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Monday, July 19, 2010

"Refudiate" Racism

Racism?  What racism?

There's no racism in the Tea Party Movement!   

Oh, you mean, this? Obama's head transposed on Hitler's body?

Just a few good ole boys who got carried away is all.

And, this?

Just a good, red-blooded American letting off some steam.

Besides, remember the First Amendment? We still have a right to free speech in this country, don't we?

The most recent dust-up came in response to a resolution passed by the NAACP, meeting in convention in Kansas City, which urged leaders of the Tea Party Movement that they should repudiate bigotry.

Mind you, the NAACP did not say that the Tea Party Movement was a racist organization. The resolution called for the leaders of the TPM to "repudiate bigotry".

Given the pictures above and in lots of places easily accessible on the internet, there is ample evidence of a "racist element" within the ranks of TPM.

Many Tea Party officials have expressed concerns that this is just a political stunt by the NAACP.

Before the NAACP had even gotten to the end of its resolution, the St. Louis Tea Party actually issued a resolution of its own.  They condemned the NAACP for even thinking of issuing a resolution that accused the Tea Parties of racism.

Members of the Tea Party are saying that the NAACP is trying to blame the movement for Obama’s failures. The Tea Party does not believe these accusations. The National Tea Party Federation issued a statement that rejected the accusations of the NAACP.

It's now become a war of words. Mrs. Palin has even invented one of her own:


That's what she "tweeted" last week about the controversial proposal to build a Mosque two blocks from Ground Zero.
“Ground Zero Mosque supporters: doesn’t it stab you in the heart, as it does ours throughout the heartland? Peaceful Muslims, pls refudiate,”
See? "Peaceful Muslims" are not to be confused with the majority of Muslims who are obviously not, in Mrs. Palin's estimation, "peaceful."

One liberal blogger asked, "If republicans can demand that immigrants speak English, can't we demand same of Sarah Palin?"

Another asked, "We want peaceful Muslims to distinguish themselves from radical Muslims, but we can't distinguish between a peaceful Mosque & terrorists?"

But, by then, everyone was on to her use of "refudiate" - an apparent if not fascinating combination of "refute" and "repudiate".

Mrs. Palin then fired back to critics by comparing herself to Shakespeare.
“Refudiate,” “misunderestimate,” “wee-weed up.” English is a living language. Shakespeare liked to coin new words too. Got to celebrate it!
Translation: "misunderestimate" is a "Bushism" (Thank ya, Dubya), which presumably means, "to seriously underestimate".

"Wee-weed up" is a slang from the 70's - which, I must admit, brought a smile of reminiscence to my lips - for acting silly or dopey after smoking too much marijuana.

Other Twitter users, apparently nonplussed by the new language, took Palin's message to heart, combining the language of Shakespeare and Palin's rhetoric to create unique messages under the hash tag #ShakesPalin.

"We few, we happy few, we band of Mama Grizzlies," tweeted Washington Post blogger Ezra Klein.

Ya gotta love her for providing a bit of comic relief in the midst of some very tense times. Well, when she doesn't make you want to run from the room, pulling out your hair while you engage in a primal scream.

And then there's the secretly recorded rant of Mel Gibson, reportedly to his wife . . or, ex-girlfriend . . . or, now "not-so-significant other" with whom he has an 8 month old child. In that rant he took down African Americans, Hispanic people and Jews.

"Sticks and stones can break my bones, but names will never hurt me." That's what we used to chant when we were little kids.

We were wrong.

We learned very early in the movement to end domestic violence that it is a cycle which begins with words.

Before the push, the shove, the slap, and the punch comes the derogatory remarks, the shame and blame, and the insults.

Those of us who know the violence aimed at LGBT people know it begins with the taunts of "Faggot!" and "Lesbo!"

Those of us who know the violence aimed at people of color know that it begins with objectification and dehumanization.

Those of us who have been to war know that it's much easier to kill a "Gook" or a "Kraut" than a person of Asian or a German ethnicity.

Good for the NAACP for formally calling the Tea Party Movement into account for the "racist tea leaves" in their political brew.

That is not to say that the TPM is, de facto, racist. That's not what the NAACP resolution said.

In April, a survey by the Winston Group, a GOP strategist firm, shocked many when it found that four in 10 Tea Party adherents are not Republicans, but independents or Democrats.

A follow-up New York Times survey revealed that Tea Party backers are not ill-educated, low-income, blue-collar whites. The majority is middle class, and many are highly educated and wealthy.

No matter what their former politics or party affiliation, the single overriding factor that drives them is the feeling that the country is heading in the wrong direction.

Fair enough.

Can we agree that allowing people to carry signs like those above and to your left are out of bounds?

Might we be able to expect that the good, "middle class, highly educated and wealthy" folk who supposedly fill the rank and file of the TPM would call their own into accountability and "refute", "repudiate" and/or "refudiate" these racist statements and images?

Can we expect some accountability from those who seek to hold our government accountable for what they feel is wasteful spending, greed and political corruption?

Good for the NAACP. 

Good for Mrs. Palin and other members of the TPM who "refudiate" racism - in any way, shape or form.

Talk, however, is cheap. Words without action are meaningless.

I want to see tangible evidence of that "refudiation". I want to see the TPM do a little house cleaning in their ranks - beginning with a permanent ban on the public display of those reprehensible, despicable, blatantly racist signs.

These bigots create mischief and havoc, poison the racial air, and in some cases pose a physical danger.

One would think that Tea Party leaders might welcome, not "refudiate" those who point that out.

I don't know about you, but I'm a hopeful person - a veritable "prisoner of hope" of which St. Paul so eloquently writes.

That being said, I'm not holding my breath.


Sherry Peyton said...

Simply put, BRAVO.

Kay & Sarah said...

"Sticks and stones will break your bones but words will never hurt you" is one of the biggest lies that has ever been told.

Allowing racist language in any organization should never be allowed under any circumstances. This is a slippery slope that we cannot stand by and allow people to go down. The TPM deserved to be called out and the leaders should respond by demanding that people associated with their group stop this kind of language immediately.

We have gone to a couple of meeting with our very conservative senator. The TPM was out in force and their language needs to be challenged. An African American gentleman stood up and made the statement that Barack Obama deserved a certain amount of respect as Commander in Chief. The man received all sorts of boos from the crowd. I was appalled. I turned and apologized to him.

Tim said...

Elizabeth, this is terrific--and a palliative of sorts for me, as I've just come from dinner with a close relative (Florida resident... read everything you can squeeze between the lines). Oh, a Christian as well. With no real provocation he tore loose on everything, blaming President Obama for not getting anything done to fix things in two years.

What about healthcare and financial reform? Not a blink. And what moral responsibility to the disenfranchised? "I'll tell you what's moral," he said, "getting a job instead of waiting for an envelope in the mail." (He doesn't recall that he was out of work for a year himself and I sent some envelopes of my own to supplement the ones he's talking about.)

And here was the capper--which Two Auntees' response immediately brought to mind. "I know there should be respect for the President... under certain conditions." What might those conditions be? I asked. And before he could formulate an answer, I said, "Let's drop it."

There is so much panic in the hearts and minds of these people. They're watching the world as they knew it--with its color-based privileges and economic advantages--fade rapidly before their eyes. They're fighting their fear with all they've got, reducing themselves to sandbox bullies, and you're right... their rants are foul, baseless, and base. Words, even the most infantile and desperate, are weapons. The outlive their speakers and poison the atmosphere.

I share your hope we will see change for good, but I'm not expecting a turnaround any time soon.

Thanks for this. Your sane cry for respect and dignity could not have found me at a better time!

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Thanks, all. It's pretty amazing, isn't it? Part of the problem, I think, is that we "progressive/liberal" types do not talk with each other enough about this. We certainly don't take action to hold each other accountable. I so admire the NAACP for taking this bold step. If we don't respect ourselves, then we invite the disrespect we get.

Göran Koch-Swahne said...

Yeah, whatever...

JimB said...

I love the idea that we could require politicians (on both sides) to pass a basic English test. This program could make a lot of vacancies available in Congress and especially in State Assemblies!

What really got my attention and caused several minutes of unbroken laughter was Ms. Palin comparing herself to Shakespear!


Anonymous said...

It has been proved that most if not all of those signs you have pictured were brought to the tea party events by left leaning bloggers bent on disrupting the events. And, if you are going to start to critisize people for improper grammar, start with Obama, who, on numerous occasions, even after being corrected, pronounces corps as 'corpse'i.e. Ameri-corpse, Peace-corpse, etc.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Oh, anonymous. I'll bet you got that bit of news from Fox News.

You should listen to what the BBC has to say about it. You know. For a "fair and balanced" perspective from those who don't really have a dog in this fight.

Francesco said...

Comparing the president to Hitler is unfortunately something that has been around for too long. Protesters had similar signs for Bush and Clinton. For many people the year is always 1933 and every law is the Enabling Act.

The sooner it ends the better.