“the race-baiting and hate-mongering discourse of tea parties” (from the 9 Feb. post, what was habeas corpus?).
Right, let’s quickly document and register this, for readers real and imagined who happily may not be so exposed to the current grotesqueries of the US political mediascape. (Those for whom it’s all too familiar and dismal can skip this one...)
Background: the so-called tea party movement names itself after the Boston Tea Party, that lauded episode of direct action property destruction from the American anti-colonial struggle against the British. The fabled anti-tax riot was organized by merchants and carried out by sailors and dockhands masquerading as “Indians.”
As the image makes clear, the action plays ambiguously on clichés of native wildness and violence. Aboriginal features, donned as disguise, are used as masking cover for the real agents of riot.
But in this covert action, the instrumentalizing appropriation of the other’s cultural markers denies to the indigenous who are mimicked any standing of their own, as autonomous ends-in-themselves: performance reflects the logic and reality of primitive accumulation – actual processes of violent seizure and genocidal displacement.
Whatever its anti-colonial valencies, then, this particular party also evinces the racism of occupiers who, reorganized as sovereign nation, would soon claim for themselves special divine blessing and “Manifest Destiny.”
(The fetishization of founding, a constant of aggressive American exceptionalism.)
Today the ranks of tea baggers seem to converge suspiciously with the regular spectators of Glenn Beck & Co. at Fox News. In any case, the appearance of the movement last year, in the form of numerous local micro-demos of angry citizens, was extensively promoted and “covered” by Beck and others on Fox, who hailed it as a “new American Revolution.”
Their issues: big government, government spending (taxes), the bailouts ("free markets") and family values. Their unifying hate object: Barack Obama.
They call themselves “independents,” meaning, don’t take a Republican vote for granted. Some like McCain, others hate him. Some like Palin, others hate her. Some claim to have voted for Obama, but now hate him.
They’re busy and they’re organized. (Take note!!)
In the process of defining itself, still riven by internal disputes and contradictory positions, the movement of tea sippers just had its first “National Convention” in Nashville.
How many are they, then, really? We’ll all be finding out. For what it’s worth, the New York Times reported that during the recent election upset in Massachusetts, attributed to tea party power, more that 6 million people watched it on Fox, while at the same time CNN and MSNBC only attracted a bit more than a million each.
Their stance is ultra-middle class, but how grassroots are they, really? Organizers claim 600 people paid $549 to attend the convention (keynote speaker Sarah Palin; speaker’s fee reportedly $100,000.) Behind the scenes: a new legal entity called the Ensuring Liberty Corporation.
Do we really have to take this seriously? Isn’t it just a joke?
Expresso, please, and make it a double. This is real, it’s organizing and it’s already a demonstrated and mediatized material force, producing effects and impacting national discourse and policy.
Proof: Obama’s “spending freeze” (war machine exempted, of course) is a doomed attempt to appease them.
For these people are not likely to be appeased, and anyone who tries to conciliate them will be eaten alive.
Now for the crux:
Nashville, Tennessee (CNN) 6 February 2010:
The organizer of the Tea Party Convention says he agrees with Tom Tancredo's description of President Obama as a socialist.
The former congressman from Colorado and 2008 Republican presidential candidate blasted Obama, saying “people who could not even spell the word ‘vote,’ or say it in English, put a committed socialist ideologue in the White House. His name is Barack Hussein Obama.”
Tancredo made his comments Thursday night as he gave the kickoff speech for the convention, which is being held at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel and Convention Center in Nashville.
That good old American perennial, then: racism plus anti-communism, in gaudy new Sunday dress.
But Obama clearly is no socialist.
Conclusion: this is an organized apparatus for scapegoating attacks – a crude form of would-be lynching.
Sadly, for the record.
Now, cui bono?