February 08, 2010

Teabaggers = Indians?!

It started with King George III

Americans' distrust of government has deep roots.

By Gregory Rodriguez
The movement's very name has a lot to say about how emotional such discontent is. Think back to your grade school lessons about the Boston Tea Party and remember its carnivalesque aspects. The conspirators that night painted their faces and dressed up as Mohawk Indians. As University of Michigan historian Philip J. Deloria points out in his book, "Playing Indian," the dress-up part of the party wasn't only about masking identities; it was about exercising New World liberty, which would become a fundamental part of forging a new collective identity as Americans.

The Tea Party wasn't the only instance in which colonial whites acted out in Indian disguise. To these revolutionaries, Deloria writes, "Indianness lay at the heart of American uniqueness." Donning feathers and darkening their faces, they symbolically proclaimed their separation from the mother country. And what did they think the Indian costume meant to the representatives of King George? Unconstrained, even aboriginal, freedom.

That would be a breakthrough on a therapist's couch. From the very beginning, to go with our legitimate fear of tyranny, we've idealized an end to all authority.

In a 1923 essay on U.S. literature, British novelist and poet D.H. Lawrence ridiculed the American fetishization of liberty as a source of perennial tantrums. "Somewhere deep in every American heart," he wrote, "lies a rebellion against the old parenthood of Europe. Yet no American feels he has completely escaped its mastery." To Americans, he went on, liberty means "the breaking of all dominion."
Comment:  Rodriguez's analysis of the Indian role is valid as far as it goes. I made similar points in The Political Uses of Stereotypes--also based on Philip J. Deloria's Playing Indian.

Some links on Tea Parties and Indians:

Another phony Indian teabagger
"Indians" at the Boston Tea Party
Real Indian at tax protest
Teabaggers misuse Indian imagery

But Rodriguez ignores the many differences. The original Tea Partiers were fighting the imposition of taxation without representation. Today's teabaggers are complaining even though Obama has reduced taxes for most people.

The teabaggers came out of the woodwork soon after we elected Obama president. But the Bush administration (mis)managed the present recession. It eliminated the regulations that allowed financial gambling. It initiated the bank bailouts and other recovery measures. It created most of the soaring deficit. So why protest Obama and not Bush?

The teabaggers explained

The main difference is that the original Tea Partiers were white men protesting other white men. Today's teabaggers are white men protesting blacks, Latinos, gays, and anyone else who isn't a white Christian.

Return Of the Repressed? Birtherism, Homophobia, Racial Paranoia Rise To Surface At Tea Party Confab

By Zachary RothThe National Tea Party Convention, which wrapped up Saturday night with a televised speech by Sarah Palin, offered an outlet for some of the fouler strands of modern conservatism that had long been bubbling beneath the surface of the Tea Party movement.

Tea Party leaders had worked hard to keep the public face of the movement focused tightly on a small government, anti-tax message, largely steering clear of social issues, and appeals based explicitly on race. But this weekend, from the podium at Nashville's Gaylord Opryland Hotel, convention speakers espoused birtherism, anti-immigrant nativism, homophobia, Christian fundamentalism, and an apparent nostalgia for racially discriminatory barriers to voting.

Here's a quick recap:

• Joseph Farah, the publisher of the right-wing website WorldNetDaily.com, drew cheers from the crowd by questioning whether President Obama was born in the U.S.

• Tom Tancredo, the former Colorado Republican congressman, declared that the president was elected because "we do not have a civics, literacy test before people can vote."

• Roy Moore, the former Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court charged that by proclaiming a gay pride month, Obama "has elevated immorality to a new level."
Wow...a literacy test? I wonder which segment of the population Tancredo is targeting with that suggestion? Could it possibly be...minorities?

For more on America's origins, see Fun July 4th Facts and America's Cultural Roots. For more on the teabaggers, see The Evidence for Teabagger Racism and Decoding the Teabagger Code.

Below:  One of the 10 Most Offensive Tea Party Signs with Photos.

Pretty funny considering not a single conservative hypocrite protested this:

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