Conspiracy Theories

Four Things I Learned About Racism From My Co-Panelists on Air America Last Night

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Racist

1) The Tea Parties are experienced by many black Americans as a "racial assault." This was posited by a white "anti-racism writer," though the black Tea Party organizer on the panel didn't seem to agree.

2) The "Don't Tread on Me" flag, historically, is inseparable from white racial resentment against blacks.

3) My pointing out that the racial-motivation interpretation of the protest was not manifested in the overwhelming majority of signage I saw and conversations I had was directly analogous to white Americans believing that race relations were just fine 50 years ago.

4) Glenn Beck has described Obama's health care plan as intentional "reparations" for slavery.

This last bit, at the least, is true…and retarded.

Racists? I HATE racists!

My last word was that if the Tea Party movement is significantly animated by racism or appeals to white racial resentment, we will certainly find out about it, and it will lose whatever popularity it has now, because racism in this country is genuinely unpopular. And by the same token, if the Great Klan Hunt fails to turn up more than just a fringe scattering of kooks, it may be time for some on the Air America left to begin considering that limited government sentiment is not automatically a form of sublimated racism.

My two cents is that if Glenn Beck emerges as the leader of this thing (and he could make an arguable claim right now), then there will be a hard cap on growth of its popularity, and a flourishing cottage industry of Beck-monitoring that will turn up daily outrages to feed the evil/stupid/insane/racist narrative. This will be great for Glenn Beck; for the rest of the new protest kids, maybe not so much.

For more on ahistorical anti-president hyperbole, read Michael C. Moynihan's blog post from last night; also, see my previous column on "The Race War That Isn't."