Today’s Washington Post has an article titled “Tea party groups battling perceptions of racism.” A Post poll shows that 61 percent of opponents of the tea-party movement believe “racism has a lot to do with the movement.”
Now, where in the world could that perception have come from?
Could it have come from Michael Bloomberg, who opined that the person who planted the bomb in Times Square may have been motivated by opposition to health-care reform? Or perhaps from certain members of the Congressional Black Caucus, who asserted that tea partiers shouted racial slurs at them? Could it have come from the scores of politicians who pronounce supporters of the Arizona illegal immigration law bigots? Or how about Janet Napolitano, who issued an intelligence assessment claiming that returning veterans and persons concerned about abortion and illegal immigration posed terror threats?
Is it at all possible that the perception is a function of the media’s uncritical reporting of these allegations? Has anyone in the media thought to ask whether the president — you know, that racially transcendent guy quick to scold talk-radio hosts for irresponsible rhetoric and who thinks that a sizeable segment of the country he governs consists of bitter, racist, xenophobic religious nuts — has any plans to admonish those of his political allies who malign tea partiers to tone it down just a bit?
Don’t hold your breath. The accusation of racism, once a substantive charge of moral corruption, is increasingly a facile tool of political cynicism.