In November voters will face a choice. It is not a Republican vs Democratic choice or even a liberal vs conservative choice.
It is a bit more primal than that.
In November we face a choice between the Confederate Party and modernity.
All around the globe we face a battle with reactionary forces that seek to pull society back to some imagined fantasy time that they define as “better”. Most of the time these Dark Ages Disciples wrap their lunacy in some cultish religious rhetoric that Jesus, Allah, Yahweh, Zoroaster, Indra or whoever blesses and mandates their insanity. But religious ideology is not the only meme these wackos embrace. Nationalism and political myths also motivate. And often the Nationalist myths are woven tightly with the religious myth into one big twisted blob of hate and madness. This fantasy world view animates and drive al-Qaeda and here in America it animates the Confederate Party.
The Confederate Party grew out of the Confederacy and their defeat in the Civil War. It is easier to split an atom with a butter knife than it is to separate the Confederacy from racism. Reconstruction almost killed the Confederacy, but it found a host in the Democratic Party. For decades, it was the Democrats–especially those from the South–who kept the goals of the Confederacy alive. Over time the Confederacy lost their grip on the Democratic Party and when LBJ passed Civil Rights and Voting Rights Legislation, the spirit of the Confederacy went looking for a new political host. For a time this racist ideology found a home with the third party efforts of George Wallace, but it was Richard Nixon who thought he could invite this ideology of hate into the Republican Party and control it. He was wrong.
Now the Confederacy controls Nixon’s Party so completely that they would kick Dick out for being a squish. Reagan would get the boot as well.
Today the Confederacy Party wears different Party labels like finely embroidered sheets that glide in the moonlight. The Republican Party is a brand they control, but in the wake of George W. Bush it was a damaged brand. So the Confederate Party did some marketing and came up with yet another name and yet another mask: The Tea Party.
Racism and xenophobia are the core organizing tools, along with old chestnuts like ‘states rights’ and fear of ‘big government’. Appeals to selfishness are also key, but it is quiet racism and fear that holds the blob of hate together. Without racism and fear they have nothing.
That is why the a simple call from the NAACP to condemn racist behavior sent the movement into fits of hysterics. And it is why their almost universal response was to attack the NAACP for pointing out the movement’s tolerance for racism. And that is why the Confederate Party and their leaders responded with fresh examples of racism.
Some were skilled in their response like TeaBagger/Republican movement leader Sarah Palin who used racist dogwhistles to mock the NAACP, others like Tea Party Express leader Mark Williams decided it was just fine to go all in. He published a imagined letter from the NAACP to President Lincoln that was take-your-breath-away blatantly racist. As the heat began to build Williams responded by calling the NAACP a racist organization and then he took down his letter and pretended like it was all good.
It is not.
Mark Williams is a racist and he is a leader of the Tea Party movement. If that movement continues to tolerate him, then it is more than fair to call the Tea Party movement what it is: an organization that embraces racism to achieve their political goals. This is not really a surprise as the Tea Party is just another iteration of the Confederate Party.
Color of Change is an organization that is working to increase the voice of African Americans in American Politics. They are a relatively new group on the scene, but like the 101 year-old NAACP they know racism when they see it. And the blatant racism of Mark Williams has made them shrill. They are asking folks to sign a petition demanding that the Tea Party movement cut all ties with Williams. Here is the text:
Dear Tea Party leaders,
This week, the NAACP called on the Tea Party movement to reject the racist elements that exist among its ranks. Sadly, instead of taking any responsibility for putting a stop to the bigoted, hateful rhetoric and imagery that has repeatedly surfaced in the Tea Party movement, one of your movement’s most prominent leaders responded by attacking the NAACP with a barrage of offensive racial stereotypes.
This week, Mark Williams, the public face of Tea Party Express, called the NAACP a racist organization and said “They make more money off of race than any slave trader, ever.” He went on to publish a blog post which implied that Black people don’t like to work or think for themselves, that they depend on welfare, and that they want to benefit from White peoples’ tax dollars so they can have a widescreen TV in every room.
If as Tea Party leaders you wish to have any credibility when you claim that racism is not a welcome, integral part of your movement, you must act decisively to reject people like Mark Williams. I’m calling on you to denounce Williams’ bigoted rhetoric about the NAACP, and to demand he resign from his position at Tea Party Express and stop representing himself as a spokesman for the Tea Party movement.
Like the NAACP the young folks at Color of Change are also shrill. I feel like being shrill with them so I’ve signed their petition. You can too if you wish.
Mark Williams is a slicker racist than David Duke–who was pretty slick. The only difference between the two is that Duke has always been honest about his views while Willaims is not.
And because of all of that Mark Williams is on a fast track to a sweet gig as a paid teevee commentator on FOX, CNN and MSNBC. Hell, CNN may already be in negotiations with him for their troubled 8pm slot. And I know asking the TeaBaggers to kick him out is like asking processed rice to kick out white.
Still, it is worth the effort. When the Tea Party, the Republican Party and the conservative movement continues to embrace Williams then we will all know that it is the Confederate Party that call the shots in these groups and the face of hate behind the mask will get a small flash of sunlight. That will be a good thing and it will help to make the stakes at the ballot box clear.
We have a choice in November between moving forward or moving back to 1852. And while that is not as far back as the Middle Ages it was and is a Dark Age as far as justice in America is concerned.
I think the lesson of the NAACP action is that more of us need to be shrill.