Lance Baxter is a media pro who knows that revenge is a dish best mixed on the fly and served up at 30 frames per second. Baxter (aka D.C. Douglas) is the Geico voiceover announcer whose identity and phone number were posted by a wingnut blogger after Baxter left an acidic message on the answering machine for Dick Armey’s FreedomWorks, a “Tea Party” astroturfing/agenda-hijacking front organization for Mainstream Country Club Conservatism.
Angry ‘Baggers subsequently swarmed Baxter’s home answering machine, and Geico “fired” him from a campaign that ended over a year ago. However, you can’t keep a good writer/producer/director/editor/actor down, and Baxter has responded by uploading his delightful “Tea Bagger Boogie” to YouTube. It’s a fond look back at the moments that mattered, from a movement that didn’t.
Imagination can be a great thing. It has spawned much of our best literature, been the catalyst for much of our scientific advances, and given us such bulwarks of society as religion, education, art, music, and so much more. With a tip of the hat to the value of imagination in what and how we think, I would like to propose a simple little exercise.
We will imagine recent happenings in the news, but then change a tiny detail about them. Instead of envisioning white people as the main actors in the scenes , we’ll envision black folks or other people of color instead. We will then imagine the public reaction to the events or incidents.
Imagine, then, that hundreds of black protesters were to descend upon Washington DC and Northern Virginia, just a few miles from the Capitol and White House, armed with assault rifles, assorted handguns, and ammunition. And imagine that some of these black protesters spoke of the need for political revolution, and possibly even armed conflict in the event that laws they didn’t like were enforced by the government? Would these black protesters with guns be seen as brave defenders of the Second Amendment, or would they be viewed by most whites as a danger to the republic? What if they were Arab-Americans? Because, after all, that’s exactly what happened recently when white gun enthusiasts descended upon the nation’s capital, arms in hand, and verbally announced their readiness to make war on the country’s political leaders if the need arose.
Imagine that white members of Congress, while walking to work, were surrounded by thousands of angry black people, one of whom proceeded to spit on one of those congressmen for not voting the way the black demonstrators desired. Imagine that these angry black people called the Congressmen, the “W” word (whitey). Would the protesters be seen as merely patriotic Americans voicing their opinions, or as an angry, potentially violent, and even insurrectionary mob? After all, this is what white Tea Party protesters did recently in Washington, spitting on a black Congressman and using the “N” word epithet against others.
Imagine that a black rap artist like 50 Cent were to say, in reference to a white president: “He’s a piece of shit and I told him to suck on my machine gun.” Because that’s exactly what white rocker Ted Nugent said recently about President Obama.
Imagine that a prominent mainstream black political commentator had long employed an overt bigot as Executive Director of his organization, and that this bigot regularly participated in black separatist conferences, and once assaulted a white person while calling them by a racial slur. When that prominent black commentator and his sister — who also works for the organization — defended the bigot as a good guy who was misunderstood and “going through a tough time in his life” would anyone accept their excuse-making? Would that commentator still have a place on a mainstream network? Because that’s what happened in the real world, when Pat Buchanan employed as Executive Director of his group, America’s Cause, a blatant racist who did the white equivalents: attending white separatist conferences and attacking a black woman while calling her the n-word.
Imagine that a black radio host were to suggest that the only way to get promoted in the administration of a white president is by “hating black people,” or that a prominent white person had only endorsed a white presidential candidate as an act of racial bonding, or blamed a white president for a fight on a school bus in which a black kid was jumped by two white kids, or said that he wouldn’t want to kill all conservatives, but rather, would like to leave just enough—“living fossils” as he called them—“so we will never forget what these people stood for.” After all, these are things that Rush Limbaugh has said, about Barack Obama’s administration, Colin Powell’s endorsement of Barack Obama, a fight on a school bus in Belleville, Illinois in which two black kids beat up a white kid, and about liberals, generally.
Imagine that a black pastor, formerly a member of the U.S. military, were to declare, as part of his opposition to a white president’s policies, that he was ready to “suit up, get my gun, go to Washington, and do what they trained me to do.” This is, after all, what white Pastor Stan Craig said recently at a Tea Party rally in Greenville, South Carolina.
Imagine a black radio talk show host gleefully predicting a revolution by people of color if the government continues to be dominated by the rich white men who have been “destroying” the country, or if said radio personality were to call Christians or Jews non-humans, or say that when it came to conservatives, the best solution would be to “hang ‘em high.” And what would happen to any congressional representative who praised that commentator for “speaking common sense” and likened his hate talk to “American values?” After all, those are among the things said by radio host and best-selling author Michael Savage, predicting white revolution in the face of multiculturalism, or said by Savage about Muslims and liberals, respectively. And it was Congressman Culbertson, from Texas, who praised Savage in that way, despite his hateful rhetoric.
Imagine a black political commentator suggesting that the only thing the guy who flew his plane into the Austin, Texas IRS building did wrong was not blowing up Fox News instead. This is, after all, what Anne Coulter said about Tim McVeigh, when she noted that his only mistake was not blowing up the New York Times.
Imagine that a popular black liberal website posted comments about the daughter of a white president, calling her “typical redneck trash,” or a “whore” whose mother entertains her by “making monkey sounds.” After all that’s comparable to what conservatives posted about Malia Obama on freerepublic.com last year, when they referred to her as “ghetto trash.”
Imagine that black protesters at a large political rally were walking around with signs calling for the lynching of their congressional enemies. Because that’s what white conservatives did last year, in reference to Democratic party leaders in Congress.
In other words, imagine that even one-third of the anger and vitriol currently being hurled at President Obama, by folks who are almost exclusively white, were being aimed, instead, at a white president, by people of color. How many whites viewing the anger, the hatred, the contempt for that white president would then wax eloquent about free speech, and the glories of democracy? And how many would be calling for further crackdowns on thuggish behavior, and investigations into the radical agendas of those same people of color?
To ask any of these questions is to answer them. Protest is only seen as fundamentally American when those who have long had the luxury of seeing themselves as prototypically American engage in it. When the dangerous and dark “other” does so, however, it isn’t viewed as normal or natural, let alone patriotic. Which is why Rush Limbaugh could say, this past week, that the Tea Parties are the first time since the Civil War that ordinary, common Americans stood up for their rights: a statement that erases the normalcy and “American-ness” of blacks in the civil rights struggle, not to mention women in the fight for suffrage and equality, working people in the fight for better working conditions, and LGBT folks as they struggle to be treated as full and equal human beings.
And this, my friends, is what white privilege is all about. The ability to threaten others, to engage in violent and incendiary rhetoric without consequence, to be viewed as patriotic and normal no matter what you do, and never to be feared and despised as people of color would be, if they tried to get away with half the shit we do, on a daily basis.
And you don’t believe that racism is present and powerful in the United States of America in this day and age? Think again.
I am an advocate of education reform, but, when district after district and school after school are cutting teachers, closing schools, and feeling severe budget crunches…how can it just be the fault of the teachers, the districts, and the schools.
Looks like this educator decided that she had enough and decided to point out the obvious to Governor Daniels and his shadow, State Superintendent of Schools, Tony Bennett. This letter is making the rounds in the school districts. I cannot concur enough with the points she makes and the conclusions that should be drawn from the letter.
Dear Superintendent Tony Bennett,
I am a special education teacher at Eastern High School in Greentown, Indiana. I am taking time out of my busy schedule to write to you today in response to your e-mail asking for input from educators across the state. It is my understanding my pay and my teaching license may very well depend on how much gain my students make on standardized tests and you, along with Governor Daniels wholeheartedly support this reform. I think it’s only fair I have the opportunity to commend you and Governor Daniels for your gains as well.
Since we all agree that circumstances and factors beyond our control have little to no impact on overall effectiveness, I think you too will be proud of the gains you have made. In fact, in many categories, you have helped Indiana lead the nation.
Indiana’s unemployment rate has increased from 5.3 % in 2004 to 10.1 % in 2009.
The amount of children in Indiana under the age of 18 living in poverty has grown from 15.7% in 2004 to 17.9 % in 2008.
Since 2004, 16,330 students have been added to the free/reduced lunch program.
In 2004, Indiana schools only had 31,956 limited English speaking students, now we have 45,885.
From 2004 to 2006, Indiana gained 54,267 more individuals receiving food stamp assistance.
Since 2004, the percent of 12th graders NOT taking the SAT has grown by 4%
Indiana has expanded their student enrollment in public school by 46,263 since 2004.
In just one short year, 2007 to 2008, Indiana dramatically increased bankruptcy filings by 20.8 %.
The gains you and Governor Daniels have made in the state of Indiana are nothing short of remarkable. You have set the standard on how one can be effective regardless of circumstance. Initially I was skeptical of the impact of tying student performance to teacher pay and retention but now I realize that not only am I an effective teacher, I am also a prime candidate for Superintendent of Public Instruction and Governor.
Special Education Teacher
Eastern High School