Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Being a Tea Party Leader

For all of my friends and foes out there who believe that the essence of Tea Parties is legitimate please take a listen to this hypocritical leader, Mark Williams, who tried to mask his racist ideology by saying that the Tea Parties are all about Americans standing up for their rights after being "attacked" by their own government. (Pay particular attention to his incendiary word choices and tone when describing President Obama and the administration. By the way, where was he 8 years ago?) His appearance on "Anderson Cooper 360" was quite revealing

Mark Williams likened the Washington Tea Party to a "picnic" celebrating America where parents and kids gathered. (Wasn't it odd that there were no Native American, African American, or Hispanic American families in attendance?) The picnic line was reminiscent of some other picnics where charred bodies hung from trees amid joviality and revelry with parents and kids in attendance eating bar-b-que.

Mark Williams tried to say that the Washington Tea Party was about the honesty of Americans who want to take back their government from big corporations who gave them the money to hire buses and print despicable signs such as "Bury Obamacare with Kennedy." There will always be nutcases as was during the "so-called peace demonstrations" he explained. In attendance were simply fringe elements that did not represent the whole. He painted the Washington Tea Party with big bold red, white and blue strips that a non-white racist like, Maureen Dowd, could deride. The large majority of those in attendance were rational Americans who love their country and despise interference with the government but were all for such interference in cases like the Terry Shiavo case where they injected themselves and the government in between a husband and wife.

This was all sounding pretty good and could have deceived many listeners until Anderson Cooper called Williams out on his hypocrisy: "What you're saying makes sense to me here when I'm hearing what you say but then I read on your blog, you say, you call the President 'an Indonesian Muslim turned welfare thug and a racist in chief.'"

Mark Williams did not back down from this statement. This is who President Obama is he insisted. Now, how can such a movement led by the like of Williams be legitimate? It cannot be said that everybody in attendance in Washington over the weekend were racists. It cannot perhaps be said that everybody at picnics where black bodies burned were racists also; they simply went along. What is most certainly known for sure is that the majority of people have never changed policy for good or ill. History proves this repeatedly, again and again throughout the centuries, in country after country. So, will history repeat itself yet again for ill?


John O'Leary said...

Judith, if you had told me that Williams was taken seriously enough by CNN to be interviewed alongside Gergen & Carville - especially given his recent comments on his blog - I would not have believed you.

Maureen Dowd had an interesting take on Joe Wilson, if you missed it: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/13/opinion/13dowd.html?_r=1

Judith Ellis said...

John - I had never heard of Williams before this. Gergen and Carville were just in complete disbelief. Much of their time was spent laughing. They didn't really take him seriously.

But Williams and the teabaggers SHOULD be taken seriously. If they can organize 50,000 to 75,000 people and make the noise they made during the recess, they should be challenged on every hand and side made to speak and not rant on their discontent. Much of it, I think, will reveal ideas that President Carter spoke of this evening and Anderson Cooper exposed in his interview.

Dave Wheeler mentioned the Dowd piece earlier this week, but seemingly in negative terms as if she was using race as a tool for progressive thinking. Others also have done the same, especially those on Fox News.

Thanks for the link. I'll read it.

Dave Wheeler said...


I mentioned the Dowd piece along with comments of Rep Diane Watson's and Rep Charles Rangel. An example of what Dowd writes "What I heard was an unspoken word in the air — you lie, boy!... Wilson clearly did not like being lectured and even rebuked by the brainy black president presiding over the majestic chamber." Wow...

Ones "opinion" does not a fact make. The ability to hear the unspoken and to use that to pass judgement on the content of anothers character based on that assumption is is another example of the many "isms" that hamper us as a nation. Racism...class-ism...ageism. I'm thinking any "thinking" that is based on unsubstantiated assumptions of another's character is neither progressive or constructive. My parents and Dr. King taught me that lesson quite a few decades ago as did Presidential candidate Barack Obama in a speech in Philedelphia. I have tried to live my personal and professional life following those basic philosophies.

"For we have a choice in this country. We can accept a politics that breeds division, and conflict, and cynicism. We can tackle race only as spectacle - as we did in the OJ trial - or in the wake of tragedy, as we did in the aftermath of Katrina - or as fodder for the nightly news. We can play Reverend Wright's sermons on every channel, every day and talk about them from now until the election, and make the only question in this campaign whether or not the American people think that I somehow believe or sympathize with his most offensive words. We can pounce on some gaffe by a Hillary supporter as evidence that she's playing the race card, or we can speculate on whether white men will all flock to John McCain in the general election regardless of his policies.

We can do that.

But if we do, I can tell you that in the next election, we'll be talking about some other distraction. And then another one. And then another one. And nothing will change."

"I would not be running for President if I didn't believe with all my heart that this is what the vast majority of Americans want for this country. This union may never be perfect, but generation after generation has shown that it can always be perfected."

Space didn't permit including all the words of this speech, but you can get a feel for where he was headed with this. Like you I may not agree with the President on every issue or solution but when I do the reason isn't his race...he damn sure hit the nail on the head with the words above on that topic! And with his comment on Kanye! As for Beyonce...pure class!

Bob said...

Williams is hateful and racist, but that doesn't prove that most opposition to Obama is. Because racism is so hateful and incendiary I believe we should be very cautious about using that term. Maureen Dowd was out of line.

Judith Ellis said...

Thank you, Dave, for your comment. It's appreciated. I think the distinction in the Philadelphia speech is the "vast majority." But as I said in the post it is not usually the vast majority that bring change for good or ill. It's usally a small band of folks. I do not agree at all with much of what I have heard or seen at Tea Parties or town halls throughout the country. I think President Carter spoke truth tonight about the under current prevailing racist tone in the culture arising after the election of President Obama, seemingly to de-legitimize his presidency from birthers to indoctrinizers with the sanction of leadership. Silence is sanction. It is, of course, not the majority of Americans. But it is that very small band of vocal folks that I address in the post that could cause great harm.

Judith Ellis said...

Bob - I completely agree that opposition to President Obama does not equate to racism. I've written on my opposition here and elsewhere to some of his policies and I am not a racist or against the President. It is because I so honor him and love my country that I voice my opinion, however, respectfully, as I did with President Bush.

There is something about the Dowd piece, after reading it tonight, that did not altogether sit well with me. I think Dave put his finger on it and I am more inclined to also think that "she was out of line" with this piece. There was conjecture that made me uncomfortable. We can't put words in people's mouths. But I have read more than a few pieces that she has written that I have agreed with.

I respect your opinion, Bob. Thank you.

wmmbb said...

I find it hard to understand what the protesters are on about, and I suppose it has economic dimensions, but I expect it primarily rascist in nature.

They see themselves (let me suppose) in their mental frame as the real Americans and all the rest as others, so they cannot accept that the President. So when little boy calls out in this video, "get out of here you Unmericans" that reflects his conditioning.

In practical political terms it means that working class Americans to some extent, perhaps with regional variations are disunited and cannot develop solidarity.

Is'nt "the street theatre" clever?

Judith Ellis said...

Wmmbb - I appreciate your comment and agree largely with it. I think also that a very large portion of Americans, those at the rallies included, are insecure about their financial situation. The problem is how we handle it. This is what will make the difference.

What we seem to have here is the resurrgence of racist ideology coupled with financial fear. The question to ask is if these two things for many of these people in attendance at these rallies are inextricably bound. Is this an existential fear born of racist ideology?

I do not know if Joe Wilson is a racist. I do not know the man. But I read recently the words of his son, who happens to be running for some office in South Carolina, that there is not a racist bone in his dad's body. He can verify this as someone who was raised by two loving people. I'm sure the same thing was said by many children of their parents in the 60's and before. Some were true and others false.

When I read the son's words I remembered my middle school and college friends telling me this about their parents and was absolutely amazed at what came out of their mouths. I was also unsure about the question marks in their eyes and the seemingly sour dour of their lips. What did these things mean? Had I said something? But I had not said anything by then but merely walked in their home.

I think perspective and conditioning have a lot to do with how kids see thier parent. But I have also had many friends when their parents said things that were insensitive would say things like "that's not right."

Many liberals pride themselves on liberalism, but the racial divide is astonishing. I really don't care what you call yourself or what color you are. I wanna know WHO you are. I want to know how you live your life daily.

Many liberals in Boston or Connecticut or in the mid-west in Michigan or Ohio pride themselves on being liberal. But the divide between blacks and white remain great. The advances still overwhelming, not merely because of talent but because of station--the lack of entrance--even with black governors or the president.

We have come a long way but there is still a bit to go. Diverse people rarely eat out together or gather outside of work or live side by side in many northern cities. Maybe this tells a more real story of northern racism. Many times these places can be just as racist as towns in the deep south.

Facebook and twitter friends make a point too regarding regions as in that it really doesn't matter. Black people largely have black friends and white friends largely have white friends. This seems to largely extend from surrounding and comfort level. Personally, I have been literally all over the map my entire life, nationally and internationally with friends of various nationalities, races, stations, classes, etc. I pride myself on just simply getting to know people.

What we really have to do is apply this golden rule: "Do (say) unto others as you would have them do (say) unto you (and your loved ones.) Another is: "Love covers a multitude of faults," even the faults of racists. "Let brothery love continue." Cultivate it. But this does not mean to avoid the acknoledgment of truth.

Peace and love to all... Hopefully, we are all becoming better, becoming more of what we will yet be... We are always in a state of flux; there is no stand still position. The question to ask ourselves often is in which direction are we heading? Will you help me get there, that constant state of improvment, as I do the same for you?

Judith Ellis said...

I saw this video. Thanks for posting it here. I love the ironic theater reply. The kids are the most disheartening. Their parents should be ashamed of themselves. But obviously they're not. Instead, they are brimming with pride. This is why I hoped that many adults attending these rallies were sterile. The kids who hollered "un-American," and "bad" made my heart weep.