Sunday, February 07, 2010

Civilization and it's Discontents

By Capt. Fogg

I've had enough of American TEA to be able to say with confidence that it has noting to do with any tax burden, real or imagined. What it seems to be is a collection of people searching for some rationalization for angers they don't full understand: anger about the demands of civilization, anger about the need for tolerance, being forced to live in a heterogeneous culture, a changing culture, a culture demanding more understanding and more education and more responsibility than they feel capable of. Not all of them are stupid or ignorant, but without the stupid and ignorant, they'd hardly make enough noise to be heard, even with the complicity and amplification provided by Fox News. They're much like the discontents Freud discussed, like the bomb bearing discontents abroad we tell ourselves hate us for "our freedoms."

Tom Tancredo has latched on to the Tea Party movement after being ousted from office by his constituents, in part because he needs to believe he wasn't rejected by his real constituents, but by an undesirable element who shouldn't be allowed to vote. That this disjointed movement contains many people who believe this is a Protestant white man's country and that others should feel grateful just to be allowed here -- and should not vote or be otherwise uppity is obvious. Hence when Tancredo told the Tea Party Thursday that President Obama was elected only because
"we do not have a civics, literacy test before people can vote in this country,"

it fell on grateful ears.

Mr. Obama's educational and intellectual capabilities and achievements are an obvious irritation to the sort of people Tancredo hopes to ingratiate himself with and when Tancredo allows them to feel warmly supported in their belief that the Harvard Scholar is stupid (he's black after all) and his success due to the stupidity of voters, their inhibitions melt away. They can tell themselves that they've been right all along for opposing civil rights for anyone but true (WASP) Americans and that the success of the civil rights movement has meant disaster for America. Not of course, the disaster of insidious economic policy, corruption, contrived and unnecessary wars and upside down tax structure, but the disaster of having a black president.

Ironically, so far only the darkness of Mr. Obama's complexion and the ability to speak clearly make him stand out among the presidents of the last century, but it's progress -- the idea of progress itself that motivates the snarling in the street. The golden era of laissez faire, white man's paradise they long for exists only in that nebulous Disneyland of the Conservative mind, where we didn't have wild, whipsaw boom-bust cycles, 40% poverty levels, massive social injustice, violence and all the rest of the real world long since buried under snowdrifts of revisionist rhetoric. In that world, black men don't vote, black people can't be trusted to vote, because they're stupider than the crackers and red-necks and bigots and reactionaries who carry signs and dream about a world that is friendly to their sociopathology and acknowledges their privilege and entitlement.

Does it say anything important about Tancredo's argument that the election was swayed by a host of illiterates if in the real world, Obama was heavily favored by educated people? Does it say anything about the real agenda of the Tancredo conservatives if he isn't hooted off the stage for wanting to bring back a shameful era? Sure it does, and that's why one should be forced to flunk a civics and literacy examination if not an IQ test in order to join the party.

(Cross posted from Human Voices)

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