Maybe I’m wrong and we do need a national “dialogue on race,” but my guess is that if Barack Obama figures out a way to turn the economy around and create some real paying jobs, a lot of this racial angst will disappear pretty quick. If you tune out the hottest parts of the Tea Party rhetoric and just focus on who these people are, what you’ll basically see are a bunch of middle-aged white people who spent their teens listening to Eddie Murphy albums and deep down are a lot more worried about their credit card debt than they are about ACORN taking over the government. Add a little more disposable income to that crowd and this whole debate will recede to tolerable levels. Or maybe not — but we can all hope, I guess.
Yeah, and if my aunt had balls, she’d be my uncle. No, really, turning the economy around and creating real paying jobs? That’s a pretty big “if” to hinge this scenario upon.
For once, I have to totally disagree with Taibbi. I don’t think this is just displaced anxiety over economic woes. As he seems to understand earlier in his post, oddly enough, this is a really deep psychological issue for the teabaggers, real lizard-brain stuff, this fear that the other races are taking away everything that’s rightfully theirs, and they’re either failing to stop it, or they’re being restrained from doing so by bleeding-heart liberals. I read something (don’t remember where) shortly after Katrina, when there were all sorts of stories about supposed looting, raping, murder, etc. floating around (and as it turned out, it looks like cops and vigilante rednecks were actually the ones taking advantage of the opportunity to kill people). The long and short of it was that whites have always lived in fear of blacks rising up and exacting revenge for slavery on them, dating back to the days of Toussaint L’Ouverture and Nat Turner at least, and that periodically, one thing or another will trigger another outburst of hysteria and projection, with whites typically lashing out in fear somehow, usually with violence. White people sure do love them some preemptive warfare.
On that note, it’s worth remembering that in fact, most of our shrill, moralistic, anti-drug hysteria came about as a result of whites noticing minorities indulging in these substances that had previously been seen as just another way to enjoy oneself (among civilized people, that is). It was really stunning to see front page articles in the New York Times from the 1920s soberly discussing the way cocaine transformed the Negro into a violent beast with almost superhuman strength whose only concern while under the influence was rapin’ him some white women. Always with the innocent white women being victimized! Some of the urban legends of the time, involving drug dealing minority gangs who kidnapped and trafficked in – you guessed it – our white daughters, who were turned into drug addicts and sold into prostitution, are almost too incredible to believe when you read them today.
The ’60s, then, represented a time when our children! happily consorted with those people! while indulging in those drugs!, not to mention men and women looking indistinguishable and refusing to play their role in continuing all we had worked for up to that point. I’m not sure it’s possible to overstate how much of a near-psychotic break this induced in a certain conservative mindset, one that will be around for another generation or two, at least.
So I think we could have been enjoying a renaissance of the postwar standard of living for the last few years, and the election of our first black president would have still led to the spectacle we see today. I guess we should just be glad that so far, rhetoric aside, actual violence has been almost nonexistent, unlike previous episodes of Honkies Gone Wild. Progress?