You may or may not know it, but if you participated in one of the tea party rallies held nationwide over the last year, you’re a bigot. Why? A black man is president and any criticism of him must be rooted in racism, even though you as lawful protestor might not realize it.
It’s not a new charge, but MSNBC “Countdown” host Keith Olbermann doesn't mind repeating it. He made it the centerpiece of a long-winded attack on the tea party movement during the number one story of his Feb. 15 broadcast. Olbermann took his first shot by using anecdotal evidence – misguided comments from one individual at a single event and applied them to the entire movement.
“[I]t has become fashionable, sometimes psychologically necessary that when some of us express it, we have to put it in code or dress it up or provide a rationalization to ourselves for it,” Olbermann said. “That this has nothing to do with race or prejudice, the man’s a socialist and he’s bent on destroying the country and he was only elected by people who can’t speak English. Or was it he was only elected by guilty whites?”
Although many have articulated why the tea party movement is important and have expressed concerns over the direction the federal government is pushing the country what it means for the futute, Olbermann asserted that since nothing significant has changed in people’s lives to date, the outcry is without merit.
“The rationalizations of the racist are too many and too contradictory for the rest of us to keep them straight,” Olbermann continued. “The whole of the anger at government movement is predicated on this. Times are tough. The future is confusing. The threat from those who would dismantle our way of life is real, as if we weren’t, to some extent, doing it for them now. And the president is black, but you can’t come out and say that’s why you’re scared. Say that and in all but the lifeless fringes of our society, you are an outcast. So this is where the euphemisms come in. Your taxes haven’t gone up. The budget deficit is from the last administration’s adventurous war. Grandma is much more likely to be death paneled by your insurance company. And a socialist president would be the one who tried to buy as many voters as possible with stupid tax cuts.”
A couple of times during Olbermann’s rant, he reminded his viewers that he was a white man and that made him qualified to label the movement as racist and thus gave him justification to use “incendiary” language to describe any anti-Obama protest.
“But facts don’t matter when you’re looking for an excuse to say you hate this president, but not because he’s black,” Olbermann said. “Anything you can say out loud without your family and friends bursting into laughter at you will do. And this is where those Tea Parties come in. I know I’ve taken a lot of heat for emphasizing a particular phrase, which originated at a FreeRepublic.com rally a year ago this month, originated with a Tea Partier. And I know phrases like ‘Tea Klux Klan’ are incendiary and I know I use them in part because I’m angry.”
Olbermann’s racism charge is predicated on his assertion that there is a lack of diversity within these protests. And although this is one of the most serious charges one can level at an opponent, Olbermann didn’t make clear whether the assessment is based on personal experience attending a Tea Party rally, or if he is just relying on the scattered and one-sided footage MSNBC compiled.
“But at so late a date we still have to bat back that racial uneasiness which has to envelope us all. And I know if I could only listen to
If you apply Olbermann’s standard and use scattered anecdotal evidence to level a serious charge like racism, you can legitimately claim that thee are racists on the president’s side. Kenneth Gladney, a black man, was allegedly beat up at a town hall by SEIU members back in August, as the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported on Aug. 7.
“Kenneth Gladney, 38, a conservative activist from
But such incidents are inconvenient for Olbermann, who concluded that Tea Party protesters are willing sheep that have failed to look at what they’re doing introspectively.
“Look at who is leading you and why, and look past the blustery self- justifications and see the fear, this unspoken, inchoate, unnecessary fear of those who are different,” Olbermann continued. “If you believe there is merit to your political argument, fine. But ask yourself when you next go to a Tea Party rally or watch one on television or listen to a politician or a commentator praise these things or merely treat them as if it was just a coincidence that they are virtually segregated, ask yourself, where are the black faces? Who am I marching with? What are we afraid of? And if it really is only a president’s policy and not his skin, ask yourself one final question. Why are you surrounded by the largest crowd you will ever again see in your life that consists of nothing but people who look exactly like you.”