Wednesday, November 30, 2011


Getting a Pound of Lie Out of an Ounce of Truth

Recent UVA grad Jamelle Bouie has a piece at the Nation called The Tea Parties (sic) Distant Cousin. He thinks that the 20th Century version of the Ku Klux Klan is the cousin.

Here is his partial nod at true history:

Any honest historian will readily acknowledge the extent to which the Klan was entwined with the Democratic politicians in the early part of the twentieth century. Although both parties had largely abandoned civil rights by the beginning of the twentieth century, it’s fair to say that up until the 1940s, the Democratic Party was the unambiguous party of white supremacy in the United States, particularly in the South.

Not just during the 20th Century but from its inception Klan members were as universally Democrats as they were white. And wait, wait a minute--through the 1940s? To what party did the Senator and Governor segregationists in the 50s and 60's--Al Gore, Sr., William Fulbright, Orval Faubus, George Wallace, etc.--belong? Not a soul was a Republican. Who voted as a block in '64 to defeat the Civil Rights Act of that year? Well, that would be the southern Democrats again. Even when Bouie's admitting the truth, he's not telling the truth.

Here is his thesis of the relationship of the Tea Party with the Klan:

And while the Tea Party isn’t an anti-black terrorist group, it’s hard to deny the extent to which the movement is motivated by the same constellation of reactionary forces...—conservative Christianity, nativism, white populism, hyper-patriotism and racial prejudice...
Is that the complete list of what motivates the Tea Party? Are those its raison d'être? Populist? The Tea Party? What regarding its desire for less government is populist? Little off the mark there.

And here's his so-called proof:

According to a recent survey from the Public Religion Research Institute, 47 percent of Americans who identify with the Tea Party movement also identify with the religious right, and 75 percent of those who identify with the Tea Party label themselves Christian conservatives. Tea Partiers are overwhelmingly white, more likely to see immigration as a problem, and more likely to harbor racial resentment toward African-Americans.

OK, let's take this one at a time.

100% of the Klan's members were humans and 100% of the Tea Party members are human. QED, man. They are clearly the same. That's as valid as Bouie's reasoning.

America is overwhelmingly a Christian nation. Most members of the every political party are Christian. Most of the African-Americans are Christian. That certainly doesn't mean that the Klan is a distant cousin to them, does it? This conjunction of religious and political belief is a meaningless correlation. The anti-Klan forces were overwhelmingly Christian too and a majority Republican, as well.

The members of both the ever more irrelevant OWS and the Tea Party are nearly all persons of pallor. But most Americans are white. And most African-Americans are Democrats, while most Tea Party members are Republicans. What does a concentration of the majority race in any particular group have to do with an alleged lineal tie to the KKK, albeit distantly? I say nothing, but then I don't see everything in America as a result of racial antipathy.

Bouie conveniently leaves out a word regarding the Tea Party's so-called problem with immigration. Can you guess it? Illegal immigration. The only questions asked about immigration in the link he gives are about illegal immigration. This is common practice on the left but none the less a serious lie of omission. Being against illegal immigration is not nativism and to imply it, as Mr. Bouie clearly has, is a calumny. He should be ashamed of himself.

It gets worse, however, regarding the so-called racial prejudice the Tea Party harbors. What's the proof of that (its members' overwhelming support for Herman Cain?--nah, that can't be it)? First let me ask, what is 'racial resentment'? Is it the same as 'racial prejudice'? Is it the same as the straight-up racial hatred of the Klan, or is it some distant cousin of that murderous hatred? At the link the so-called support for a charge of racial animus of some degree is very tenuous.

Regarding what the study's authors call racial stereotypes, questions were asked about blacks' and hispanics' work ethic, intelligence and trustworthiness, but the only answers possible were, for example, somewhat hard working, very hard working and extremely hard working. The allowed answers were only good opinions of the entire group's work ethic, etc. There was no answer allowed for having no opinion; none allowed for thinking the question was worthless or thinking blacks were not hard working, for that matter. What if you felt that some African-Americans are extremely hard working, some very hard working, some somewhat hard working, some not that hard working and some not hard working at all, that is, you thought there was no one-size-fits-all answer about all of the members of the group? What if you thought, rather, there was a range within the group and so you didn't pick any of the slanted answers (as did at least some of 65% of the "true believer" Tea Party members who did not put any of the three allowed answers)? What happened then? Well the survey takers said that "only 35% believe Blacks to be hardworking." Mother of God. Thinking the question is bullshit because there is no valid racial stereotype for all blacks regarding a work ethic is counted the same as thinking all blacks are not hard working. This is the worst sort of slanted polling. A complete disgrace. It measures racial antipathy as a thermometer measures wind direction.

Here are the racial antipathy questions: 1) Irish, Italians, Jewish, and many other minorities overcame prejudice and worked their way up. Blacks should do the same without special favors.
2) Generations of slavery and discrimination have created conditions that make it difficult for blacks to work their way out of the lower class. 3) Over the past few years blacks have gotten less than they deserve. and 4) It’s really a matter of some people not trying hard enough; if blacks would only try harder they could be just as well off as whites.

The Tea Party members agreed or disagreed with these statements more than opponents of the Tea Party. OK, but how does that conflict of vision and sense of history equal racial animus? It doesn't. Calling principled differences in attitude "racial resentment" tells us more about the people formulating these questions and analyzing the answers than it does about the Tea Party.

As I said: Shame on you Mr. Bouie. Shame on you.


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