Tea Party Rhetoric: Do They Support Slavery & Lynching?
Rep. Andre Carson, a black Democrat from Indiana, is being criticized for saying that some in the Tea Party movement support lynching. In the absence of Tea Party members agreeing with him, I think Carson should back down from this one because the Tea Party will inevitably say something even worse any day now.
Washington politics have descended into an eternal game of “Gotcha!”, with each side trying to twist every statement from its opponent into a scandal. When liberals such as Carson stretch at all to accuse the Tea Party, I wonder, “Why bother? It can’t be worse than what they actually admit to.”
Carson was at an event in Miami as part of the Congressional Black Caucus’ Job Tour. This contains some audio of his speech that day, along with similar speeches from several other prominent black politicians:
“This is the effort that we’re seeing of Jim Crow. Some of these folks in Congress right now would love to see us as second-class citizens. Some of them in Congress right now of this Tea Party movement would love to see you and me… hanging on a tree.”
Carson has defended his statement, though he seems to suggest that he used lynching as a metaphor, not literally, for the state of the underserved. “The Tea Party is protecting its millionaire and oil company friends while gutting critical services that they know protect the livelihood of African-Americans, as well as Latinos and other disadvantaged minorities,” said a spokesperson for the congressman.
Similarly, Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. awkwardly tried to connect Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry to slavery through Perry’s support of the 10th Amendment of the US Constitution, which gives to the states all powers not explicitly given to the federal government. As Jackson points out, it was included in the Constitution largely to satisfy the slave-holding states, and it continued to be their main argument against the federal government for decades. But Perry supports states’ rights because of gun laws, taxation, and marriage, having nothing to do with slavery.
I’m not saying either Carson or Jackson are entirely wrong, but why distort the facts at all? If you want to connect Rick Perry to the confederacy in the Civil War, you can just point out that he wanted Texas to secede from the Union. If you want to show that the Tea Party supports a return to Jim Crow values, just remind everyone that Rep. Michelle Bachmann signed a marriage pledge saying black families were better off during slavery. She signed that; it’s indisputable.
To be fair, conservatives must feel the same way about liberals. After watching the video of Rep. Carson and the others several times, I thought it was a compilation of compelling (if emotional) arguments against poverty and racism. Then I realized it had been posted as criticism by Glenn Beck’s Web site, The Blaze. (Of course, I should have realized the real source from all the spelling errors in the video. What’s a “jor fair” anyway?)
To Beck and his supporters, these men and women passionately stating their beliefs is the best criticism. Maybe its time to turn the strategy around, and let the Tea Party talk for itself.