By Michael Kaufman
This is a message for all those tea party people who get upset when people call the tea partiers racists: If you are not a racist, why doesn’t it seem to bother you that you have racists in your movement? Why don’t you condemn the racists in your midst or at least dissociate yourselves from them? They give your movement a bad name…or don’t you care?
You can’t tell us they aren’t there. We see their signs and placards–racist images, misspellings and all–whenever we see pictures of your rallies in the newspapers and on TV…even on Fox News. Maybe you see them too. Maybe they don’t bother you so much.
Did it bother you when you saw your fellow tea partiers shouting the “n-word” at United States Representative John Lewis (D-GA) as he walked to the Capitol building during the debate on health care reform? That gave me a chill because I remember what happened to him in Selma when he marched for civil rights in the 1960s. Maybe you don’t remember.
I guess Sarah Palin, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Glen Beck, Mark Levin, et al, don’t remember either. Or they just don’t care. You know, “they” use that n-word a lot themselves in their rap music so what’s the big deal if white people use it once in a while? Chris Rock answers that question a lot better than I can. So if you ever feel like taking a break from talk radio and Fox News some time, check out his explanation on Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1HMRN__XOYA
After you’re done watching Chris Rock, I suggest you work on your spelling. The Christian Science Monitor recently ran some photos from tea party rallies around the country that made lovers of good language cringe. Ironically, a lot of the signs that butchered the English language were carried by white folks who don’t like the idea that some people in this country speak Spanish. A sign calling on Americans to “boycott Mexico” proclaimed. “Respect Are-Country Speak English”
One sign denounced health-care reform, calling it, “One Hugh Mistake.” Another announced, “Not An Extremist, Just Extremey Overtaxed!!! No Amesty.” “Feedom Doesn’t Come Free,” said a placard held by a white teenager. A patriotic white man wearing a hat and shirt that was red, white, and blue with white stars, was captured in the midst of writing his masterpiece: “Birth Certifict Where Obama…”
A smiling young blonde woman held a sign that declared, “Obama Has a Crisis of Competnce.” Another demanded, “Repeel Congress.” And last but not least was a sign that said, “Thank You Fox News for Keeping Us Infromed.” You can see the whole appalling display at http://www.csmonitor.com/CSM-Photo-Galleries/In-Pictures/Copyediting-Tea-Party-protest-signs
But frankly I am far more appalled at the racism than the bad spelling. Not long ago I received an email from Dr. Michael Franzblau, who provided details about the health-care system in Nazi Germany for a recent post. Dr. Franzblau is a hero of mine. He lost 25 relatives on one horrific day during World War II. Nazis locked his family members in their synagogue in Poland, set it on fire and shot those who tried to escape. “I live with the thought of the Holocaust every single day of my life,” says the retired dermatologist.
Years later, during research on medical ethics, Franzblau stumbled upon the case of Hans Sewering, a German doctor and Nazi SS member, who helped implement Hitler’s plan for a master race by sending 900 disabled children from the sanitarium where he worked to a killing center. Dr. Franzblau made it his life’s mission to bring Sewering to justice and he led a successful campaign to force Sewring’s resignation after he was inexplicably named president of the World Medical Association. “I see this man as embodying everything evil that ever took place in my lifetime, as his behavior as a doctor,” said Franzblau.
So when Michael Franzblau has something to say, I pay attention. And here is what he wrote about the racism of some tea partiers and those who use images of President Obama with a Hitler mustache to protest health-care reform: “Joseph Goebbels would be delighted with the dangerous distortion of the facts concerning the truth about Nazism. I am 83 and a veteran of WWII. I never thought that overt attacks on people of color would be tolerated again in the United States.”
But tolerated they are, especially by the personalities at Fox News, who do such a wonderful job of keeping their viewers “infromed.”
Michael can be reached at Michael@zestoforange.com.