Archive for April 2nd, 2010
Frank Rich believes that he has isolated the source of the anxiety and anger displayed by many Tea Party demonstrators: They see themselves as “white” and they feel the shifting demographics of the United States. Many of them are hurling invectives at civil rights hero John Lewis, a gay representative, Barney Frank and Emanuel Cleaver, an African American representative from Missouri.
The conjunction of a black president and a female speaker of the House — topped off by a wise Latina on the Supreme Court and a powerful gay Congressional committee chairman — would sow fears of disenfranchisement among a dwindling and threatened minority in the country no matter what policies were in play. It’s not happenstance that Frank, Lewis and Cleaver — none of them major Democratic players in the health care push — received a major share of last weekend’s abuse. When you hear demonstrators chant the slogan “Take our country back!,” these are the people they want to take the country back from.
They can’t. Demographics are avatars of a change bigger than any bill contemplated by Obama or Congress. The week before the health care vote, The Times reported that births to Asian, black and Hispanic women accounted for 48 percent of all births in America in the 12 months ending in July 2008. By 2012, the next presidential election year, non-Hispanic white births will be in the minority. The Tea Party movement is virtually all white.
I’m sure that the Tea Party members would not appreciate my partial solution: Stop thinking in terms of “race,” and start thinking of yourself as African, no matter who you are (here’s good evidence of your African heritage). Truly, we should really embrace our common African heritage, and focus instead on the shocking same-ness of human beings. Then we’ll have one fewer idiotic reason for hating each other. With regard to the gay “problem,” Tea Party members need to get serious about biology. Same sex relations are ubiquitous among many other species of animals, not just human animals. Almost everything about us is something we share with most other humans. It is critical that we start thinking in those terms. Though he has done some highly questionable things in his life, I do believe that Bill Clinton got it exactly right during this 2007 speech.