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The latest racially charged rhetorical spat

September 8, 2011

Rep. Andre Carson: Tea Partiers in Congress Want to See Blacks “Hanging on a Tree”

http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/ticket/rep-andr%C3%A9-carson-tea-party-members-congress-want-142624474.html

It seems to be a severe lack of tact. The same with other leaders, such as Sharpton, Jackson, the NAACP, etc. The conservatives usually retort that these people are just trying to maintain their relevance in the modern political landscape, and I find I have to largely agree with them.

The problem starts, because people sense some questionable motives in the whole conservative movement, now most embodied in the Tea Party. The problem I have seen over the last 30 years is a tendency to blame (subtly or sometimes not so subtly) minorities for high taxes, supposedly for “welfare” programs. Like Reagan’s “you’re on line and someone walks ahead of you and buys steaks with food stamps while you struggle” or “Chicken Little” rhetoric.

While it may have been abused a lot, it still was never the percentage of taxes people made it out to be, and even more than that, 15 years ago, it was reformed, when AFDC became TANF, and the number of recipients dropped to a quarter of what it was. Complaints about “welfare spending” subsided a bit, but still surface during presidential elections, or any time people want to complain about spending and taxes.

Also, there’s blame for other stuff like crime, and the War on Drugs (started by Reagan), which is seen as discriminatory.

It seems the people who purport to defend against racism have been completely silent on stuff like this, while pointing out ‘racism’ in everything else. Like the uproar over the Mexican president claiming blacks don’t want the jobs that Mexican immigrants take. Not nearly as offensive (or untrue) as some of the other stuff coming out of the conservative media (“lazy grasshoppers”, etc), yet that is what was sharply condemned.

So I would say that if this person and others are addressing a particular concern regarding the Tea Party, (like if they feel they’re still wrongly blaming minorities for things), then they should more clearly specify the concern.

Generalistic statements like this are never understood, and only fuel the counter-rhetoric of those who are on the defensive against such charges. (Like that people are just “whining” about the past, and perhaps using an illegitimate cause to manipulate guilt, and to perhaps gain programs, or votes they really shouldn’t have! See how it gets turned back around to support the initial rhetoric?)
So tell us what exactly the party is doing that makes you say that.

In the link, I do see the statements:

The comments were “prompted in response to frustration voiced by many in Miami and in his home district in Indianapolis regarding Congress’ inability to bolster the economy,” Jason Tomcsi, a Carson spokesman, said in a statement issued to news outlets. “The Tea Party is protecting its millionaire and oil company friends while gutting critical services that they know protect the livelihood of African-Americans, as well as Latinos and other disadvantaged minorities. We are talking about child nutrition, job creation, job training, housing assistance, and Head Start, and that is just the beginning. A child without basic nutrition, secure housing, and quality education has no real chance at a meaningful and productive life.”

Tomcsi continued, stating that “yes, the congressman used strong language because the Tea Party agenda jeopardizes our most vulnerable and leaves them without the ability to improve their economic standing

Still, their language is way too strong to be justified by that. It’s basically greatly overboard hypebole, which again, is too prone to misunderstanding. Both people who do genuinely have racist sentiments, and even those who don’t, will only have their feelings of guilt stoked, and react defensively, and the former will only lash back, while the latter might become tired of feeling accused and also eventually lash back.

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