So the NYT published an article bashing the Tea Party. Then they got a bunch of complaints so they updated their story to add allegations of racism. They didn’t include any proof, because everybody knows the Tea Party was racist. Amirite?
“In the late summer of 2009, as the recession-ravaged economy bled half a million jobs a month, the country seemed to lose its mind,” The New York Times says, kicking off its tenth anniversary retrospective of the Tea Party movement. As you can imagine, the rest of the article continues in this vein, portraying conservatives who organized against Obamacare as a bunch of vulgar radicals.
Yet even this revisionism wasn’t enough for most contemporary leftists, who see everything through the prism of race.
“A fundamental flaw in this analysis is there is no mention of race and how much racism drove the Tea Party movement,” ABC’s Matthew Dowd claimed. “You can’t talk about the rage politics and leave out race.”
“This @jwpetersNYT retrospective on the Tea Party’s ‘summer of rage’ ten years ago makes not a single, solitary reference to race or racism,” Rolling Stone’s Jamil Smith said. “Nor does it acknowledge the reality that a good deal of it involved opposing President Obama because he was black.”
“How do you write a 10 years later piece on the Tea Party and not mention – not once, not even in passing – the fact that it was essentially a hysterical grassroots tantrum about the fact that a black guy was president?” asked non-biased Washington Post reporter Wesley Lowery, calling it journalistic “malpractice.”
Well, you get the idea.
In the first draft of this piece, I joked that The New York Times might add a line about Tea Party “racism” before the day was over to placate the Twitter mob. They did it before I could even publish. But it doesn’t change the fact that there’s no evidence that a “good deal”—or any substantial deal, for that matter—of the Tea Party’s popularity was propelled by racism.
The wealthy white leader of Congress at the time was just as unpopular among Tea Partiers as the black president. And, as we’ve seen, if Hillary Clinton had won the 2008 election, she would have generated no less anger among conservatives.
It was Barack Obama’s leftist rhetoric and unprecedented unilateralism—he had, after all, promised “fundamental change”—that ignited what amounts to a renewed Reaganism; a fusing of idealistic constitutionalism and economic libertarianism. (These days, there’s an excellent chance that progs see both those -isms as inherently racist, as well.)
Tea Party protesters not only felt like they were under assault from Democrats but that they had been abandoned by the GOP establishment. That is why so many primaried white Republicans. If you really wanted to hear them “rage,” you could always bring up the former Caucasian and Republican president, George W. Bush, who had “abandoned free market principles to save the free market system.”
As with any spontaneous political movement, some bad actors glommed onto protests. The New York Times article, for instance, informs us that “one demonstrator at a rally in Maryland hanged a member of Congress in effigy” and that a “popular bumper sticker was ‘Honk if I’m Paying Your Mortgage’” – as if we’re supposed to be offended by the latter.
Most accusations of Tea Party racism are based on John Lewis’s accusation—dutifully repeated by most of the media without any skepticism—that someone had called him ugly names and spit on him when he and Nancy Pelosi strolled through protesters in front of the Capitol. Although there were cameras everywhere that historic day, no one was ever able to find any evidence to back up his claim.
None of this stopped Frank Rich, then a New York Times columnist, from boring into the collective soul of the movement, accusing it of engaging in “small-scale mimicry of Kristallnacht.” Joe Biden reportedly accused them of acting “like terrorists.” Tom Friedman referred to them as the “Hezbollah faction” of the GOP. It was, as one Democratic Party memo explained, “not really all about average citizens,” but an astroturf movement paid for by corporate lobbyists and populated by “neo-Nazis, militias, secessionists and racists.”
I will never forget the horror of those Tea Party riots in the Summer of 2009. The looting, burning, and killing left so many American cities devastated. We’ll never know the actual body count. It is no wonder that Occupant Obama was compelled to unleash the IRS on the Tea Party groups seeking non-profit status. It was the only way to save democracy.