This is a shocking depiction of what we, the rational and intelligent, are up against. Teabaggers, a drag against the force of American social progress, represent a populist movement against one of the foremost prerequisites for a nation to qualify as First World: universal healthcare. They oppose “Obamacare” because of the well-spoken Harvard graduate proposing it, hate “lib’ruls” out of a misguided belief that egalitarian economic and social policies conflict with sexual morality, and they consistently vote against their own interests. They’ve accused Obama of being a racist, a terrorist, a Muslim, a czarist, and a communist. They don’t listen to reason. They don’t even understand their own positions, as the video above illustrates clearly. They take as divinely-revealed truth a tome that most of them have never read, of which nearly all of them possess only a translated version, and of which virtually all lack sufficient comprehension of its cultural context to interpret properly. (Question to ponder: after death, you’re either going to be thrown into eternal torture or divine rapture, based on a set of rules regarding faith and behavior. The “final exam”, death, will inevitably come, and could happen at any time– even tomorrow. Its stakes are infinitely high. Materials for study: a widely-available medium-sized book that would require a mere couple hundred hours to read properly. If you sincerely believe all of this; given the stakes, how can you not have read the book, cover-to-cover, several times?)
This is because they don’t respond to reason, but to passion. This is the fundamental difference between evangelical conservatives and urban, educated liberals. Passion, not a reasoned argument, is king: a man who enters a religious ecstasy, writhing on the floor and speaking in tongues, is a rock star to them. This is why a screaming, bitter, fat and drug-addicted demagogue like Rush Limbaugh is able to bring these people to hold passionately a set of positions, contrary to their own interests, that they don’t understand. This is why it’s easy to get them up in arms over “czars”. Throw some shit against the wall, and maybe it will stick. Throw shit against the wall hard, so hard it hits the wall loudly, and an army of bovine discontents will come to your assistance and make sure it sticks.
All this said, I don’t think the bovines are especially racist. Are many of them extremely bigoted? Sure; anyone would who believe in a God who would subject someone to eternal torture for disbelieving in Him, despite providing no objective proof of his existence, and considers such a God omnibenevolent, is a bigot. (Indeed, they’d probably argue for my damnation. I am a theist who practices Buddhist meditation and believes, as the early Christians did, in reincarnation. I also believe that Jesus was at least a bodhisattva but I am agnostic about his specific theological role.) They don’t like people who challenge their ideas or seem to threaten their way of life. And they are scared. However, I don’t think that the younger teabaggers, for the most part, are racist. David Brooks reported on the friendly interaction between many of the “tea party” protesters and the Black Family Reunion Celebration. Most of these people aren’t indignant that a black man is president; they’re angry that a black man who isn’t like them is president. When this man is highly intelligent, has a beautiful family, and seems to have impeccable personal and family values, they can’t attack him over an extramarital blowjob as they did Clinton; they have to make shit up.
Why do the teabaggers detest Obama, if they’re not racist? As they see it: He’s an elitist. He’s an illegitimate child, raised by his mother. He’s a Muslim. His wife (by Republican standards) wears the pants in his marriage. As fits nicely with the conservatives’ zero-sum worldview, his universal health care plan will require “death panels”. Most, if not all, of these points are objectively false. However, the teabaggers have been told these things with enough passion that they believe them to be true. A deliberate campaign has been waged to mislead the bovines into voting against their own interests, with passionate demagogues spouting blather that has nothing to do with reality. Fox News, genteel in comparison to Limbaugh or Beck, plays the “good cop” role by framing objective and settled matters as “debates”, further muddying the water: Was Obama born within the United States? Is global warming real, and if so, is it caused by humans? Does Michelle Obama hate white people? Evolution: solid science, or atheist propaganda?
Teabaggers are confused, frightened, religiously intolerant, benighted, xenophoic and small-minded. Some of them, indeed, are racist and have overtly racial motivations in opposing Obama. I just don’t think that most of them do. With over 85 percent of under-50 adults approving of interracial marriage, and that number close to 100% among 18- to 29-year olds, racism appears to be on its way out. I think many of these people have black friends (Christian blacks only, however) and plenty of non-racial (if illogical and often wrong) reasons for their opposition to Obama. While racism is certainly the traditional reason for poor whites to mobilize against their own interests, and a contributing factor to the success of the Southern strategy; I think it has been replaced, since the 1990s, by politico-religious fervor.
In the South Park episode, “With Apologies to Jesse Jackson“, Stan Marsh’s father Randy humiliates himself on national television, using a racial slur in the course of incorrectly solving a Wheel of Fortune puzzle. Stan, South Park‘s comedic straight man, hopes to clear the matter by saying “my dad isn’t a racist, he’s just stupid”. I would argue the same is true of teabaggers. Well, it’s mostly true. Specifically, most teabaggers aren’t racist; all of them are stupid.
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