Tea Party not the party of Jim Crow

Among talking heads, politicians and political groups on the left, the popular narrative is that the Tea Party is either inherently racist or harbors sympathy for those who are. This seems a bit odd for a movement that selected Herman Cain, a prominent black conservative, in its first annual policy summit presidential straw poll. Or one whose champions include the likes of Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), a senator of Cuban descent. These ad hominem attacks only make people afraid of the movement itself and conceals its true ideals from being known.

A few short weeks ago, Rep. Andre Carson, D-Ind., decided he was not content with mere insinuations about racism within the Tea Party and simply came right out to accuse members of Congress who identify with the movement. According to Politico, Rep. Carson told a group of African-American congressmen that “some of them in Congress right now of this Tea Party movement would love to see you and me …. hanging on a tree” and referred to the actions of these Congressmen as “the effort that we’re seeing of Jim Crow.”

Despite the absurdity of his comments, Rep. Carson has thus far refused to apologize for the remarks, and why should he? The poor guy probably believes it.

The Tea Party, although not a homogeneous group sharing identical political and personal beliefs, is at its core very much Libertarian. That’s why it champions people such as Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX), who ran for president on the Libertarian ticket in 1988, as well as his son, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.).

The Tea Party’s chief goals are fiscal responsibility, a constitutionally-limited government and free markets. How can wanting people to be free from government coercion and plunder be considered racist?

The Tea Party’s ideals reject the very notion. Its philosophy sees people as individuals, not as collective groups. It acknowledges that no person of a given ethnicity is inferior to that of another and that people have rights because they are an individual, and not for any other reason.

It is important to understand that the “Jim Crow” that Rep. Carson refers to was not a product of limited government and free markets. Jim Crow refers to a set of laws — discrimination that was sanctioned and enforced by the state, not by free individuals left untouched by government interference. The Tea Party’s desire for limited government seeks to prevent situations where the state can sanction and compel immoral acts, not to promote them.

What has happened since the dissipation of Jim Crow laws and the social change that followed for decades is that the concept of racism has been completely turned on its head.

It is no longer racist to politically and financially favor one racial group over another, as long as racial minorities are on on the receiving end. The vision of modern anti-racists is that racial minorities, such as African-Americans and Hispanics, need help to attain racial equality and social justice.

In order for this to be achieved, they believe that a system of laws must be in place, which include progressive taxation, free credit, welfare schemes and affirmative action in order to level the playing field so that minorities can succeed.

Suddenly, everyone who disagrees with these political schemes are the new racists, and these people need to be slandered, derided and shouted down because clearly they have ulterior motives.

As Carson continues to smear the Tea Party by way of verbal attacks with no shred of evidence to support them, one should consider which political philosophy hinges on harboring racial resentments and causing dependency in order to buy votes, and which one espouses principled ideals that benefit all Americans, regardless of the meaningless color of their skin.

Steven Christopher is a graduate finance student in the C.T. Bauer College of Business and may be reached at [email protected].


      • Jim Crow was about the state standing idly by and allowing businesses and people to practice abject racism in "independently choosing" not to do business with people based on the color of their skin.

        Pee Tardiers are all about repealing the 14th amendment and all other laws that normally prevent the reestablishment of Jim Crow behavior in modern times. They call it "repealing government regulation" but what they mean is, allowing businesses to be racist once more.

        • You start out in 1954 by saying, "Nigger, nigger, nigger." By 1968 you can't say "nigger" — that hurts you. Backfires. So you say stuff like forced busing, states' rights and all that stuff. You're getting so abstract now [that] you're talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you're talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is [that] blacks get hurt worse than whites. And subconsciously maybe that is part of it. I'm not saying that. But I'm saying that if it is getting that abstract, and that coded, that we are doing away with the racial problem one way or the other. You follow me — because obviously sitting around saying, "We want to cut this," is much more abstract than even the busing thing, and a hell of a lot more abstract than "Nigger, nigger."
          –Lee Atwater, Reagan adviser and future RNC chairman, 1981

  • Oh for pete's sake. Who the hell let the neanderthal out of his cave and gave him a column?

    Racism can be seen EVERYWHERE at Tea Party rallies. It's present in the "get that muzlim niggar from kenya out of the white house" banners. It's present in the signage of the President done up as a zulu witch doctor, or with his family portrayed as a set of chimpanzees.

    It's present when you go to Tea Party-laden events with a date who happens to be latina, and a bunch of drunken racist rednecks in Tea Party Volunteer shirts start shouting "go back to mexico" at your back.

    You want to pretend you're about "fiscal responsibility" while insisting on wasting billions of dollars to put more and more guns on the border? Steven Christopher, you're nothing but a racist liar.

    • Did you even read the above section? I'm not exactly sure where Mr. Christopher was being a racist or a liar. I think you should look into the facts and actually read and understand something before you slander someones character.

    • You seem to be confusing the Tea Party movement with the anti immigration movement. Two separate things. Crying racism has lost it's sting. We now know now that you will cry racism untill we whites are all marched into camps and extreminated. But we will not go so quietly into the night. By the way, if and when that happens, who will then be the hosts for the paracites?

  • I consider the Tea Party Racist for the ads against Obama. I can understand if a group of people disagree with the president there's nothing wrong with that. What is wrong is comparing him to a monkey and comparing him to hitler. True enough maybe not all of the Tea Party is ignorant but far to many in the party are. Putting aside Race the Tea Party in my opinion is unwilling to comprise on legislative resolutions for our country. Democrats and Republicans alike have take action to comprise except the Tea Party. Any Party or group who is unwilling to comprise shouldn't be elected to congress. the 68% disapprove rating of the current members of congress is proof the American people feel the same way.

    • What ads do you mean? Are u talking about signs people bring to rallies? How can you hold an entire group responsible for that?

    • Would that make progressive organizations also racist, for comparing George W. Bush to a monkey and Hitler?

      I'd like to point out also that it was Democratic unwillingness to compromise on Medicare and Social Security reform that held up the debt ceiling vote, not Republicans refusing to compromise on revenues (because there have been revenue changing bills passed).

      • But do remember the government does not have revenues, it is called taxes and the government does not produce anything to sell.

      • Why would it be racist to compare someone to Hitler? Asinine, sure, but hardly racist.

        Comparing Bush to a chimp is equally dumb, but surely you can see the historically negative connotations of comparing Obama to an ape, right?

    • Bryden thinks that if you don't agree with him, you are ignorant. (the word is compromise, by the way) Compromise and not standing fast to principles is what got us to where we are now. You don't compromise with crooks.

  • I was actually in DC at the same time the Tea Party event there was being held around a year ago, the largest gathering to date for the movement, and saw virtually no racist or hateful banners or literature.

  • They're clearly not racist as a group- the left is utterly incompetent when it comes to accusations of racism. That being said the tea party very clearly is a silly anti-intellectual populist movement.

  • Jim Crow was very much undertaken by private businesses, and approved de facto and de jure by area governments. Elasticity in the law allowed it to proliferate, but it was not heavy-handed government. Southern state constitutions, drafted in the wake of the Civil War, are purposefully convoluted and constricting in order to limit government's perceived negative influence. When the Freedom Riders went through Mississippi, it wasn't Big Government that set their bus on fire or broke their bones.

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