Do They Wear White Hoods to Their Tea Parties?

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I did not watch the coverage of the protests against Obamacare last weekend, nor the coverage of the actual passing of the health care bill, nor the coverage of President Obama’s signing. I had had enough by the time all this came up. I knew where I stood, nothing that happened in the last 24 hours was going to change my mind, and I definitely had better things to do.

Therefore I did not “see” any of that happen in real time, and cannot vouch for what happened one way or the other. I have seen some after-the-fact coverage on CNN and MSNBC, but just a little before I could get around to changing the channel.

But now I’m concerned about the accusations of racism being hurled at the Tea Party protesters. In particular, charges that they shouted epithets at black members of Congress as they were headed for the Capitol chambers to vote.

If that charge is accurate, it points — at the very least — to pretty poor crowd control on the part of the Tea Party organizers. I do not believe they are so morally deficit as to condone something like that, or so politically tone-deaf that they wouldn’t realize how an incident like that can damage and even destroy a movement.

So, I turned with interest to an article forwarded to me, "Anatomy of a Racial Smear," by Jack Cashill. It appears to be a pretty well-reasoned article, even though it appears in a neocon rag (The American Thinker) that I don’t usually cite approvingly.

"Tea Party protesters scream u2018nigger’ at black congressman"

That’s the headline on an article Cashill says was written by reporter William Douglas, and published by the McClatchy Newspapers chain. I couldn’t believe a supposedly respectable newspaper chain would put something that inflammatory in print, so I started Googling, and here it is, right on the chain’s site.

The question then becomes, is it true? And Cashill does a convincing job of taking that headline apart, word by word, as well as the article itself. Truth, it appears, is pretty elusive. The smear, you come to believe, is everywhere in that McClatchy headline and article.

Check it out. Read Cashill’s article, and while you’re at it, definitely check out his links — a video of the Tea Party protesters shouting at the congressional Black Caucus (see if you can hear the "N" word) and an audio link of House Majority Whip James CIyburn, who walked with the Black Caucus contingent, admitting to Keith Olbermann afterwards, "I didn’t hear the slurs." (Maybe that’s because there were none?)

Use of the word "nigger" has no place in our political discourse, of course, or in protests. But so far the only place I’ve actually seen or heard use of the epithet is in that McClatchy Newspapers headline and article.

Videotapes are everywhere today. Has anyone actually seen or heard a tape where the Tea Party protesters at the Capitol used racial taunts or epithets? If so, please bring this to my attention. Short of some real evidence, all we seem to have is the “word” of members of the Black Caucus and an apparently biased reporter. I wouldn’t take the word of a Black Caucus congressman if he had both hands on the Bible, they are such propagandists. Ha, that’s probably true with any Member of Congress other than Ron Paul, so maybe I’m being racist myself in singling out the Black Caucus. But they are very conspicuous propagandists, and they’re the center of this particular story.

I’ve personally witnessed only one Tea Party gathering, the original one on Capitol Hill last year, and that was as an observer. I wanted to see how many people showed up. What I saw were very ordinary Americans. Definitely not the Beautiful People you see at Washington soires, both on the Left and the Right. Most of them probably were not exactly “sophisticated” in their way of expressing their concerns — ordinary Americans, after all, have better things to pursue with their lives than politics, things such as jobs, family, etc. But they were angry enough to get off their duffs and come to Washington to protest. That anger, however, was directed at the federal government’s messing up their lives, and our nation’s future. I certainly heard or saw no anger that was racist.

Isn’t this the kind of civic involvement all the "good government" types say we should be encouraging? Why is it (in the MSM) that only leftist rallies and demonstrations are portrayed as virtuous?

I am certain there are some racists in the Tea Party movement, just as there are in any broad-based movement. That doesn’t mean they define it, and from what I’ve seen, the Tea Party organizers have tried to weed them out. Heck, there are racists in any big civil rights gathering, only their racism is directed at whites. I see fear of homos and fear of Mexicans as much bigger problems on the Right today.

Do not mistake vehemence for something more sinister

Americans have every right to be angry at almost everything the feds do, and passions on both sides were strained as this epochal battle over health care reached the final vote. I look at the video linked in Cashill’s article, and I definitely do see anger. But no evidence of racism. What — were they supposed to stop their protesting and just smile and wave “hello” to these congressmen because they were black? That’s racism itself.

By the way, can anyone explain why the members of the Black Caucus were walking through the crowd? Where were they coming from? Since I didn’t watch the live coverage, I have no idea why they were there.

Congressmen usually take the underground Capitol Hill subway when going from their Senate and House office buildings (if that’s where they were coming from) to the Capitol for a vote. And if they are arriving by car, the car usually pulls right up to an entrance of the Capitol, so in that case they wouldn’t be walking a gauntlet through the crowd. Call me Mr. Suspicious, but it sort of looks to me like they wanted to provoke a reaction — not such a stretch for members of the Black Caucus. Call me Mr. Conspiracist, but I think I smell a set-up.

So, show me the videotape or recording evidence — not of vehemence, but of actual racism. If you produce it, I’m ready to condemn it. Short of that, I condemn the people who smear their opposition — without evidence — with such labels. That sort of group-smear may be politics as usual, but that’s why most Americans hate politics as usual.

A note to my liberal friends:

If you are uncomfortable with the vehemence of the protests, all I can say is, get used to it. It’s only going to get worse in the years ahead, on both the Left and the Right. As the nation heads toward bankruptcy, “entitlements” will be drastically cut and taxes will be drastically raised. There are going to be a lot of pissed-off people.

David Franke [send him mail] one of the founders of the conservative movement in the 1950s and 1960s. He is the author of a dozen books, including Safe Places, The Torture Doctor, and America’s Right Turn.

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