Screenshot from texasteaparties.com
One theme we've been hearing over and over at the recent tea parties is that they've been spending a lot of time on the defensive, gazing at their belly buttons and saying, hey, that belly button isn't really racist, is it? This is hilarious because they're devoting much of their rallies now to talking about themselves and their "portrayal" in the media, rather than about their nebulous causes. And they fall effortlessly into the standard contemporary Right Wing trope: racism itself is never a problem, really no big deal and not worth pondering, but being accused of racism is a terrible crime which must be battled ferociously.
This also reminds me of a certain kind of behavior I've seen for many years on forums and message boards where a clueless person will post something along the lines of "I don't mean this in a racist way, but...*" and then proceed to say something totally, well, racist, as if the first part of the sentence somehow mitigates the rest.
Charles M. Blow had an excellent Op-Ed at the New York Times yesterday, and he really nails this phenomenon, wherein a Texas tea party's attempt to show diversity goes hilariously awry, and nobody even realizes what's going on:
At first I thought, “Wow! This is much more diverse than the rallies I’ve seen on television.”
Then I realized that I was looking at stadium workers. I should have figured as much when I approached the gate. The greeter had asked, “Are you working tonight?”
I had specifically come to this rally because it was supposed to be especially diverse. And, on the stage at least, it was. The speakers included a black doctor who bashed Democrats for crying racism, a Hispanic immigrant who said that she had never received a single government entitlement and a Vietnamese immigrant who said that the Tea Party leader was God. It felt like a bizarre spoof of a 1980s Benetton ad.
I found the imagery surreal and a bit sad: the minorities trying desperately to prove that they were “one of the good ones”; the organizers trying desperately to resolve any racial guilt among the crowd. The message was clear: How could we be intolerant if these multicolored faces feel the same way we do?
Thursday night I saw a political minstrel show devised for the entertainment of those on the rim of obliviousness and for those engaged in the subterfuge of intolerance. I was not amused.
UPDATE - Here, via Geekette70's photostream at Flickr, is a photo from the very same event attended by Blow:
And what, I ask you, is implied by the young man's "Join or Die" t-shirt?
*Seriously, click that link and crack the fuck up.