Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Racism Or Not

President Obama may not want race to be a part of defining opposition to his Administration and politically I agree that he's better off not engaging it. That may be politically sensible but being that doesn't mean a thing about accuracy. If you look at Teabaggery the entire absence of actual issues and facts divides that mess into emotional ideological stance and flat out racism. You're going to have to go a pretty long ways to convince me that racism isn't the largest segment. No, your individual denials of racism are only going to show that you individually engage in stupidity rather than racism.

Once you move out of the Republican establishment on the Health Care Reform debate you find a tremendous amount of congruence with the Teabaggers, including the fierce anger and stupid protest signs. Look to who winds up the wingers, Limbaugh and Beck and others all of whom have beaten the racism drum with great enthusiasm. These folks have gone beyond dog whistling to blasting fire sirens. The socialism mantra is somehow morphed into Marxism, Leninism, and Hitlerian fascism despite none of them having any congruence beyond their images played to the willing.

This is the key to understanding that little of this fury is about ideology, the images and rhetoric are fact free and logically unrelated to anything historically recognizable. It takes a willingness to be deluded to be stirred to this level of anger. You have to try pretty hard to get to a point where someone as innocuous as President Obama is comparable to Hitler and other assorted very bad totalitarians. This of course doesn't address pictures of the President as a witch doctor or a demented Joker.

The Electoral College roll-over that happened during the election masks something, the Confederate white vote and the national white margin McCain won. That a young black guy beat an old white POW would be astonishing if the McCain campaign hadn't absolutely sucked eggs. What they did do, with the able assistance of Sarah Palin was plant rather deeply the seeds of 'otherness' in regard to Obama. This wasn't some political accident, it was quite deliberate and its meanness coupled with disgust for BushCo and the plutocratic economic meltdown meant enough people were unhappy with it. But enough people to roll up Electoral College numbers don't make a huge majority, they make a 53-47 majority which means a whole lot of people didn't vote for the black guy - anyhow. There certainly was an ideological base that saw a centrist Democrat as unacceptable versus any Republican candidate, and it may have been a majority of that vote, but that still leaves a very large number - a number that would be very noisy in the face of a black President.

Racism has a range from a largely unexpressed discomfort with those of another race to vocal and violent resistance to any advances by another race. The uncomfortable folks are ordinarily pretty quiet, they operate at a repressed level. The flat out racists aren't quiet, and if they are given some kind of cover excuse they'll shout to the roof tops. The cue is whether that shouting makes any sense at all or is so terminally stupid as to defy life signs on a monitor. Ideologically driven people will generally make statements that contain some resemblance to reality, it may ignore some facts or put really strange spins on the ones it recognizes but it will not be some alternate universe version of Earth, it will contain some sort of reasoning - perhaps based on faith in some generally accepted canard (see trickle down economics). It will also have been pretty generally applied to the 'liberals.' Many bed rock conservatives are quite aware of what Nazism and Leninism imply and simply walk away from such talk, not so those with something other than ideological hobby horses to ride - they find no appellation too extreme to hang on Obama.

It is probably pointless to try to shame them with the racist label, only a very few will publicly revel in that role. Merciless mockery of their batshit craziness is the most potent tool. The Joe Wilsons of the political arena make easy targets for something other than hot rhetoric, laughing and pointing at the man with his pants on his head is more effective. I like the label Confederate Party of Republicanism because it holds sufficient demographic truth to sting and winds in the strings of racism, secessionism, and hatred of the federal government and seed of hickness. It is possible that the ideologues will be shamed by association with such - but then, they've had quite a bit to be ashamed of over the past few decades and seem to persevere...


realbtl said...

Chuck- While I agree that racism is a big issue here I think there is more going on. From Wiki:
Under one view, an important factor is coercive persuasion which suppresses the ability of people to reason, think critically, and make choices in their own best interest.
Studies of religious, political, and other cults have identified a number of key steps in this type of coercive persuasion:
1. People are put in physically or emotionally distressing situations;
2. Their problems are reduced to one simple explanation, which is repeatedly emphasized;
3. They receive unconditional love, acceptance, and attention from a charismatic leader;
4, They get a new identity based on the group;
5.They are subject to entrapment (isolation from friends, relatives, and the mainstream culture) and their access to information is severely controlled.

I believe the R's, or at least the Southern and teabag portion, have become a cult.

Zak Johnson said...

Interesting perspective, realbtl. I'll think on that.

I think much of the willingness to be led down the garden path comes from what Chuck so well describes, along with tacit or direct encouragement by those on the Right who know better but who take allies where they find them in the quest for raw power. That's what the debates I've seen on health care have boiled down to: power, not policy.

As in any cult, you'll notice the leaders rarely strap on the suicide vests or man the kamikazes. Too busy leading, I suppose.