February 25, 2010
Last week Keith Olberman (host of MSNBC’s TV show Countdown) caused a controversy when he called the Tea Party movement racist because they are a mostly white movement and many of their members use a lot of language filled with hate. He went on to challenge people to review video footage and photos from the Tea Party’s events to prove his point.
Those in the Tea Party movement and others on the conservative side of the political spectrum went apoplectic because of Olberman’s charges. Part of the reason for the reaction was that Olberman is an admitted liberal. He doesn’t try to hide his liberal bias on his TV show.
I want to bring some sanity to this debate. I don’t agree with a lot of the things Olberman has to say or some of his antics, but because he is considered an ultra liberal should not take away from the truth of what he said in this matter. Don’t shoot the messenger.
It is true, the Tea Party, like the Republican Party and the conservative movement, are white movements. So, the Tea Party of Dallas, TX made matters worse by parading a few minorities in front of the camera, as if to disprove the charge by showing their few tokens.
Conservative ideologues couldn’t wait to pounce on Olberman’s statement, though they could offer no evidence to prove the inaccuracy of his assertion. As I often tell people, “Weak people take strong positions on weak issues.”
The Bible states in Romans 14:16: “Let not your good be evil spoken of.” There are very legitimate grounds on which to criticize President Obama and the Democratic Congress, but the language coming out of the Tea Party is appalling. They seem to be extremely fixated with the language of violence and insensitivity.
During last week’s Conservative Political Action Conference (C-PAC), speakers made jokes about the terrorist who flew his plane into the Internal Revenue Service (I.R.S.) building in Austin, TX (Jed Babbin, publisher of the Human Events Newspaper); political commentator, Ann Coulter, made distasteful jokes about the death of Sen. Edward Kennedy; Minnesota governor, Tim Pawlenty urged the audience to take a 9 iron and smash the windows of big government (a reference to Tiger Woods’ wife).
Not one person had the courage to speak out against such vile language. The Tea Party’s issues are legitimate, but their approach is very mean spirited and in a lot of cases just plain racist! This is the very reason why they can’t draw a diverse crowd to any of their events, nor get any Blacks in their leadership. You can always find a few Black apologists who will provide cover for the whites who are filled with all manner of hate (“we want our country back”, “take your hands off my country,” or “he’s a socialist”). Let not your good be evil spoken of.
The tragedy behind the lack of diversity within the Tea Party and the Republican Party is that they both are totally blind to the issue. They are either color blind or just blind to people of color. The lack of diversity is so obvious that even Stevie Wonder can see it! Somehow, they have turned diversity into a four letter word.
In case they hadn’t noticed, there are not enough white voters on the Republican side to win a national election. In order for a Republican to win a national election, he must be able to get the support of those in the Black and Hispanic communities. So, it doesn’t matter whether you believe in diversity or not; the reality is that without it, you won’t be winning many elections as we go into the future.
This is at the heart of the Tea Party movement. The demographics of this country is making America unrecognizable to these people. They want to go back to the days of old, that’s why they are called conservative—they want to conserve how it “used” to be. They view diversity and change as negative, as opposed to something that should and must be embraced.
The diversity train has already left the station. Either get on board or get run over. But, what I see and hear coming out of the Tea Party, is not my cup of tea!
Raynard Jackson is president & CEO of Raynard Jackson & Associates, LLC., a D.C.-public relations/government affairs firm. He is also a contributing editor for ExcellStyle Magazine (www.excellstyle.com).