My, my, my. Where to begin?
Within the space of two weeks, the news cycle has treated us to one rich white cowpoke and one fabulously rich white octogenarian spouting racist rants about "the Negro" that would make a ku klux klan member blush with pride.
Oh, come on. Admit it. No matter which side of the racial divide you find yourself on, you have to admit that hearing such racist tirades spoken in public is music to your ears.
The Confederates among you celebrated the "bravery" of white dudes who would not be cowed by political correctness into towing the racial line. And by "Confederate," I don't mean the inhabitants of the Old South. Southerners never had a monopoly on denigrating an entire group of people based upon race alone. The desire to keep African-Americans out of neighborhoods, housing, churches, schools, employment, and political institutions and offices once dominated by white, anglo-saxon males was never, ever a monopoly enjoyed only by caucasians living south of the Mason Dixon line.
Heck, 40 years ago my little brother's best friend boasted that, by joining the Philadelphia Police Department, he'd be able to beat up blacks with impunity. Can't get much more Northern than Philadelphia.
And as for the non-racists among you, you who really do care more about character than melanin, who have twisted in agony every time some white schmuck yells "You lie!!" at our first black president, who have feared for President Obama's safety when militia wannabes come fully armed to his public appearances, who have bristled with anger every time a Republican governor wags her finger under the President's nose as though addressing an errant schoolboy, the recent incidents have vindicated your conviction that the new subset of Republicans known as the Tea Party is populated by racists.`
Many other U.S. presidents and political candidates have been excoriated with vitriolic sentiments comparable to those levied at President Obama. Heck, Alexander Hamilton was killed in a duel with arch rival Aaron Burr. Can't get much more vitriolic than murder.
But even that deadly argument was played out by "gentlemen" on a level playing field. Political differences, not class or racial distinctions, underlay the contest. Viewpoints, opinions, beliefs may have created a sharp divide, but no matter the issue, each contestant knew he was the societal equal of his opponent and commanded the respect due an equal.
In contrast, the Tea Party has made it abundantly clear that its membership occupies a higher social strata than President Obama. As a consequence, its members believe they may disrepect with impunity the man who they contend is disqualified by race to occupy the Oval Office. This belief is clearly evident in the insulting and racist signs and banners displayed by Tea Partiers at their rallies, which portray: Obama as a monkey and his spouse and children as a family of chimpanzees; a hangman's noose hanging from a tree, reminiscent of lynchings suffered by African-Americans; the White House as a plantation with Obama as its "massa"; Obama as a tribal witch doctor, complete with a bone through the nose and feathered adornments; calls to not "re-Nig" in 2012; cross burnings attended by white-sheeted KKK members; references to Obama as a "tar baby"; a business owner's sentiment that "I don't support the nigger in the white house"; a skunk, with the sentiment: The skunk has replaced the eagle as the symbol of the President. It is half black, half white, and almost everything it does, stinks."
Now that Cliven Bundy and Donald Sterling have been recorded expressing their real feelings on race, they have done what none of the above examples of racism accomplished: they have forced Fox News and its ilk to back pedal on the implicit succor and support they have been providing to racists inhabiting both the Tea Party and TeaPublicans. And that is something to be celebrated--even if short lived.