Tea party’s ugly reality: racism, sexism, homophobia


Last weekend's final days of struggle to pass the health care reform bill starkly showed the ugly reality that is the "tea party."

From its inception the tea party people have used every dirty trick in the book to try to scare people into opposing heath care reform - from the "death panels" to how "awful" a government-run health care system would be - even though that is not what was proposed and most countries with government-run health care have better health care then we do.

But those lies and distortions could not win the battle for them so they threw in a massive dose of racism, primarily aimed at the president, sexism on the abortion issue, and red-baiting to try to further confuse, divide and panic the people. Media outlets like Fox gave the fullest coverage to these lies day in and day out.

I favored a stronger bill, at least with a public option. But in that atmosphere it is amazing that even the modest final version of the bill passed. Those members of Congress who stood up to the hysteria, racism, red-baiting and threats and voted for the bill are to be commended. In our electoral system it's tough for capitalist politicians to do the right thing when it might mean they will face a well-financed right-wing attack machine this November. 

The tea party folks, fearing a big loss was coming, were all over Capitol Hill last Saturday making their final push to defeat health care reform.  Just like they did at the town hall meetings last fall, they were in the faces of members of Congress, screaming and cursing.  

It was a shocking display of in-your-face racism. Congressman John Lewis, D-Ga., was called the "n" word more than once.  So were Reps. Jim Clyburn, D-S.C., and Andre Carson, D-Ind. 

Lewis, the African American veteran civil rights leader who was beaten unconscious on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in the 1965 Selma, Alabama, march, said, "I haven't heard anything like this in 45 years." Clyburn, a fellow member of the Congressional Black Caucus and a veteran of the Southern struggle, called it "absolutely shocking."

But that's not all. When Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass.,who is gay, was walking through the halls of the Capitol building which were packed with tea party protesters, he was also verbally assaulted, repeatedly called the "f" word. "It's almost like the Salem witch trials," he said.

Rep. Bobby Scott, D-Va., also black, pointed out the sheer confusion of the protesters. "I have never heard anyone campaign for their freedom to be uninsured. I've never heard anyone campaign against Medicare," said Scott. "That's what you're dealing with."

The protesters carried many signs opposing any inclusion of women's reproductive rights in the bill. In fact, bowing to right-wing pressure, the bill retains the reactionary restrictions of the Hyde Amendment which prohibits use of any federal money to pay for abortions. 

The stench of fascism is all over the teabaggers.

Not so long ago those bigoted, red-baiting attacks would have won the day. No matter what might think of the bill, the fact that it was passed despite the most extreme right-wing demagogic, bigoted, ideological attack shows that some significant shifts in mass thought patterns in a progressive direction are taking place today and it is affecting the thinking of members of Congress.

As the struggle goes forward to improve health care (single-payer, for one) and the big struggle for jobs is unfolding, it is imperative that there be a stepped up ideological struggle against racism, sexism, homophobia and anti-communism if we are going move things in a progressive direction. 

This is not just the lunatic fringe we are dealing with.  I don't care how much Michael Steele apologizes for the racists in his party.  This isn't just the "tea party"; it is also the GOP. 

Newt Gingrich, who is supposed to be a right-wing idealogue and intellectual, showed his true racist essence when he warned the Democrats that if they passed the health care bill, "They will have destroyed their party as much as Lyndon Johnson shattered the Democratic Party for 40 years" by passing civil rights legislation. 

If Gingrich thinks that defeating health care reform and eliminating discrimination and segregation are not moral and constitutional imperatives for a democracy but rather something to be left alone because it's politically risky, he is morally and politically bankrupt. Is that what the party that says it's for a "color blind" society is all about? If they win control again, is it back to Jim Crow?

The struggle for health care reform showed a lot. It gave us another indication of what we are up against and fighting for. All democratic forces need to be aware that we face nothing less then an epic battle for the future of our nation, and we dare not fail.



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  • It is good to see your fear!

    Posted by boba luca, 03/30/2010 11:33pm (5 years ago)

  • i'm a lesbian... just recently out of a relationship with a person of a different race than myself (i'm caucasian) and both of us are involved in what you are calling the 'tea party movement'. actually, we're just regular, normal people who want our freedoms back in this country. it has nothing to do with race, or homophobia, or any other slanderings. it is only about freedom!
    i'm sorry that you can't see that a few are corrupting the name of the bad. the same was done to the over-zealous activists of the 60's..and other eras, and other causes. to clump all freedom loving American's into a pile and call us racists, sexists, and homophobes is as ridiculous and dangerous as any other stereotypes. profiling, as you have just done, is what i thought people like Dr. Martin L. King fought AGAINST. i thought we were to see each other as equals, not name-calling, slandering, biased, closed-minded, stereotyping 'groups'. how disappointing that so much has been done and you have, in one article, destructed so much. sigh.....

    Posted by gene, 03/29/2010 8:03pm (5 years ago)

  • the master-slave mentality is "born into" americans

    this is not the '60s

    laws are not inforced

    in the '50s..."in God we trust" was inplanted in a pledge to a flag

    what happened to the christian book Bible Exodus 20???

    thanx for your articles

    PS buy the way it is still a HEALTH RACKET... NOT fixed but Obama did the best he could...if these paople would only LEARN from others....Tiawan, France, Switzerland,Germany, etc, etc,....

    Posted by j. h, 03/29/2010 3:29pm (5 years ago)

  • I would also suggest that there seems to be a total lack of an educated Tea-Party position that has caused the tremendous amount of bigotry in the debate over the healthcare reform.

    The fact of the matter is these folks claim to be patriots and get their "facts" from Fox News shows just how poorly they understand both the Federal Government and the Tea Party Movement which is sponsored by Rightwing Corporate moguls like Dick Army, a very conservative and wealthy former Senator of the Republican party.

    The Tea Party movement reminds me of the Brown Shirts in Nazi Germany and seem to have taken a page out of the book written by Joseph Goebbels. I fear for this Country as a result of these rightwing lunatics.

    Posted by Tommytoons, 03/29/2010 12:16pm (5 years ago)

  • M-K,

    Do you think that what some ridiculous fringe groups did in the 1960s justifies or in some way mitigates the disgusting racism of the party movement? Also, don't for a moment mix them up with the very good, decent and heroic movement led by people like Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., the mainstream of the anti-war movement, etc.

    The fact that such racism exists in our society, even today, is shocking and should serve as a wake up call.

    Your friend waiting for a long time in Ireland: do you think that people in the U.S. don't already have to wait a long time, the same way your friend did? The difference is that in the U.S., where we have some of the best health care but the worst health care system in the industrialized world, is that some people have the "privilege" of waiting and millions have no access to health care at all.

    Thanks to the Democratic leadership, and more importantly to the hundreds of thousands of people who fought for reform, the U.S. has just taken the first step on a longer road to universal health care.

    Posted by Dan M, 03/29/2010 12:12pm (5 years ago)

  • yes mary kathryn and if u read some working class press and not the big business media (fox ny times talk radio hannity nbc etc ) u would no that the communist and workers movements have condemned these anarchistic acts since the days of karl marx. her questioning of tyner's accurate analysis sounds like the white woman in montgomery ala in 1955 asking her black maid if there was a problem of segregation. in solidarity jim

    Posted by jim, 03/27/2010 1:58pm (5 years ago)

  • We could add anti immigrant or "nativist"/anti Latino to the list. The LA Times front page showed tea baggers at the Capitol with various placards, one said something like Obama is an illegal immigrant.

    Posted by Rosalio Munoz, 03/27/2010 10:29am (5 years ago)

  • jarvis nice to see you have shed your own homophobia.

    Posted by Barb, 03/26/2010 9:03pm (5 years ago)

  • Mr. Tyner,

    You look about my age. Do you not remember the Progressives of the 60s? I do. They broke the glass doors at St. Louis University. They disrupted classes. Classes were cancelled due to the threats and violence of these Progressives. My education was interrupted.

    This was meek compared to what happened on other campuses.

    They were mean, insulting and intimidating. They became very physical. Not a fun time.

    They also lied and manipulated and had little concern for anyone but themselves.

    I guess lying is part of the Progressive structure. You know, I wonder if these lies that Progressives tell are really just the Progressives trying to convince themselves that they really ARE doing something good for people - even though social health care has proven to be a disaster time and time again. Just ask my cousin who spent a painful month in a hospital bed in Ireland waiting for the machine that was in another hospital to be free so that he could have a test.

    Ah! the joys of socialized medicine!

    Posted by Mary Kathryn , 03/26/2010 8:21pm (5 years ago)

  • Now, now, now, Mr Tyner, your opinion is one thing, but where are the solid facts? Only hearsay?
    As an English teacher for the last 30 years, I would give your story an A+ for the use of the literary device of Hyperbole!! Congratulations.
    Please be careful - slander is a very dangerous proposition.

    Posted by Mary Kathryn Victor, 03/26/2010 8:08pm (5 years ago)

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