Olbermann tells Tea Party movement: Beware fear’s racist temptation
In his latest Special Comment, Countdown host Keith Olbermann explores the relationship between fear and racism and encourages Americans who are distressed about the nation’s future to avoid political groups that appeal to their less noble inclinations.
Olbermann said he believes that “prejudice and discrimination still sit, defeated, dormant, or virulent, somewhere in the soul of each white man in this country. Sixty three years after Jackie Robinson and 56 after Brown vs. Board of Education and 46 after the Civil Rights Act and a year-and-a-half after the presidential election this is not a popular thing to say.”
This is also not a thing that should be true even as a vestige of our sad past. But it is. Discrimination is still all around us in so many ways, openly re-directed towards immigrants who are doing nothing more than following the path that brought my recent ancestors here and probably yours, too or focused on gays predicated on a mumbo-jumbo of biblical misinterpretations or leeching out still against black people in things like the Tea Party movement.
Olbermann opined on some of the reasons why many white Americans get so angry about President Obama.
Thus it has become fashionable —sometimes psychologically necessary — that when some of us express it we have to put it in code, or dress it up, or provide a rationalization to ourselves for it that this has nothing to do with race or prejudice, the man’s a Socialist and he’s bent on destroying the country and he was only elected by people who can’t speak English.
Or was it: he was only elected by guilty whites. The rationalizations of the racists are too many and too contradictory for the rest of us to keep them straight.
The whole of the “anger at government” movement is predicated on this. Times are tough, the future is confusing, the threat from those who would dismantle our way of life is real (as if we weren’t to some extent doing it for them). And the president is black. But you can’t come out and say that’s why you are scared.
The Countdown host questioned why the Tea Party movement seems to be almost entirely white: “How many black faces do you see at these events? How many Hispanics? Asians? Gays? Where are these people?”
White Tea Party members should ask themselves, Olbermann said, “Where are the black faces? Who am I marching with? What are we afraid of? And if it really is only a president’s policy and not his skin. Ask yourself one final question: Why are you surrounded by the largest crowd you’ll ever again see in your life that consists of nothing but people who look exactly like you?”
At Firedoglake, Blue Texan blogs, “The Teabaggers will no doubt whine about this Olbermann segment, but you didn’t hear boos when Tancredo and Farah gave their racist speeches in Nashville — you heard thunderous applause. Why is that?”
On the other side, In a Business & Media Institute blog, Jeff Poor complains, “If you apply Olbermann’s standard and use scattered anecdotal evidence to level a serious charge like racism, you can legitimately claim that the[r]e are racists on the president’s side. Kenneth Gladney, a black man, was allegedly beat up at a town hall by SEIU members back in August, as the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported on Aug. 7.”
“But such incidents are inconvenient for Olbermann, who concluded that Tea Party protesters are willing sheep that have failed to look at what they’re doing introspectively,” Poor adds.
This video is from MSNBC’s Countdown, broadcast Feb. 15, 2010.