My Kind of Tea Party | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

My Kind of Tea Party

Recently, I was asked to appear on a local cable talk show to talk about issues of the day. I didn't think much about it; it sounded easy and innocent enough. And I was busy and didn't bother to ask who I was appearing on the show alongside.

On my way to the station, I listened to the show on the radio (it's also on TV) and heard Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann defending the tea party, the apparent topic of the day. Worse than that, it was pure partisanship--Hosemann is a Republican; therefore, he has to criticize a Democratic president no matter what. I rolled my eyes.

When I got to the station, I had to wait while an elderly black preacher and a black conservative radio talk-show host cooed about the tea party, singing its praises and downplaying the idea that too much of its membership is united against a black president. I fidgeted, realizing that this kind of either-or conversation wasn't something that I believe is worth my time. I knew this wasn't likely to go well. I do not enjoy, nor typically listen to, the kind of either-or rants that comprise much of talk radio and, these days, cable news programs that love to divide themselves into some dude on the left yelling at a guy on the right.

I believe strongly that this kind of he-yelled-she-yelled discourse, and the media that promote it as "fair and balanced" (while using it to pump up ratings) are at the root of our country's inability to have nuanced, informed conversations on important issues. They turn what should be thoughtful conversation into blood sport with, often, two equally offensive ideologues screaming at each other. Or, two people pretending to be left or right. You can't even tell who means it anymore.

As I waited to go on, two awful things happened that tested my composure. For one, the radio-head started yelling about Rep. John Lewis--a civil-rights hero who tea-partiers taunted with racial epithets in D.C.--being a "liar." Lewis had revealed activity that made this hate-infested party look like what it is, and the only response is to call him a "liar"?

I twitched harder.

Then the host asked the tea-party preacher why he was a member of the tea party. For this gentleman, it wasn't about throwing tea overboard to complain about high taxes, nosirree bob. For him, it was all about the gays.

The homophobia was horrifying. He ranted about how homosexuals are trying to take over the schools. He said all Christians are against homosexuals. He spewed bigotry.

My twitches became outright tremors.

Soon, it was my turn to join the radio-talker and the host, who seemed rattled as well. What was remarkable to me was that the "balanced" format of the show seemed to keep him from saying much in response to the horrifying display we had just witnessed.

It was a moment in my life when I had to make a decision. Should I be the unscathed, cool and calm Donna Ladd who would sit up there and have a clever left-right tete-a-tete with the radio talker, seeing if I could out-clever him or overpower him with facts (not something playas like that care much about).

Or, would I follow my heart?

As I walked up there, I thought about growing up in Neshoba County where so few whites would speak up about the bigotry all around us, where no one believed that a white jury would even think of sending old Klansmen to prison for killing Chaney, Goodman and Schwerner. The pain of not even knowing about the crime that put my town on the map until I was 14 came crashing back. (It happened in 1964 when I was almost 3.)

I have long preached that good people must have the courage to speak up and talk back to hate and bigotry. But here I was the only white woman in the studio about to go on live TV with two tea-partiers who had just pierced the veil of human decency and probably didn't even know it. Why wouldn't they? Perhaps because we get so desensitized to hatefulness that we don't speak up and challenge them enough. We tune out and ignore them.

Kind of like they did in the Neshoba County of my childhood.

So I leapt. My voice cracked, and my hands shook, and I nearly cried as I said on that program exactly what I thought about the bigotry I had just heard toward homosexuals. I called out the falsehood that all Christians shared this preacher's beliefs. And I looked the radio-talker in the eye and challenged his vicious attack on Rep. John Lewis.

I even brought up the analogy that in the 1960s, white people allowed bigotry against Africans Americans to go unchecked.

Watching the show on a rebroadcast later, I was happy to see that I never yelled, although my emotion was naked as I said my piece.

As the show ended, I quickly pulled the microphone off and walked past a stunned crew as the radio-talker yelled defensively at me that I just think black people are my "pets." I guess that's the only fool response he could think of to a white woman from Mississippi who has decided that it is my duty to confront bigotry wherever she sees it. I make no apologies for not living up to my race's stereotype.

It turns out that the crew appreciated that I was willing to challenge the sick schtick that passes for political discourse these days. And I was able to look at myself in the mirror the next day. To be honest, this could not have hurt any more than my fifth-grade self being called an n----- lover by grown white men for challenging their bigoted jokes.

The incident, though, made me think a lot about what I and many other progressive-minded people are not doing: We are not challenging the hate rhetoric enough. It can seem easier to turn our heads and to never watch FOX or read the vitriolic tea-party blogs, but it is our responsibility to stand against hate.

Here in Mississippi, we are about to face a tough challenge as right-wing lawmakers try to match Arizona's hateful immigration laws. (What? Can we not allow another state to take the hate mantle away from us? Really?)

Just this week, Rep. Phil Bryant called the children of immigrants the horrifying phrase "anchor babies." This bigotry against U.S. citizens is fit for the Citizens Councils of old--hateful rhetoric designed to inflame and turn Americans against the "other." Sure, it's become politics as usual, but shrugging our shoulders is not good enough. If we care about our country, and our state, we will find the courage to spill a bit of tea of our own.

We must talk back. Every time.

Previous Comments

ID
158597
Comment

My heartbeat went up as I was reading this. There's something terribly disturbing behind the Tea Party, and few of us know what it is yet. Like the Klan of the 60's, it has our lawmakers scared to voice the opinion they know is right. The thing that scares me most is that no one knows where to turn for the truth. The most one-sided source on TV, Fox News, proudly touts itself as "fair and balanced". So, in turn, it's audience believes it to be so. Everything else is liberal agenda. Thanks for standing up to what you believe in, Donna. There are a lot of us progressives in this state who want to see it be a better place. All we can do is stand strong. I think and hope that justice and reason will prevail. CMyers

Author
C Myers
Date
2010-07-14T12:27:01-06:00
ID
158599
Comment

Great column, Donna. I wish I could have seen their faces. When people let bigoted lies stand unchallenged, it creates an atmosphere that emboldens demagogues. Only a small percentage of Americans share the outrageous views of tea partiers such as Sharron Angle and Rand Paul, to say nothing of the outright hateful speech you describe here. We can't let them claim the mantle of "real America," because real America has no interest in their extremism. Keep up the good fight!

Author
Brian C Johnson
Date
2010-07-14T12:51:40-06:00
ID
158602
Comment

Thanks all. I appreciate your comments. One point that I want to emphasize: Today's media are making this kind of bigotry more "acceptable" by going out and finding the most extreme people and giving them a platform to simply yell down more reasonable people who don't agree with them. Or, worse, finding two opposite extremes and pretending they cover the two "sides." (You know, the old Klan v. the NAACP problem.) Beyond that, I'm too sick to say much more. I'll let y'all handle the discussion. Cheers.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2010-07-14T13:43:22-06:00
ID
158603
Comment

Good job, Donna. Role models have to be role models in all sorts of situations, especially the very uncomfortable ones. Our state has a history of (eventually) listening to those who speak up from the vantage point of the high road. We are still good people at heart. Keep at it!

Author
Leland Jr
Date
2010-07-14T13:48:43-06:00
ID
158605
Comment

Donna, does it not give you a moment of pause that out of the hundreds of videos shot of Rep. Lewis entering Congress that day, not one actually seems to contain this incident? I'm not saying he's a liar; he may very well believe he heard the word. I am also aware of the eye witness testimony, but I am also aware of the problems with it. For example, there are at least four eye witness accounts of something other than a commercial airliner hitting the Pentagon on 9/11, but that doesn't make me think for a second that it wasn't actually an airliner. People remember the wrong thing for many reasons. Until I see evidence to the contrary, I am going to have to stick with the stronger evidence pool- hundreds of camera videos that don't show this happening. I fear that your lack of incredulity demonstrates a basic flaw in the political discourse today. Prejudice and bigotry seem to be only attributed to racial issues, particularly in the case of whites displaying this behavior. However, these words describe states of mine that do not have to be race related. I feel that your putting so much stock in an as yet unproven charge due to who the charge was made by and who it was against reveals that you already have your own preconceived notions about who comprises the Tea Party and have no problem painting them with that brush even when the claim is dubious at best. It is intellectually dishonest and it is its own kind of prejudice and bigotry. I am not a Tea Partier. I was living in Austin, Texas at the time these things began to get started (Austin has a large, active libertarian presence that initially seemed to jive well with the Tea Party), and I was sad to see the movement increasingly co-opted by GOP hacks like Sarah Palin and Rick Perry and start moving away from being a movement about taxation and small government to one that increasingly began to allow the same old social issues the Christian Right loves to fret over slip in. I also have no doubt that there are racists in the Tea Party. I just don't think there are many. I have no doubt that there are racists in the NAACP as well, as well as just about every other national political organization. It just seems that we tend to get histrionic when we find evidence of such racism in the organizations we want to hate anyway, and tend to ignore it in the ones we wish to hold sacrosanct. I find the outrage over challenging John Lewis' allegations in the face of the current evidence to be grounded fairly poorly in the facts as they are now. I agree that he may not be a liar, but I also do not believe that any politician, including Civil Rights heroes, are above playing politics and stirring their base. Perhaps that comes from two many years around political strategists from both the left and right.

Author
Lucius_Sulla
Date
2010-07-14T13:55:14-06:00
ID
158608
Comment

It is amazing that before the 2008 election there was no such thing as the Tea Party . Our county had the problems then that it has now. Illegal wire taps, secert meeting with Engery providers, maded up reasons to go to war. Doing that time no mention of anything that was remortely similar to the Tea Party.

Author
touch golden
Date
2010-07-14T13:57:47-06:00
ID
158609
Comment

The answer is very simple: That, if true, does not give me pause, Lucius. Rep. Lewis has spent his life building credibility. The Tea Party, on the other hand ... A quick story: In the 1980s in NYC, I was a young journalist covering protests around a park there. I reported that one of the "radicals" -- these guys would make most liberals look like middle-right at most -- yelled something very offensive at one of the conservatives in the community. I *heard* it. Their response was that no one had it on tape, so it didn't happen, and wanting my tape, which I didn't provide because journalists don't just hand over our tapes easily. I didn't need to: I knew it happened. Moral: Just because it's not found on an available tape doesn't mean it wasn't said. Besides, in the case of this radiohead, the fact that he had not heard it on tape doesn't mean that Rep. Lewis is a "LIAR" as he declared; it means that no one has it on tape. That might test the credibility for some, but it in no way supports that kind of unsupportable response of repeatedly declaring him a LIAR without evidence that he, well, lied. Get it now?

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2010-07-14T14:11:23-06:00
ID
158610
Comment

Oh, and what's really remarkable about your post -- and one that proves my ultimate point although I doubt you realize it -- is that you seems to find my outrage at the talker for repeatedly declaring Lewis a liar without evidence more of a "basic flaw" in discourse than the radiohead's incendiary approach to, uh, "discourse." You really ought to go think about this one some more. I'm in the business and finding and discussing facts and the truth, and I have a long history of letting the chips fall wherever they need to, regardless of whether left or right. I also know a rhetorical trap when I see one. And a tea-partier proclaiming that Lewis is a LIAR under these circumstances in order to defend said tea party was disgusting, and is a prime example of exactly what is wrong with our discourse and the media climate that has enabled people who just spew partisan insults to have an equal pulpit to those who actually care about the truth. And that, my friend, is intellectual honesty.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2010-07-14T14:21:40-06:00
ID
158611
Comment

Lucius, you're parroting right-wing talking points by talking about "hundreds of videos" shot on the day in question. The fact that people were taking videos that day does not in any way undermine the credibility of Rep. Lewis' claim. This point would carry weight only if there were hundreds of videos of the incident itself. Your claim that hundreds of videos of other events that day somehow disproves this event is completely illogical. And I assume you have personally reviewed the "hundreds of videos" and can provide a link to them? The fact that you dismiss witness accounts out of hand reveals where your prejudice lies. That and the fact that you suggest Lewis is either hallucinating or lying to serve a political purpose. That's some fancy footwork. "I am not saying Lewis is a liar. I am saying he is delusional." Calling the claim "dubious at best" based on your incredibly flimsy argument is laughable. Your attempt to draw an equivalence between racism and dislike for the tea party is also laughable. The first is hatred for an entire group of people based on the color of their skin. The second is reasoned criticism of a political movement. They are not at all the same.

Author
Brian C Johnson
Date
2010-07-14T14:26:05-06:00
ID
158613
Comment

I understand what you are saying, but the amount of recording available at the 1980s protest you were covering and a protest today are staggeringly different. There are literally hundreds of recordings from various vantages or this same period of time, and none of them so far contain this language. It's not just that A TAPE didn't contain this language, it is that hundreds didn't. I find it very hard to believe that at least some of that raw footage out there wouldn't have something. I don't deny it isn't impossible, but arguing that a claim is true because there is no way to completely prove it isn't is a logical fallacy. So in this case, being that I wasn't there, I have to go with what seems to best represent what was going on. In this case, I have to take all the video footage over the claims of a politician. And to be clear, I don't think the Tea Party is beyond criticism. I am fully on your side about the homosexuality anecdote. With issues like abortion and gay marriage becoming more a part of the Tea Party platform, I think there is a serious case to be made that growing chunks of Tea Partiers are still driven by bigotries and taboos steeped in fundamentalism and that they may even come to dominate it - a new Christian Coalition with some fancy, superficial libertarian packaging. I not only think you are right to point this out, but I am glad to see it done. I am also not implying that Rep. Lewis is a liar even if nothing was said. There are many, completely legitimate reasons to believe something was said that may have not been.

Author
Lucius_Sulla
Date
2010-07-14T14:33:50-06:00
ID
158616
Comment

The saddest part is how credible Lewis' accusation actually is based on what we've seen out of the tea party, and on their own signs at their rallies. There is nothing dubious about a report from credible (black) people that some tea-partiers yelled racist statements at them. It's sadly predictable. The problem, of course, is what the NAACP is complaining about this week (which I hadn't seen when I wrote this column). They are right: This political "party" is harboring racists. The evidence is all around and in the e-mails many of us get every day from tea-partiers. Trying to deny it and demand tapes doesn't change that fact. If you do not consider yourself a racist, it is your responsibility to call it out. There is power in numbers, or the lack of them. Like I said, I remember Neshoba County (et al)?

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2010-07-14T15:03:23-06:00
ID
158617
Comment

OK Brian, I'll bite. "Lucius, you're parroting right-wing talking points by talking about "hundreds of videos" shot on the day in question." It may be a talking point, but it is actually correct. I can't help that occasionally talking points make a good point. "Your claim that hundreds of videos of other events that day somehow disproves this event is completely illogical. And I assume you have personally reviewed the "hundreds of videos" and can provide a link to them?" There were hundreds of videos of Lewis entering the Capitol that day, which is when this supposedly happened. I have not watched them all, but after the allegation, many were on YouTube, and I probably watched 15 or 20. I would think that a site like the HuffPo or the DailyKos would have thoroughly vetted as many as they could find, and yet none of these places have managed to find video of this happening. " "I am not saying Lewis is a liar. I am saying he is delusional." Calling the claim "dubious at best" based on your incredibly flimsy argument is laughable." I'd prefer you not to quote things I never said. I never said he was delusional. One would have to believe that the only reason why people hear or remember events differently than they occurred is because they are in a state of delusion. I don't believe that at all. Perfectly rational people of sound mind mishear and remember things incorrectly all the time, and their are well researched, clinical reasons why we do this as a species. It's a normal part of being human. However, to me, the claim does seem dubious, i.e. suspect. Being suspect doesn't mean that I think Lewis is an evil ne'er-do-well. "Your attempt to draw an equivalence between racism and dislike for the tea party is also laughable. The first is hatred for an entire group of people based on the color of their skin. The second is reasoned criticism of a political movement. They are not at all the same." I never said anything about racism. I mentioned prejudice and bigotry, two words that, unfortunately, have come to be synonymous with racism. However, they are not. They can stem from racism, but they can stem from many other things. My hometown is prejudiced and bigoted toward the neighboring town, generally centering along socio-economic stereotypes and not skin color. Racism is the irrational belief that one race is genetically inferior to another. Prejudice and bigotry can spawn from this, but it can stem from stereotyping in anyway. Donna, yes, I do concede that the pundit was being inflammatory by saying Rep. Lewis was a liar with no proof that Lewis was actually maliciously inventing a story. That is a rhetorical trick that does nothing to promote discourse, and I absolutely agree that he could have debated the point without stooping to ad hominem attacks. It certainly does make him look callow and lacking any real point.

Author
Lucius_Sulla
Date
2010-07-14T15:07:31-06:00
ID
158619
Comment

Lucius, Brian is pointing out your logical issues quite nicely without me, so I'll let him have it. The only thing I'll add to it your remark about cameras and protests changing since I covered them in the 1980s. Well, I've covered protests ever since the 1980s, and huge ones -- from anti- war marches against the Gulf War to Bush inaugural protests and many others -- for the Voice and other publications. I've been a reporter right in the middle of those crowds, and I've been alongside documentary makers and other broadcast journalists. No camera can catch everything that's said in those situations. That's a specious claim, and part of a logical fallacy to say that Rep. Lewis et al were lying because no one has presented a tape to back them up. We don't even demand that standard in our courts for rather obvious reasons. Sorry, these talking points don't hunt.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2010-07-14T15:49:02-06:00
ID
158620
Comment

BTW, Sulla, why don't you post under your real name if you want to have a good conversation. We don't require it, but it's the trend here these days. And I find I don't have much patience these days for conversing with people who hide behind pseudonyms. Just a tip. Besides, the whole Roman fake name thing is a bit overdone in our market.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2010-07-14T15:59:42-06:00
ID
158621
Comment

Well, I can appreciate the sentiment since this is a paper and not just a Internet forum. You'd be surprised how similar some parts of are academic background are :-) Jason Cain

Author
Lucius_Sulla
Date
2010-07-14T16:10:25-06:00
ID
158622
Comment

Probably not. I share an alma mater with lots of people in these parts. What people have in common seldom surprises me. It's that so many people don't look for commanality with others that blows my mind.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2010-07-14T16:16:07-06:00
ID
158623
Comment

Not the MSU part. More the j-school/law school thing, though I am on the comm side of that spectrum.

Author
Lucius_Sulla
Date
2010-07-14T16:32:17-06:00
ID
158624
Comment

Allow me to add something here separate from the tit-for-tat over a tape. I'm getting a lot of response to this column already, including one-on-one from people who focusing in on different parts of it: the civil rights part (Rep. Lewis/race); the gay part; or the immigration part. I'd like to challenge each of you to back up and see the big picture here: We all must stand up for the rights of others and not just those who are part of the group we self-identify with (or who groups like the tea party group us with a la immigrants). I am not gay, black or an immigrant, but I believe that the strength of our nation depends on us all standing up for each other's rights. Many people do that, but many others don't. It always pains me to see the one-issue folks show up to talk about "their" issue while ignoring the others. There is strength in numbers, and the problem with the tea party, "anchor baby" rhetoric and homophobia is all the same: fear-based hate that divides people so that smaller groups can gain power over what ought to be the majority. Rep. Bryant should make a public apology for those comments -- talking about "anchor babies" about fellow American citizens is horrifying" and designed only to inflame. But he probaby won't because he wants the votes of bigots and xenophobes. That is his burden to bear, but the rest of us do not need to help him prop it up with our silence. Folks, our state has been down this road. Please, for the love of everything right and moral, let us know go down it again. Prayer over.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2010-07-14T16:34:39-06:00
ID
158625
Comment

No surprise, either, Sulla -- although I don't know what it has to do with the price of tea in the U.S. (smile) Let's stay on topic.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2010-07-14T17:03:44-06:00
ID
158627
Comment

Lucius, you're going to have present evidence that there are "hundreds" of videos of Rep. Lewis walking into the Capitol that were close enough to pick up audio. Only a video that was close enough to pick up audio at the time of the alleged event could even conceivably discredit Lewis' claim. The right-wing media often repeats claims so many times that people begin to accept them, but these claims often turn out to be completely unsubstantiated. I have seen some of the videos that do exist, and they have very poor audio. It's hardly shocking that they missed the incident. An absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. That is the central problem with your argument. Furthermore, it's not as if we have only Rep. Lewis' word for what happened. The incident was witnessed by Rep. Andre Carson and Rep. Emanuel Cleaver as well, according to news reports. Since when is the testimony of multiple eyewitnesses unacceptable as evidence? More to the point, why is it so hard to believe that someone screamed the epithet at him? There is no shortage of evidence that some tea partiers are vile racists. I don't think the movement itself is racist, but it certainly has attracted people who are. When we have voluminous photographic evidence of people carrying racist signs at tea party events, why should our default position be one of "incredulity" toward a man of great integrity? Again, your argument is flimsy.

Author
Brian C Johnson
Date
2010-07-14T19:49:38-06:00
ID
158628
Comment

As for the implications of your claims, I am sure that people understood from the context that my quote was facetious. You're trying to have it both ways in your "incredulity" toward Lewis. On the one hand, he might have misheard the claim for perfectly innocent reasons, being a fallible human being. On the other, you keep saying it hard to believe a "politician," which suggests mendacity. You said, "I also do not believe that any politician, including Civil Rights heroes, are above playing politics and stirring their base." So which is it, Lucius? Lewis imagined the word for perfectly innocent reasons, or he was "playing politics" and "stirring the base"? As for racism in general, I understand the distinction between prejudice in general and racism in particular. But you keep trying to equivocate. You say that there are racists in the tea party, but there are also racists in the NAACP. You present no evidence for the latter, and it is wrong to compare an imaginary NAACP member who is prejudiced against white people with actual racists. That is the sort of false binary Donna wrote about in her column.

Author
Brian C Johnson
Date
2010-07-14T20:14:54-06:00
ID
158629
Comment

The reaction of conservatives to the recent statement by the NAACP condemning "racist elements" within the tea party is telling. Note that the NAACP explicitly stated that the tea party movement itself is not racist. But it called on the movement to repudiate members who are racists. Instead, the movement and its advocates have responded with fury. Michael Steele called it "name-calling." Sarah Palin said that she was "saddened by the NAACP's claim that patriotic Americans ... are somehow racists." But the worst reaction came from Mark Williams, a national spokesman for Tea Party Express. Here we have an extreme form of the same tired comparison between the NAACP and--you know--actual racists. "You're dealing with people who are professional race-baiters, who make a very good living off this kind of thing. They make more money off of race than any slave trader ever. It's time groups like the NAACP went to the trash heap of history where they belong with all the other vile racist groups that emerged in our history."

Author
Brian C Johnson
Date
2010-07-14T20:38:01-06:00
ID
158631
Comment

There has never been any race, religion, political movement, culture or demographic free of prejudice and xenophobia. More thankfully, the same can be said for voices of reason and tolerance.

Author
ed inman
Date
2010-07-14T21:24:16-06:00
ID
158635
Comment

Unfortunately, though, Ed, too often one of those groups has more power than the other one -- or at least too many people thinks it does. The voices of reason and tolerance *must* get louder, or this American experiment is going to fail. Not to be dramatic, but hey.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2010-07-15T09:07:30-06:00
ID
158697
Comment

I'm kinda late chiming in. I don't think the Tea Party is inherently racist, but the racist elements within the movement have not been discouraged to tone down their rhetoric by the more sane or notable members. If anything, people like Michele Bachmann and her ilk seem to have been emboldened by them. While I've never heard her personally say anything to be taken as racist, her refusal to tell others to not do so gives it as much an endorsement as those who come right out and say it. @Cyndy, I love your statement about Christians and hate. Jesus Himself would shake his head if he came down to hear what "Christians" say about other people.

Author
golden eagle
Date
2010-07-18T14:32:34-06:00
ID
158724
Comment

I don't know how anyone can truly know he glorious history of the NAACP yet call it a racist organization. The TEA party is another story in my opinion although they have some boundless and bountiful black people among their ranks, who don't have a problem lying about and degrading the NAACP, it members or anyone else speaking the truth about its so called fringe or lunatic elements. They must be paying them negroes well.

Author
Walt
Date
2010-07-19T17:53:52-06:00
ID
158725
Comment

Agreed about the NAACP, Walt. It is such blatant and woeful ignorance to go after the NAACP for being a "racist" organization. Only someone with a severely limited knowledge of race history in our country would attempt that. They're too ignorant, apparently, to understand that the NAACP was actually considered conservative and too staid by many civil-rights organizations during the movement. And, thank you, Cyndy and everyone else who has been touched by this column. This is one I felt compelled to write due to the levels of nastiness and bigotry that the tea party is bringing out, or harboring, in many people. Very, very sad, and we won't want to go down that road again in Mississippi. Been there, suffered through that. I can't tell you the response this one has brought from so many different people, and so many white people. Everywhere I go right now people are mentioning this column, and I even am getting snail mail about it, which doesn't happen as much these days! Thank you, all. The response gives me such hope. Keep speaking out, all. It's the best way to respond to hate and nastiness.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2010-07-19T18:19:35-06:00
ID
158726
Comment

I dont know how anyone can look at what the NAACP has become and not call it a racist organization. I'm sure you've seen this making the rounds today: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t_xCeItxbQY&feature=player_embedded Notice, the applause, the "thats right"s, the complete acceptance of outright bigotry and discrimination at an NAACP event. I cant even comprehend a white person making statements like this in public. I am yet to see anything approaching this level of outright, open racism from a Tea Party event. Please, Ms. Ladd, comment on this.

Author
MattS
Date
2010-07-19T19:26:02-06:00
ID
158730
Comment

There are nutjobs in every movement who will try to co-opt the message, and the Tea Party has unfortunately attracted its share of racist nutjobs. I don't believe that The Tea Party as a whole is racist, but it can't be denied that there are members in the Tea Party who see the movement as cover to express their hatred for Obama because he's black. Those folks need to be called out and booted out if they can't check their racial prejudices at the door.

Author
Jeff Lucas
Date
2010-07-20T08:30:34-06:00
ID
158731
Comment

I found a YouTube video about what if the Tea Party were black: www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZtH7vH4yRcY

Author
golden eagle
Date
2010-07-20T08:34:19-06:00
ID
158735
Comment

A few notes on the "MattS" YouTube link above: (1.) This is an Andrew Breitbart special -- same guy who claimed to have proof that John Lewis was lying about racial epithets and then showed video of Lewis *leaving* the Capitol (the epithets were when Lewis was entering the Capitol) -- he's also the same guy who put out the "pimped up" ACORN video that suggested through editing ACORN had given advice to some sort of 1970s-style "superfly" version of a "pimp and ho." (2.) True to form, the video is edited and titled to suggest that Sherrod was talking about an incident from her recent career with the Ag Department; she's actually talking about something that happened 20 years ago when she was working in rural Georgia helping farmers. (3.) A less-edited video clip is hard to find (the right-o-sphere and Fox "News" are viral marketing the crap out of this thing), but she's relating the story in order to talk about why it was a mistake in her career and that she's learned from it. From the WaPo piece: One of the online snippets shows her all but saying she was wrong and explaining that the episode helped her to understand that race should not have played a role in the matter. Sherrod has since told CNN and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that she worked for some two years to help the white man save his farm and that she and the man's family ultimately became friends. The wife of the white farmer, who is deceased, has apparently confirmed Sherrod's version of events. I'd say, like the WaPo blogger, the Ag Dept moved too quickly to let Sherrod go without digging deeper into this. Contrast that, if you please, with the the "satirical letter" by Mark Williams that started the whole thing with the NAACP and the Tea Party, and that I suspect is the reason that Breitbart is trying his ACORN-killing tactics on the NAACP.

Author
Todd Stauffer
Date
2010-07-20T12:16:04-06:00
ID
158736
Comment

UPDATE: Media Matters explores this more fully, asking why Breitbart won't release the whole tape. Here's hoping his 15 minutes are up. Sherrod said the short video clip excluded the breadth of the story about how she eventually worked with the man over a two-year period to help ward off foreclosure of his farm, and how she eventually became friends with him and his wife. "And I went on to work with many more white farmers," she said. "The story helped me realize that race is not the issue, it's about the people who have and the people who don't. When I speak to groups, I try to speak about getting beyond the issue of race." http://mediamatters.org/blog/201007200022 More from CNN: http://www.cnn.com/2010/POLITICS/07/20/agriculture.employee.naacp/index.html

Author
Todd Stauffer
Date
2010-07-20T12:20:57-06:00
ID
158737
Comment

Todd you still fail to acknowledge the crowd reaction, which is more telling of the organization and its members. They clearly agreed with her actions and were happy that she stuck it to the white guy. Funny you find ways to discredit an actual video Breitbart releases but take as gospel the word of Lewis - a partisan with a clear reason to distract on that very contentious day. Don't believe those lyin eyes.

Author
MattS
Date
2010-07-20T12:29:53-06:00
ID
158739
Comment

Todd you still fail to acknowledge the crowd reaction, which is more telling of the organization and its members. They clearly agreed with her actions and were happy that she stuck it to the white guy. Actually, no. From watching the clip it's clear that the crowd reacts when she first recounts in this *historical* story, the idea that the white farmer was being condescending to her *while* asking for her help. (You might note with an objective mind that condescending to someone while asking for their help *is* humorous, or at least ironic. And it's a circumstance that some of the African-Americans in that room could relate to.) Later, when she talks about not initially helping the farmer with everything that she could and referring him to a white attorney, there's almost no reaction from the crowd. The tape simply doesn't support what you're saying, Matt. As as for Breitland, I didn't discredit him; he's done it to himself with his video editing. It'll be interesting to see if the Sherrod story is the one that brings him down. Or...maybe he'll get a satellite radio show. Who knows with right-wing media?

Author
Todd Stauffer
Date
2010-07-20T13:04:37-06:00
ID
158740
Comment

Maybe this will get through the current comment system glitches... Matt - let's ask a question - what major event involved the Dept of Agriculture approximately 20 years ago when these statements were made? Hint 1: It involved black farmers. Hint 2: It was settled in 1999. Hint 3: Only recently did the government agree to pay out for this. For those unable to connect the dots, the Pickford v. Glickman suit was over systematic discrimination by the USDA from 1983 and 1997. And I'll bet the audience were people who had been on the short end of that particular stick for years already and were angry about it. So, yeah, I think their reaction is visceral and pretty understandable. And this just now: NAACP endorses Sherrod's resignation.

Author
Pilgrim
Date
2010-07-20T13:06:30-06:00
ID
158756
Comment

Update: The NAACP is taking back their condemnation of Sherrod now that they've seen the full tape, claiming they were "snookered" by Fox News and Breitbart: "Having reviewed the full tape by Shirley Sherrod, who is the woman who was fired by the Department of Agriculture, and most importantly heard the testimony of the white farmers mentioned in this story, we now believe that the organization that edited the documents did so with the intention of deceiving millions of Americans," the statement from NAACP President Benjamin Jealous said. From later in the story, the NAACP release explains the reasoning for their reversal: "She was sharing this account as part of a story of transformation and redemption," the statement said. "In the full video, Ms. Sherrod says she realized that the dislocation of farmers is about 'haves and have nots.' 'It's not just about black people, it's about poor people,' says Sherrod in the speech. 'We have to get to the point where race exists but it doesn't matter.' "

Author
Todd Stauffer
Date
2010-07-20T17:25:44-06:00
ID
158757
Comment

I'll be more than happy to respond, MattS. FOX News and that Breitbart character are disgusting and seem to be trying to start a race war in their haste to defend actual bigots by concocting edited videos to trash black people. They even managed to snooker the NAACP ... for a minute: NAACP 'snookered' over video of former USDA employee Money quotes: Meanwhile, the farmer referenced in the clip told CNN he credits Sherrod with helping his family save their farm. "I don't know what brought up the racist mess," Roger Spooner told CNN's "Rick's List." "They just want to stir up some trouble, it sounds to me in my opinion." Spooner says Sherrod accompanied him and his wife to a lawyer in Americus, Georgia, who was able to help them file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, which ultimately saved their farm. "If it hadn't been for her, we would've never known who to see or what to do," he said. "She led us right to our success." Spooner's wife, Eloise, remembered Sherrod as "nice-mannered, thoughtful, friendly; a good person." She said that when she saw the story of the tape and Sherrod's resignation on television, "I said, 'That ain't right. They have not treated her right.' " Good for the farmer and his wife: clearly good people. You should be careful what kind of people who are so quick to defend ... and to trash.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2010-07-20T17:27:30-06:00
ID
158758
Comment

(Sorry for double-posting with Todd. We must have the same Twitter feed. ;-)

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2010-07-20T17:29:57-06:00
ID
158759
Comment

More from MediaMatters: Breitbart's Sherrod narrative unravels

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2010-07-20T17:34:52-06:00
ID
158761
Comment

I wonder if this tape is in revenge for the NAACP calling for the repudiation of racism within the tea party.

Author
golden eagle
Date
2010-07-20T19:05:41-06:00
ID
158764
Comment

I am disturbed by the atmosphere of racial ugliness that is growing in our country. I accept that most tea partiers and libertarians are not racist, though I still don't understand why libertarians would care much about immigration. But the moment feels dangerous to me.

Author
Brian C Johnson
Date
2010-07-20T20:27:45-06:00
ID
158765
Comment

I am a numbers guy so I appreciate anyone who looks hard at the numbers... and this particular set of numbers say that the Tea Party may indeed be racist -- towards blacks AND whites. http://volokh.com/2010/07/20/assessing-the-survey-data-on-tea-party-racism/ The sad, overtly racist signs and slogans - and the preference by its leaders to point fingers back rather than denouncing them - still gives me the impression that rank-and-file Tea Partiers don't particularly mind being lumped in with racists, which is almost as bad in my book. In any case, it looks like these are some unhappy, pessimistic folks.

Author
Leland Jr
Date
2010-07-20T21:16:47-06:00
ID
158766
Comment

[quote]OX News and that Breitbart character are disgusting and seem to be trying to start a race war in their haste to defend actual bigots by concocting edited videos to trash black people. They even managed to snooker the NAACP ... for a minute:[/quote] True, but I'm actually more bothered by Secy. Vilsack's rush to judgment in firing her over this before investigating given the source. At least the NAACP wasn't in a position to fire her directly. If I were her I'm not sure I would accept the offer to rehire me. And while I expected the FauxNews criticism, didn't pretty much EVERY media outlet run with this story?

Author
Jeff Lucas
Date
2010-07-21T07:08:38-06:00
ID
158768
Comment

More from the land of Breitbart clean-up: Full Video Vindicates Sherrod from Media Matters (based on the full video feed posted by the NAACP): This from part of the speech well after Breitbart made his cut: SHERROD: You know, and they could be black, and they could be white, they could be Hispanic. And it made me realize then that I needed to work to help poor people -- those who don't have access the way others have. I want to just share something with you and I think it helps to -- you know, when I learned this, I'm like, oh, my goodness. You know, back in the late 17th and 18th century, black -- there were black indentured servants and white indentured servants, and they all would work for seven years and get their freedom. And they didn't see any difference in each other -- nobody worried about skin color. They married each other. You know, these were poor whites and poor blacks in the same boat, except they were slaves, but they were both slaves and both had their opportunity to work out on the slavery. But then they started looking at the injustices that they faced and started then trying -- you know, the people with money -- you know, they started -- the poor whites and poor blacks -- they -- you know, they married each other. They lived together. They were just like we would be. And they started looking at what was happening to them and decided we need to do something about it -- you know, about this. Well, the people with money, the elite, decided, hey, we need to do something here to divide them. So that's when they made black people servants for life. That's when the put laws in place forbidding them to marry each other. That's when they created the racism that we know of today. They did it to keep us divided. And they -- it started working so well, they said, gosh, looks like we've come up on something here that can last generations -- and here we are. Over 400 years later, and it's still working. What we have to do is get that out of our heads. There is no difference between us.

Author
Todd Stauffer
Date
2010-07-21T08:47:09-06:00
ID
158769
Comment

If I were Mrs. Sherrod, I'd sue Breitbart and Fox News. Hopefully, the media as a whole will stop bowing to the False Noise Channel and running with their stories without some verification.

Author
golden eagle
Date
2010-07-21T09:04:58-06:00

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