The ‘Racist’ Tea Party

by Jay Nordlinger

Many times, I have written about people who say things that aren’t so, but ought to be so — ought to be so, according to their worldview, or prejudices. Take that now-infamous NPR exec (please). Talking about the Tea Party, he said, “They’re seriously racist, racist people.”

As I write in my column today, the Tea Party is not just racist, but racist, racist. If they continue to grow in numbers and influence, will they be racist, racist, racist? Do I hear four? Surely NPR can do better than two.

I suspect that the man thinks the Tea Party ought to be racist, even if they’re not. Some people learn, right early, that conservatism and racism are mingled. That where you find one, you find the other. I had this with my mother’s milk. When I grew up, of course, I spit it out: because I got acquainted with the world more broadly.

#more#The Tea Party is at least as hostile to Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, and other such palefaces as it is to President Obama. And what do you do about black Tea Partiers? What do you do about, for example, Colonel-Congressman Allen West? You just ignore him, I guess, if you’re determined to paint the Tea Party as racist.

In fact, let me quote from a piece I did on West in May 2010:

And what about a black man from inner-city Atlanta running on the Gold Coast [of Florida]? “Race is not a factor now,” says West. “People are looking for three things more than anything else: honor, integrity, and character. Dr. King spoke about the content of character rather than the color of skin. And we see right now that the Left is trying to use race as a means to suppress honest criticism of government.” He means, of course, that tea partiers and other Obama critics are broadly painted as racist. 

I liked that so much, I want to quote again, from that piece — indulge me:

And what about this broad depiction of the tea-party movement as racist? West recalls Saul Alinsky’s “Rules for Radicals,” one of which is that you “pick a target, freeze it, personalize it,” etc. “The Left just wants to demonize the tea-party movement,” to rule it out of bounds. “They’re scared — the Left is scared. That’s all they’re showing.” West himself is a popular speaker at South Florida tea parties — “and I think they can see I’m black.”

Yeah, I think they can. (By the way, in that ancient era, we were — at least I was — lower-casing “tea party.” We are now upper-casing it, some of us are.)

Here is something to bear in mind about the Tea Partiers’ harshest critics: They don’t know any Tea Partiers (is my impression). I know a lot of them. That makes it hard to have ignorant views of them.

Several days ago, I had reason to look into what people said after 9/11. And there was a thirst, on the part of some, to see the attacks as “the revenge of the poor on the rich.” That’s what Günter Grass, the Nobel literature laureate, said: “the revenge of the poor on the rich.” Dr. Bernard Lown, whose anti-nuclear group won the Nobel peace prize, spoke in the same tones. He said, among other things, “Is it possible for affluent nations to purchase security when the deprived and hungry multitudes are clamoring outside the gates of the big house?”

(Lown’s group was, and is, Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War — a very sorry outfit. Lown’s co-founder, Dr. Evgeny Chazov, was a member of the Central Committee of the Soviet Communist Party, and a signer of the document judged to have launched the official campaign against Andrei Sakharov.)

The truth was, bin Laden and his boys had plenty of dough. But a certain worldview, a certain mindset, said that 9/11 ought to have been a matter of rich versus poor.

Anyway, you just can’t shake people from the belief that the Tea Party is racist. At least, it is very hard. I’m sure there are racists among the Tea Partiers. I’m sure there are racists in every human group. I think that Tea Party critics and defamers — I think that we all — need to get out more. Has that NPR exec ever met a Tea Partier? Couldn’t he stroll over to the Senate and talk to, for example, Ron Johnson, the new member from Wisconsin?

I could grumble on, but you get the point, amply.

P.S. Remember when Charlie Rangel called tax cuts “racist”? What can you do?

P.P.S. Here is a rule: A lot of people on the left regard that which they don’t like as racist. Period. If you don’t like the Tea Party, see it as racist, call it racist. If you don’t like Brussels sprouts, call them racist. You know what I mean? Have you observed this horrible phenomenon in action?

And when something is really racist — you have no word to describe it, because you have divorced “racist” from reality.