted no end of bad punning and adolescent humor.

The protests are, depending on who you ask, either a grassroots movement of angry citizens upset about high taxes, or an astroturf – or fake grassroots campaign organized by the GOP and pumped by FOX News, or this is about hating a black man in the White House. This is racism straight up,” as Janeane Garofalo said the other night.

So, time for a Friday Open Thread.  What do you think?   Is it a movement of angry citizens upset about high taxes?  Is it astroturf, or fake grass roots?  Or, is it racism straight up?   Why?

Take the poll (to the left of this post).  Or, if you prefer the short answer/essay version, drop a comment.   Be sure to answer the “why” portion.

Comments

  1. As I wrote in my own post on the topic, I don’t think the populist (and misled) objection to taxes is itself “racism straight up.” On the other hand, the forms that protest took (as in the sign on display in this post’s photo, and in many others) often were racist. I think the anti-tax protest was a chance to express a lot of frustration, and some of that consisted of pent-up racism.

  2. So ok. They’re really upset about taxes. 95% of them are getting a TAX CUT. It doesn’t make sense.

    And what’s with Texas and all the talk about gov’t not listening to the people? We just had an election not 6 mos ago, and most a govt doing what it was elected to do. This isn’t tyranny. This is losing an election.

  3. Nquest

    95% of them are getting a TAX CUT. It doesn’t make sense.
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    EXACTLY!
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    It’s funny how all-of-a-sudden people are so fed up with taxes that they are moved to take it to the street. They didn’t take to the street when Bush was in office which makes the signs that say the same thing happened under Bush (and Clinton) rather suspect.
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    I mean, Obama hasn’t even been in office 100 days and the reality of the sinking economy where undeniable well before Obama took office or had even won the election. So the idea that faux-populism doesn’t appear to be “straight up racism” is irrelevant.
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    If it walks like a duck…
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    I want someone to tell me why any kind of “pent-up” racism would come out in so-called “anti-tax” protest. I think one sarcastic post on Macon D’s blog spells it out since some folks can’t seem to see the connection and open confession made by all the other racist signs:
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    whites who don’t voluntarily and without complaint give up more of their earned money to the “other” are now really “racists.”
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    So it’s about more than losing the election…

  4. Nquest, you lost me after “if it walks like a duck.”

    That said, ok, so let’s say it’s about the election. They’re “tired” and “fed up” after only 3mos. They’re calling this a “tyranny” after 3mos. We had an election. They lost. I don’t remember this reaction when Clinton won after 12 years of Repubs in the white house. If it’s the economic crises, why are they wasting money on tea and signs? None of this makes any sense. At the end of the day, the one thing that makes all of this nonsense make sense is racism.

  5. jwbe

    Watching this as somebody from abroad so sorry if I get something wrong. For me this “tea parties” are a movement of disturbed whites to ‘get the country back’
    There is a website “After the tea party” by “American Majority”, their statement:
    “Across the United States hundreds of thousands of citizens rallied at the Tax Day Tea Parties.  Their message was simple: let us not abandon what has brought us over 200 years of freedom and prosperity.  Freedom for individuals and freedom in the marketplace is the solution no matter what the circumstances our country may be facing.
    American Majority supporters and staff joined the Tea Partiers at dozens of events in more than 15 states across the country.  There at the Tea Parties, many were invited to speak about what has made America great and why radical expansion of the federal government is not the solution in tougher economic times.”
    http://americanmajority.org/

    What I consider as dangerous is how easily whites can be manipulated, living in illusions and a world built up on lies. A white majority easily believed the Bush government’s lies on 9/11 and agreed to a war in Afghanistan and Iraq.
    While there has always been silence by the majority of whites regardless which crimes America committed, now they are “angry”. Racism doesn’t always come in a direct way.

  6. Nquest

    No1KState, I’m saying the same thing you are:
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    At the end of the day, the one thing that makes all of this nonsense make sense is racism.
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    If it was merely about a “lost election” then the response, even the partisan response, would be more like what happened once Clinton was elected.
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    When I said “if it walks like a duck”, I’m saying the reason why racist themes rise to the surface when the protest is supposed to be about taxation is because racism is part of the issue and, given Thordaddy’s statement, racism has always been part of the anti-tax mentality among Whites in recent history anyway. So, outside of a shrinking group of ideological purist, there is simply no way to minimize or separate the racial views of the protesters from the anti-tax protests.

  7. Ok. Got it. I just couldn’t make sense of what you said. I get brain locked that way sometimes.

    And now that I think about it, I know racism was part of the reagan revolution. But I hadn’t taken time to consider the connection to anti-tax. I had taken anti-tax at face value. But, you know, I guess anti-tax and racism goes together. White people don’t wanna pay for “other” people, even if they’re mostly paying for themselves as everyone else. Wow. You have really said something.

  8. It’s stupid, that’s what it is.

    Most of these people are just idiots or nuts – search for the tea party “book burning” video, or something to that effect. The best part of that video is when a “teabagger” (yea, I know) shouts that there are brainwashing devices in the TVs.

    Other videos of these protests show protesters claiming Obama (I don’t like him, he’s just a politician) is a fascist, communist, socialist, dictator, etc. None of these people even know what fascism or communism are, they’re just repeating what they’ve heard on Fox News.

    Speaking of Fox News, gotta love how they derided the protests after the Gore/Bush elections and said that people needed to get over losing already…yet look what they’re doing now.

  9. It’s racist. These people are upset at the thought of having a black president/black man in charge of America.

    They want to “take back” America and push blacks back to the back of the country’s consciousness. I do also believe there’s a fear that blacks are going to “pay back” white people for slavery, discrimination and racism.

  10. Seattle in Texas

    Mehehe,

    I would call it golf-course grass/turf exhibitions by snotty nosed white folks—and an inherently racist one at that. I’m in favor of a lot more than taxing those in the top 5%–like putting caps on income, wealth, business profits, etc., (will stop there)…I think President Obama was being very generous at where he set that marker—but it’s a start….

    I think these actions are very telling—the fact that they can come out like that and cry out “white slavery”. It would suprise me if much of that wealth and riches are probably direct passed down inheritances from antebellum slavery for many, or are direct descendants of slave owners and so forth—the brutal slave system African American communities has yet to recover from. They probably haven’t a clue what actual “work” is or what being “sick and tired” is really like. To cry out slavery…particularly by anybody in that tax bracket—regardless of old or new wealth/income or of many or only a couple of generations. Whose sympathy are they trying to get?

    Some of my friends are from The Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia—the name of their nation as it was they were born into, raised in, and left as. To put it mildly, they are glad to be alive today. In that territory now and since the war, they describe it as vehemently racist—no people of color, Jews, or Gypsies. Now it is a world of “free capitalism” and of crime and terrible corruption—their country was brutally taken over by lethal fascist. Prior, it was very diverse, hardly any crime at all, and as they say, “even the Gypsies were taken care of. Everybody’s needs were met.” Having lived under a real socialist system, they have had many laughs at the media and GOP calling President Obama a “socialist” in particular (get a kick out of the communist assertion too though)—and with a few glasses of wine? I had to share because it nicely coincides with the point noted above about it all being just stupid—very accurately put…. And in lines of jwbe’s note of the lies American’s believe and even internalize….

    And just for giggles—while on socialism and capitalism, my state, Western side, has always claimed an appreciation for socialism…but can that be truly claimed with an equal appreciation for capitalism? Here’s the front page of our magazine that gets at that for anybody interested:

    http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/pacificnw06032007/index.html

  11. Nquest

    They want to “take back” America and push blacks back to the back of the country’s consciousness.
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    They (or you) would be rather presumptuous. Obama’s presidency has done little to push Blacks to the forefront of the country’s consciousness, Obama and his family notwithstanding.
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    Regarding “pushing blacks back to the back of the country’s consciousness” and the Obamas, the reactions to a story about Michelle Obama’s reported lack of selling power when it comes to non-black magazines that feature her on the cover are rather interesting and are, perhaps, part of this phenomenon you’re referring to.
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    I do also believe there’s a fear that blacks are going to “pay back” white people for slavery
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    Yeah, that sign at the tea-party about “Obama’s Plan” was rather explicit in stating as much.

  12. Seattle and others – correct me if I’m wrong – it’s a low percentage of white people who’s ancestors own slaves. So, how much wealth they would collectively have is debatable. While I doubt any of the of hardly poor or working class, they’re millionaires either.

    Much of the wealth from slavery and neo-slavery is in the banks and large industries -coal and steel, for example, and, US govt in terms of taxes/revenue made from slave wealth. There’s a bank in Atlanta that has roots in holding slaveholder’s money.

    That said, with an economy that’s always intertwined, only very, very recent immigrants can say their ancestors didn’t benefit from slavery or neo-slavery. Ie, even if you’re family didn’t own slaves, they have been growing food that was sold to plantations for the slaves; maybe they made furniture that was bought with profits of slavery, etc and so on.

    Other than that, Seattle, I’m completely with you when it comes to cries of socialism and communism, etc. They make me wanna say to them what I say to my cousins 2-year-old when she starts whining, “Oh, stop it.” She stops. But. I will point out something you’ll really love. Remember when “us liberals” were complaining about actions of the Bush administration? Now, I’m not saying you should do this, it’s childish really, but it feels SOOOO good – you can find someone who’s complaining about the state of affairs and say to them what they used to say to us: this is A-marr-i-ca, love it or leave it! But, don’t forget, some states like Texas actually are trying to leave. Sad.

    Nquest – those numbers don’t surprise me. I’m glad it’s not worse.

  13. Nquest

    it’s a low percentage of white people who’s ancestors own slaves
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    Slave-owners weren’t the only people who made money off of slavery. The Hartford Courant ran a series, “Complicity”, that covered a range of issues showing how cotton mills and other kinds of industry (e.g. elephant tusks, ivory trading and manufacturing) rose to prominence in Northern cities due to its connection to some product acquired or produced by slaves, etc.
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    Further, all able-bodied white males were required — and some were paid — to be a part of militias which formed “slave patrols.”
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    In another thread, someone mentioned the Homestead Act(s). Well, according to information cited in a 2007 thread on this blog:
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    “From the 1860s to the 1930s, under the Homestead Act, the U.S. government gave away about 246 million acres for some 1.5 million homesteads. Researcher Trina Williams-Shanks estimates that today some 46 million Americans are current beneficiaries of this wealth-generating giveaway, from which black families were largely excluded.”
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  14. “That said, with an economy that’s always intertwined, only very, very recent immigrants can say their ancestors didn’t benefit from slavery or neo-slavery. Ie, even if you’re family didn’t own slaves, they have been growing food that was sold to plantations for the slaves; maybe they made furniture that was bought with profits of slavery, etc and so on.” – also in the comment you’re responding to
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    I completely agree with you, Nquest. I was just responding to Seattle’s, ”
    It would suprise me if much of that wealth and riches are probably direct passed down inheritances from antebellum slavery for many, or are direct descendants of slave owners and so forth”

  15. I completely agree with you, Nquest. I was just responding to Seattle’s, “It would [not] suprise me if much of that wealth and riches are probably direct passed down inheritances from antebellum slavery for many, or are direct descendants of slave owners and so forth”

  16. Seattle in Texas

    Yeah No1KState, I really don’t know what that percentage would be that you addressed above in my statement. Nonetheless, I personally wouldn’t be surprised if it were pretty high though—it’s interesting where family trees lead back to, and also what they can make invisible…. But even beyond that, that early wealth, that was used to generate more wealth and prosperity across generations, and even later benefiting newcomers to the nation and so forth–this is a nation built upon slavery. I tend to think out of the Chaos Theory quite a bit and at times puts me on a different page from others…so my apologies. Anyway, yes, very glad about President Obama, indeed. 😀

  17. No, no, no Seattle. We’re completely on the same page. I just don’t want you to get your hopes up about what individual families may have. That’s all. Some people may have only a couch or a sewing machine that was passed down, but that’s something. So, I completely agree.

    And no question this country built its wealth on slavery. It’s not too much to ask for reparations.

  18. jwbe

    >Seattle and others – correct me if I’m wrong – it’s a low percentage of white people who’s ancestors own slaves. So, how much wealth they would collectively have is debatable. While I doubt any of the of hardly poor or working class, they’re millionaires either.
    .
    I think it is not so much about individual wealth but the economic network whites were able to built, also with Europe and by exploiting African nations and South America (by both the US and European countries). This enabled the US to become a superpower with the possibility to have access to all resources around the globe. The West is still in the power to dictate the market, prices, rules of trade and therefore continues to discriminate against non-Western nations.
    Not to mention the harm done to African nations by abducting millions of people from Africa during the slave trade, creating new countries by drawing new borders and founding new countries in Africa under white rule, causing conflicts, missionary work, stealing the many natural resources etc.

  19. Seattle in Texas

    I see what you’re saying. But even then, for those who are white and have direct ancestry that ties back versus those who are of African descent and have like or directly related ancestry/lineage. The outcomes…just white privilege alone at minimum that white folks inherited versus the racism—at minimum, regardless. Reparations over due? Uhhh, yeah! No No1KState, not too much to ask for. Reparations are not enough…maybe like a new social order on top of it???

    Well, and to take it further (I come a part of the nation where when we look at the U.S. we look back east—Maine, New York, etc. on around down south of us—California…at least that’s sort of a way to explain our geographical viewpoint in a way), I think most estimations are limited to the deep Southern states only? It’s a practice that took place in states that I don’t think many estimations accounted for (Texas for example on back up into my own state…or Indian Territory at the time…perhaps even after…). A practice that traveled back to the West Coast well after slavery was legally abolished…. Well, and not to mention the genocide and theft of land and all that surviving tribal folks have endured into today…. How many folks have ancestry/lineage that ties directly back to Indian slayers and butchers? I don’t know what else to say about the irreversible damages to many this nation has caused and with all honesty, have to shut down here. There is so much historically unaccounted for and/or hidden.

    In terms of those who are being affected by President Obama’s plan—I was questioning the top 5%–I know plenty of others below that are sniffling too. For anybody white and paying taxes to cry out “white slavery”, regardless.

    And jwbe, I agree. I think the points above in all are correct–at least to the best of my knowledge and understanding of how the world works most generally–just different levels of analyses were addressed and from varying angles (I was just throwing out my own general thoughts, wonders, and initial response to the main post). But I think the responses above are compatible in all. And discussing expansion beyond the U.S.? Irreversible damages, past and in progress, etc.? Absolutely–and necessary. *queasy*

    Thank you to you both, No1KState and jwbe for the interesting and important points you noted–making for much criticial thinking here on my end…. 🙂

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