Washington Post: Tea Party Not Racist After All

The Washington Post looks around and discovers that the Tea Party isn't racist after all. Their bad, I guess.

Only two weeks before the 2010 elections, The Washington Post is out with a report saying that all those previous reports about concerns that the Tea Party movement was a hot bed of racial resentment weren’t really based in fact after all:

A new analysis of political signs displayed at a tea party rally in Washington last month reveals that the vast majority of activists expressed narrow concerns about the government’s economic and spending policies and steered clear of the racially charged anti-Obama messages that have helped define some media coverage of such events.

Emily Ekins, a graduate student at UCLA, conducted the survey at the 9/12 Taxpayer March on Washington last month by scouring the crowd, row by row and hour by hour, and taking a picture of every sign she passed.

Ekins photographed about 250 signs, and more than half of those she saw reflected a “limited government ethos,” she found – touching on such topics as the role of government, liberty, taxes, spending, deficit and concern about socialism. Examples ranged from the simple message “$top the $pending” scrawled in black-marker block letters to more elaborate drawings of bar charts, stop signs and one poster with the slogan “Socialism is Legal Theft” and a stick-figure socialist pointing a gun at the head of a taxpayer.

There were uglier messages, too – including “Obama Bin Lyin’ – Impeach Now” and “Somewhere in Kenya a Village is Missing its Idiot.” But Ekins’s analysis showed that only about a quarter of all signs reflected direct anger with Obama. Only 5 percent of the total mentioned the president’s race or religion, and slightly more than 1 percent questioned his American citizenship.

Ekins’s conclusion is not that the racially charged messages are unimportant but that media coverage of tea party rallies over the past year have focused so heavily on the more controversial signs that it has contributed to the perception that such content dominates the tea party movement more than it actually does.

“Really this is an issue of salience,” Ekins said. “Just because a couple of percentage points of signs have those messages doesn’t mean the other people don’t share those views, but it doesn’t mean they do, either. But when 25 percent of the coverage is devoted to those signs, it suggests that this is the issue that 25 percent of people think is so important that they’re going to put it on a sign, when it’s actually only a couple of people.”

Of course, this does lead to the question of why it took a graduate student from UCLA to uncover these facts rather than a media that has been covering the Tea Party protests for over a year and, inevitably, concentrating on the one or two examples of extremists in the audience, or perpetuating stories of racial animus when there is no evidence to support them.

Are there racists who’ve shown up at Tea Party rallies and said offensive things ? Yea, probably there are, but it’s fairly clear that they do not represent the vast majority of people who have spent the last year showing up at rallies, participating in campaigns, and voting. Many of them are people who’ve never participated in politics much beyond voting. They’ve been motivated to get involved by things they thing have gotten out of control, like government spending. Would it have been nice if they’d complained a little louder when George Bush was doubling the National Debt in eight years ? Yes, but they’re active now, and that’s a good thing. If they succeed in keeping the Republican Party honest, then they’ll have actually accomplished something.

It’s nice to see The Washington Post finally actually acknowledging that these American citizens aren’t racists. Too bad they didn’t do so sooner.

FILED UNDER: Tea Party, US Politics
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Brummagem Joe says:

    “Are there racists who’ve shown up at Tea Party rallies and said offensive things ? Yea, probably there are,”

    I wonder if you actually read the article Doug. It’s an analysis of signs at one rally which took place in Washington. Basically this “survey” proves zippo one way or the other as its author concedes. I’ve never thought racism was the dominant theme of the tea party crowd but based on the collective evidence of the last 18 months there’s obviously a significant if indeterminate amount of it around.

  2. Links to that 18 months of collective evidence Joe?

    I know plenty of people who’ve got to these rallies. They’re not racists, and it’s been pretty ridiculous to hear the media, and people like yourselves try to smear them with the label just because they dare express opposition to an African-American President.

  3. john personna says:

    So statistical sign analysis would miss that at least one leader had to step down over this?

    Tea Party Express spokesman resigns after racist blog post

    Stuff like that. And call me old fashioned, but I think it’s “yeah.”

  4. john personna says:

    oops, i put in “v” instead of control-v paste 😉

    http://articles.latimes.com/2010/jul/24/nation/la-na-tea-party-20100724

  5. Pete says:

    Yes Joe, prove your assertion with facts. How about Michael Reynolds, Tano, anjin-san and the other lefties who have implied, if not asserted , that the Tea Party is racist? Wonder what weaseling rebuttal they will come up with.

  6. One person does not a racist movement make.

  7. Brummagem Joe says:

    Doug Mataconis says:
    Friday, October 15, 2010 at 09:01
    “Links to that 18 months of collective evidence Joe?”

    I was obviously imagining thing as I’ve watched TV on an off over the last year or so but, perhaps not, since didn’t you say exactly the same thing above? And since I said racism wasn’t a dominant theme I don’t where the smearing occurred. I’m just realistic about it and not trying pretend it’s entirely absent when it very clearly isn’t.

  8. Brummagem Joe says:

    “One person does not a racist movement make.”

    Well since the author of this “scientific” analysis says about 6% of signs had racial themes it’s hardly one person is it?

  9. I was responding to John’s post about the leader of one (as it turns out relatively minor) organization.

    If you’re willing to concede that the Tea Party movement is not predominantly racist, then I’m not sure what we have to argue about this morning.

  10. Pete says:

    JP, so what? One leader or three or four. So what? The Tea Party cannot possibly be as pure as you think they must be. You jokers are really embarrassing: when your wild assertions are finally proven to be more speculation than fact, you scurry around looking for anecdotal evidence to support your BS, rather than graciously admit you could have been mistaken.

  11. Franklin says:

    Well since the author of this “scientific” analysis says about 6% of signs had racial themes it’s hardly one person is it?

    Just to be accurate, the articles says 5% (not 6%) mentioned race or religion, not just race.

    Still, it’s a bit more than I would expect. If I was attending a Tea Party rally as a sympathizer, I would certainly like to think I would ask those people to put their signs away and that racism is not to be tolerated.

  12. Pete says:

    I’m with you, Franklin. Protests attract any number of extremists; left or right. The assertions made by the lefties who comment here are more evidence that extremists also are attracted to blog sites.

  13. anjin-san says:

    Pete – If I remember correctly just the other day you are the one who was telling us Obama’s success at Harvard was the result of affirmative action.

    If you can prove that assertation, please do. If you can’t, graciously admit you could have been mistaken.

    If you can’t do either of those things, it is not unreasonable for me to suspect you are a bit of a racist…

  14. Tim says:

    One has to question what a “racist theme” is. I had one person report to me that he thought a racist sign was one that read: “Somewhere in Kenya a village is looking for its idiot.” Is that racist, or is it just cleverly calling Obama an idiiot? If that’s part of the 5%, I’d say the actual amount is maybe 1 person in a crowd of 100. Tough to make even a considerable amount out of that, much less a predominant amount.

  15. Brummagem Joe says:

    Doug Mataconis says:
    Friday, October 15, 2010 at 09:14
    ‘If you’re willing to concede that the Tea Party movement is not predominantly racist, then I’m not sure what we have to argue about this morning.’

    I’m not arguing about anything just pointing out some caveats that need to be applied to this fairly meaningless piece of “research.” You were the one who started accusing me of smearing people.

  16. Brummagem Joe says:

    “Just to be accurate, the articles says 5% (not 6%) mentioned race or religion, not just race.”

    Plus another 1% that were birtherism themed. Er…Just to be accurate. And obviously in a setting like this most people are going to be on their best behavior. I don’t say it the tip of the iceberg but it’s definitely a tip of somewhat indeterminate size.

  17. john personna says:

    “One person does not a racist movement make.”

    Would you say something that dumb in court? lol.

    Maybe if I was offering a statistical study, with a result count of 1, that come back would make sense.

    Here’s another one:

    Dale Robertson, a Tea Party activist who operates TeaParty.org, is getting stung for an old photo — taken at the Feb. 27, 2009 Tea Party in Houston — in which he holds a sign reading “Congress = Slaveowner, Taxpayer = Niggar.”

    I guess now you can say (trying a “strike” tag here):

    One Two persons does not a racist movement make.”

  18. JKB says:

    The amusing part is this desperate attempt by the MSM to try and save some semblance of value after they backed the wrong horse. But memories and the internet survive. Everyone remembers who was doing the journeyman’s work for the “progressives” and promoting the smears. Everyone also knows the first chance they get they’ll go back to the lies and fifth column support of the Dems.

  19. Tano says:

    What a silly story this was. Focusing on the more inflammatory (and hence more newsworthy) sings or events at these kind of rallies is just what the news media has always done.

    Most demonstrations historically, have been lefty ones. And when the photographs appear in the various media sites, it is always the more dramatic signs, the ones that catch the eye, often by saying the more outrageous thing. When has there ever been a followup story claiming that the demonstrators really were a bunch of peaceful grannies?

    To the underlying issue though, this is a total strawman argument. No one ever claimed that tea party events were mass lynching parties, where everyone, or nearly everyone in the crowd was a bug-eyed, drooling zombie carrying a noose in one hand and crudely worded racist sign in the other.

    To claim, as some have, that the animus toward Obama comes in part from a xenophobic reaction, or even an explicitly racist sentiment, does not imply that all tea partiers are so motivated, nor does it imply that everyone who is so motivated will scrawl that motivation on a sign that they carry in public.

    In other words, the underlying premise of this “survey” is deeply flawed – that the signs that are carried in public, on the Mall, are clear windows into the psychological core of the protester. Even then though, there was a 5% racist content to the signs – which seems high enough to be a legitimate story.

  20. john personna says:

    JP, so what? One leader or three or four. So what? The Tea Party cannot possibly be as pure as you think they must be. You jokers are really embarrassing: when your wild assertions are finally proven to be more speculation than fact, you scurry around looking for anecdotal evidence to support your BS, rather than graciously admit you could have been mistaken.

    I don’t think everyone in the Tea Party is a racist, or even that a majority are. There are just enough to make it “a fair cop.”

    It’s enough for you to take some lumps on it – especially if you don’t take the high ground each time, to say “racists are bad, but that’s not what’s good in the Tea Party.”

    That’s all it would take for you to come out higher on this.

  21. Dale Robertson was never a “tea party leader”

  22. john personna says:

    So now you are deciding leaders, Doug?

    Do you have standing within the Tea Party to do that?

  23. A loosely affiliated populist movement by definition does not have “leaders”

  24. Brummagem Joe says:

    “Everyone also knows the first chance they get they’ll go back to the lies and fifth column support of the Dems.”

    The Paranoid Tendency lives

  25. Do you have standing within the Tea Party to do that?

    Do you ?

  26. george says:

    “And obviously in a setting like this most people are going to be on their best behavior. I don’t say it the tip of the iceberg but it’s definitely a tip of somewhat indeterminate size.”

    Actually these kinds of things bring out the worst, not the best behavior. Look at the recent anti-G8 demonstrations in Toronto. Most leftists don’t burn cop cars and break shop windows to make a point, but its common in demonstrations, left and right, because there’s a kind of anonyminity in being in such big groups of like minded people. Both left wing and right wing demonstrations bring out extreme people, and encourage them to act in extreme ways.

  27. john personna says:

    So a “loosely affiliated populist movement” which doesn’t have “leaders” wouldn’t have to worry about what any of them say, right?

    Brilliant.

    This guy snagged “TeaParty.org” and helped get things going, but we don’t have to worry about him.

    Brilliant.

  28. Buying a domain name does not make one a leader.

    I’ve talked to literally dozens of people who’ve been involved in the movement from the start, and none of them have ever seen him at a national event. He’s a crank.

  29. john personna says:

    Well, he’s ousted now, as he should be. That was a good and proper move by the Tea Party. I’ll give them credit for that.

  30. Brummagem Joe says:

    george says:
    Friday, October 15, 2010 at 10:22

    Not necessarily. The tea party do in Washington could have turned ugly but didn’t because the organizers weren’t stupid enough to let that happen in full view of cameras. The same is true of “liberal’ demos like most those huge marches against the Iraq war. It’s impossible to generalize. I’ve absolutely no doubt whatever that at the Washington event everyone was on their best behavior and if they hadn’t been they’d rapidly have been removed by the organizers.

  31. Brummagem Joe says:

    Doug Mataconis says:
    Friday, October 15, 2010 at 10:11
    “A loosely affiliated populist movement by definition does not have “leaders”

    Yeah right Doug. So who books the buses?

  32. And who paid for the buses to Ed Schultz’s little rally in DC early this month?

  33. Brummagem Joe says:

    “And who paid for the buses to Ed Schultz’s little rally in DC early this month?’

    probably the “Leaders” of his little movement.

  34. probably the “Leaders” of his little movement.

    You mean union leaders who get paid six-figure salaries while pretending to care about the “ittle people”

  35. george says:

    “Not necessarily. The tea party do in Washington could have turned ugly but didn’t because the organizers weren’t stupid enough to let that happen in full view of cameras. The same is true of “liberal’ demos like most those huge marches against the Iraq war. It’s impossible to generalize. I’ve absolutely no doubt whatever that at the Washington event everyone was on their best behavior and if they hadn’t been they’d rapidly have been removed by the organizers.”

    The same is arguably true for the anti-G20/G8 demonstrations in Toronto, the similar one in Seatle years ago. The organizers tried to keep people on their best behavior, but people going to these things, on both sides, tend to be individualists who don’t like to be told what to do.

    You’re always going to have 5-10% of people at any event who are going to do what they want to do. What’s interesting is the spin – both sides play down what happens at theirs (just a few bad unrepresentative elements) while playing up the bad at the other sides (everyone on their best behavior). I’d argue that what’s seen in demonstrations on all sides actually has very little to do with what 99% of the supporters on either side are like. It takes a different kind of mind set to go out to a demo in the first place, to carry a sign or break a shop window … these are not typical people, even if both sides like to pretend they’re representitive of the ‘other’.

    Most Tea Partiers and most liberals work with each other, interact with each other, are friends with each other without any problems at all. Its only those radical enough (again on both sides) to carry signs and join demonstrations that have the extreme views that makes for such good press and generalizations.

  36. Pete says:

    Anjin-san, to assert means to state forcefully. I did not assert anything about Obama and affirmative action. As I recall, I said, “Can you say Affirmative Action?’ This was a suggestive question responding indirectly to the commenter wondering how Obama got into Harvard. A perfectly reasonable question. Now as all you libs try to do whenever any criticism of Obama is put forth, you try to muddy the waters with unfounded cries of racism.

  37. john personna says:

    So Pete, did you just “allude” and hope that people would make the connection? 😉

  38. Pete says:

    Perhaps I did. So what? Am I racist for doing that?

  39. john personna says:

    Well, to avoid the implication, it’s probably better not even to mention Affirmative Action in that context.

  40. Brummagem Joe says:

    Doug Mataconis says:
    Friday, October 15, 2010 at 11:04

    “You mean union leaders who get paid six-figure salaries while pretending to care about the “ittle people”

    So what are those men of the people Dick Armey or Karl Rove making do you reckon Doug? More than you or me I’ll be bound.

  41. JKB says:

    Yeah right Doug. So who books the buses?

    Well, now I didn’t attend but a lady friend of mine did. She and the others who attended the Tea Party events in DC, paid for their seats on the bus and their hotel rooms themselves. The bus itself was arranged by the local tea party group for interested people to travel together to the event.

    It wasn’t a matter of just showing up. Those wishing to attend had to come up with the cash a month in advance.

  42. Brummagem Joe says:

    “The same is arguably true for the anti-G20/G8 demonstrations in Toronto, the similar one in Seatle years ago. ”

    Of course it is which is why I said you can’t generalize. But I’d have thought in this omnipresent media age you don’t have to be Einstein to figure out most individuals and organizers at these sort of events are going to cap their conduct. And yes I agree with you that at any event you have 10% trouble makers. In fact my guess is that this probably the size of racist element in the tea party crowd. Maybe a little more. Clearly not a majority but not negligible either.

  43. Pete says:

    Jp, why? If he got into Harvard because of Affirmative Action and not just SAT scores and HS class position, why shouldn’t it be mentioned? Are you suggesting AA is some sort of stigma better left not discussed?

  44. Brummagem Joe says:

    JKB says:
    Friday, October 15, 2010 at 12:07

    “It wasn’t a matter of just showing up.”

    Er no. Even to assemble and manage quite modest crowds takes quite a lot of organisation. None of this is spontaneous.

  45. Pete says:

    Joe, so 10% or more is racist in the Tea Party. If so, why are people like Michael Reynolds so convinced the Tea Party is racist? I think it is because he is intellectually lazy and has a strong bias against conservatism.

  46. john personna says:

    “If he got into Harvard because of Affirmative Action…”

    Come on Pete. If you don’t know and aren’t informing us then you are just counting on the darker human nature of some of y to draw the cruelest conclusion.

    The adult way to discuss this is to separate the issues. If you think Obama is a dummy and undeserving of a Harvard education, stand up and make that argument. If you think (as I do) that race-based Affirmative Action is past its prime, and that family-income based criteria should prevail, make that argument.

  47. JKB says:

    Pete, I believe they are implying that in the absence of any scholastic record for either prep school or undergraduate, we must not assume affirmative action but rather that Obama got into Harvard Law just as Elle Woods did, video application wearing a bikini.

    I believe less important than any racial-based preference in selection he might have received is who paid for his law degree?

  48. john personna says:

    “some of your readers”

  49. john personna says:

    No JKB, what I’m saying is that the fully unrolled version of Pete’s message is this:

    “Maybe Obama is a dummy and maybe he didn’t deserve to get into Harvard, so we can judge him more harshly.”

    It’s a child’s argument, based on “maybes”

  50. Franklin says:

    And obviously in a setting like this most people are going to be on their best behavior. I don’t say it the tip of the iceberg but it’s definitely a tip of somewhat indeterminate size.

    I wouldn’t necessarily agree with the first statement. People go to rallies for a reason, and some go over the top to get some attention.

    I would agree with the second statement. We just don’t know what percentage of the Tea Party is racist. It’s difficult to define racism anyway, and seemingly impossible to define a member of the Tea Party (social conservative or libertarian? everybody has a different answer).

  51. Brummagem Joe says:

    Pete says:
    Friday, October 15, 2010 at 12:14

    I don’t know who Mike Reynolds is so how can I explain his views. But conceptually you couldn’t say they’re not entirely without foundation if 20,000 in a 200,000 crowd are racist types.

  52. JKB says:

    Joe

    Er no. Even to assemble and manage quite modest crowds takes quite a lot of organisation. None of this is spontaneous.

    Well, I was commenting on the bus to attend the rally which doesn’t require much organization at all. Just one motivated soccer, or dare I say, hockey, mom and a cell phone.

  53. john personna says:

    BTW, one of the best reasons to get rid of race-based affirmative action is that people with those “maybe” arguments undermine the whole effort.

    Can you see that it’s sad? The value of a degree earned by a black person is undermined by those who say “maybe” they didn’t deserve it.

    Those people don’t have the self-control to reserve judgment until they actually meet the person and see their abilities. That lack of self-control is sometimes called “prejudice” from “pre-judge” and is related to “racism” on some level.

  54. Brummagem Joe says:

    Franklin says:
    Friday, October 15, 2010 at 12:28
    And obviously in a setting like this most people are going to be on their best behavior. I don’t say it the tip of the iceberg but it’s definitely a tip of somewhat indeterminate size.

    “I wouldn’t necessarily agree with the first statement. People go to rallies for a reason, and some go over the top to get some attention.”

    “Some” is NOT “Most.” The vast majority of individuals at these events have no desire to be seen by their friends and neighbors creating scenes, shouting obscenities, being arrested, etc. And the notion that the organizers want to avoid this sort of behavior being blasted across evening tv screens and will take steps to prevent it is fairly obvious. Ergo MOST people are going to be on their best behavior!!!!

  55. Brummagem Joe says:

    “Just one motivated soccer, or dare I say, hockey, mom and a cell phone.”

    yeah these folks just collect the money, book the buses, make all the signs, do crowd control. Easy.

  56. Steve Verdon says:

    Ahhh, the old guilt by association trick. Well played gentlemen….well played.

  57. john personna says:

    That’s politics, Steve. If we centrists or moderates had racists I’d have some covering to do 😉

    What’s the worst vice of moderates? Oh yeah, they are pragmatic. lol.

  58. sam says:

    Although it is not true that all Tea Party folk are racist, it is true that most racists are Tea Party folk.

  59. george says:

    “I don’t know who Mike Reynolds is so how can I explain his views. But conceptually you couldn’t say they’re not entirely without foundation if 20,000 in a 200,000 crowd are racist types.”

    So there were about 1000 people smashing windows, burning cop cars, and throwing things at the police in the G20 demonstrations, out of about 20,000 marchers. Does this mean you can say that a non-neglible proportion of liberals are violent? And is it safe to assume that more of the marchers would have behaved this way if they weren’t on their best behavior?

    These demonstrations cut both ways. The progressive groups have always maintained that the violent protesters aren’t representative, which is exactly what the Tea Partiers say about their racist elements. Perhaps both are lying – everyone on their best behavior in both cases. But I suspect its more likely that most people don’t smash windows or carry racist signs because they simply aren’t violent or racist.

  60. Brummagem Joe says:

    george says:
    Friday, October 15, 2010 at 13:51

    “Does this mean you can say that a non-neglible proportion of liberals are violent?”

    That’s right a non negligible proportion of liberals (and btw who says they were all liberals since a lot of conservatives are anti globalisation but for the sake of debate let’s assume they were ) are sometimes willing to resort to violence. Just as it’s highly likely a non negligible percentage of tea partiers are racists. Unlike you I go where logic takes me because I’m not trying prove racism is totally absent from the tea party movement. Or that at highly visible occasions it doesn’t behoove the extremists (rampaging anti globalists or racists) to be on their best behavior.

  61. john personna says:

    The G20 demonstrations were a weird catch-all. Some of those guys would have fought each other (more?) if they’d noticed what they were saying. But yeah, they definitely brought out some variety:

    looking to have their voices heard on a broad range of issues, from indigenous rights to anti-capitalist ideals, to human and animal rights, and much more

    I don’t think moderate questioners of globalization even went.

  62. john personna says:

    Heh, do indigenous rights folks and vegans really get along?

  63. mantis says:

    The problem with the Tea Party isn’t racism, it’s widespread ignorance about government, economics, and absolutely unrealistic thinking about, well, everything.

  64. michael reynolds says:

    Doug:

    This article doesn’t say what you say it said. This is not an isolated example of you bending reality for partisanship lately.

    I like you and like your writing, but this is just another example of you playing the good moderate Republican. You talk the independent, rational talk, but as we near election time you fall into line and embrace the very crazy you’ve spent so many pixels criticizing.

    You guys always do it. You want to be able to pass as rational with rational people. But in the end you vote with your tribe and reason be damned. This is nothing but you finding your way back to the snug comfort of your tribe.

  65. mantis says:

    You talk the independent, rational talk, but as we near election time you fall into line and embrace the very crazy you’ve spent so many pixels criticizing.

    Indeed.

  66. george says:

    “Unlike you I go where logic takes me because I’m not trying prove racism is totally absent from the tea party movement. ”

    So when I did say that?

    My argument is that what you see at demonstrations is actually more extreme rather than less extreme than what you see in the general population of any group (ie that people tend not to be on their best behavior). Logic as you are no doubt aware is the process of going from given assumptions or facts to a conclusion. However, if the assumption is wrong then the logic gives incorrect results. In a discussion such as this the required process is experimental science (ie what’s actually happening) rather than logic.

    Basically, we’re arguing about one of the base assumptions from which the deduction takes off. And I’ve seen no evidence (here or anywhere else) that suggests that what is seen at any kind of demonstration is better behaved than what is seen in private. I would guess that less than one in a thousand conservatives or liberals have ever marched in any kind of rally – it makes me cautious about making generalizations based up them.

    For my part, I’m part of the great unwashed in the center which dislikes both conservatives and liberals, and who finds that both tend to be hypocrites who criticise the other for doing the same thing as they themselves do. Another example, probably more to your liking, is how the conservatives claim the liberals to be in favor of big gov’t and a nanny state, and then turning around and asking for a big military (and military is definitely part of gov’t), and pushing for the nanny state in restricting drugs and morality.

    A lot of folks who don’t vote do so for that very reason – there’s little reason to trust either side, since they saw one thing and do another.

  67. Brummagem Joe says:

    michael reynolds says:
    Friday, October 15, 2010 at 14:22

    “You guys always do it. You want to be able to pass as rational with rational people. But in the end you vote with your tribe and reason be damned. This is nothing but you finding your way back to the snug comfort of your tribe.”

    Too true alas. A disappointment really and I’m not trying to be smart. I’ve always placed a high premium on intelligence (even when it’s a pain in the butt) and I automatically assume possessors of JD’s possess some. But over the last month or so Doug has definitely broken cover as a routine right wing tribalist and seems blissfully unaware of the increasing irrationality of his commentary. It must be the time of the year or something because Jim has also made a couple of odd pronouncements of late. Of course both of us could be confused about the basic presumptions underpinning this blog. I still enjoy it but irrationality is hard to handle.

  68. Brummagem Joe says:

    george says:
    Friday, October 15, 2010 at 14:41
    “So when I did say that?”

    Sorry but it rather looked that way. But then you made assumptions about me viz.

    “Another example, probably more to your liking, is how the conservatives claim the liberals to be in favor of big gov’t and a nanny state, and then turning around and asking for a big military (and military is definitely part of gov’t), and pushing for the nanny state in restricting drugs and morality.”

    I’m a rationalist basically. Most political systems have flaws, ours more than most, so I accept reality and don’t think opting out makes much sense. My assumption as you call it is fairly straightforward. That in any demonstration, of any size, about any highly emotive topic, there will be a minority of trouble makers and/or the merely unpleasant who may or may not start behaving badly depending on circumstances. One of the brakes on such behavior by individuals and organisers is the likelihood that such behavior in our instant media age will bring disrepute on their cause. This does not seem a particularly huge leap of logic to me based on observation of hundreds of demos over the years but apparently it is for you. Fine.

  69. george says:

    “My assumption as you call it is fairly straightforward. That in any demonstration, of any size, about any highly emotive topic, there will be a minority of trouble makers and/or the merely unpleasant who may or may not start behaving badly depending on circumstances. One of the brakes on such behavior by individuals and organisers is the likelihood that such behavior in our instant media age will bring disrepute on their cause. This does not seem a particularly huge leap of logic to me based on observation of hundreds of demos over the years but apparently it is for you. Fine.”

    The problem is you leave out another hidden assumption: the proportion of trouble makers going to an event is the same proportion as those in the general audience. With this your deduction follows. However, if that assumption is wrong, so that the trouble makers are considerably over represented at some events, that would more than offset the moderating effect of organizers. And that’s where our disagreement lies. Not in logic, but the base assumptions.

    Perhaps based on different experiences – for my part, almost everyone I know who went to any kind of protest was quite highly politicized, and so already quite far out of the mainstream – even the most moderate protesters were not representative of the general population, as evidenced by their actually taking the time and effort to go out and protest. I gather your experience is different. But here again what’s needed is sampling of individuals against a control group – its a population sampling issue rather than a logical one.

  70. Brummagem Joe says:

    george says:
    Friday, October 15, 2010 at 15:22

    “The problem is you leave out another hidden assumption: the proportion of trouble makers going to an event is the same proportion as those in the general audience.”

    Er no… that would be wrong for reasons that you yourself point out. Namely that by definition the people going to demonstrations are much more likely to be angered about the issue than the great mass of the public. Thus the incidence of trouble makers or those likely to have their passions over excited is almost certain to be greater than in the public at large. Thus my basic logic is only reinforced.

  71. george says:

    “Er no… that would be wrong for reasons that you yourself point out. Namely that by definition the people going to demonstrations are much more likely to be angered about the issue than the great mass of the public. Thus the incidence of trouble makers or those likely to have their passions over excited is almost certain to be greater than in the public at large. Thus my basic logic is only reinforced.”

    Actually no, since your deduction is that the amount of racist behavior in the Tea Party is as high or higher than what is demonstrated at the marches. But if the population attending such marches is the most politicized, then the amount of radicalism that appears will if anything be higher than in the general population, which is the opposite of your conclusion.

    Your deduction, unless I got it wrong, is that the amount of expressed racism is less than or equal to actual racism … ie the real problem will be greater than whats seen in the demonstrations.

    But the higher percentage of radical attendence suggests that the amount of expressed racism will be greater than or equal to the actual racism … ie the real problem will be less than whats seen in the demonstrations.

    If I misunderstood what you were saying – ie if you were arguing that racism was overrepresented at the marches, then I apologize.

    And it goes without saying that like violence, there is no acceptable level of racism. This is an argument about how representative marches and the like are, not whether any racism is acceptible.

  72. Brummagem Joe says:

    “Actually no, since your deduction is that the amount of racist behavior in the Tea Party is as high or higher than what is demonstrated at the marches……..Your deduction, unless I got it wrong, is that the amount of expressed racism is less than or equal to actual racism … ie the real problem will be greater than whats seen in the demonstrations. ”

    You got it wrong. I’ve said it was indeterminate but perhaps 10% was a reasonable guess and 10% of 200,000 people in one place at one time is not chopped liver. Whether it reflects a much larger presence of racism in the tea party movement is hard to say since what they believe is largely inchoate anyway and the racist element aren’t going to take out ads.

  73. george says:

    “You got it wrong. I’ve said it was indeterminate but perhaps 10% was a reasonable guess and 10% of 200,000 people in one place at one time is not chopped liver. Whether it reflects a much larger presence of racism in the tea party movement is hard to say since what they believe is largely inchoate anyway and the racist element aren’t going to take out ads.”

    I apologize then, my misinterpretation of what you were saying. Sorry for the interuption.

  74. Brummagem Joe says:

    george says:
    Friday, October 15, 2010 at 16:51

    Of course if you took Beck’s audience claims at face value he assembled 40,000 racists in one place. LOL

  75. anjin-san says:

    > you try to muddy the waters with unfounded cries

    Thats pretty good coming from you. What is the foundation for you rather chickens__t inference that affirmative action was part of Obama’s career at Harvard?

  76. Herb says:

    “If you’re willing to concede that the Tea Party movement is not predominantly racist, then I’m not sure what we have to argue about this morning.”

    If you’re willing to concede that some racists thought they’d find a comfortable home in the Tea Party, I’ll concede that the Tea Party did not prove to be such a comfortable home….

  77. An Interested Party says:

    “…who paid for his law degree?”

    Communists, socialists, terrorists, or some combination of all three, no doubt…

  78. anjin-san says:

    >You talk the independent, rational talk, but as we near election time you fall into line and embrace the very crazy you’ve spent so many pixels criticizing.

    I suspect that as a partial return to power for the GOP looms, the desire to catch crumbs falling off the table becomes overwhelming & toeing the party line a bit more closely suddenly seems like a good idea.

  79. EJ says:

    “Just to be accurate, the articles says 5% (not 6%) mentioned race or religion, not just race.”

    And from what iv’e personally seen most of that 5 percent was likely the religion part, not race.

    But regardless, what do you think think the percentage of signs durring the anti-war rallies consisted of anti-semetic themes and jewish 9-11 conspiracy memes? Im pretty sure if was at least 5 percent.

    Am I to conclude therefore that the driving force of the anti war protests and to anti war sentiment int he country at the time in general was based on hatred of jews?

    And I am someone who has been to both.

  80. Brummagem Joe says:

    EJ says:
    Saturday, October 16, 2010 at 10:58

    “But regardless, what do you think think the percentage of signs durring the anti-war rallies consisted of anti-semetic themes and jewish 9-11 conspiracy memes? Im pretty sure if was at least 5 percent.”

    Just like you’re “sure” all those signs had nothing to do with race? For those of us who have some doubts about your mind reading capacity you wouldn’t like to produce some evidence that 5% of the signs at those anti war rallies were anti semetic (sic)

  81. michael reynolds says:

    “But regardless, what do you think think the percentage of signs durring the anti-war rallies consisted of anti-semetic themes and jewish 9-11 conspiracy memes? Im pretty sure if was at least 5 percent.”

    Let’s accept the math for the moment.

    If a significant percentage of the signs are anti-semitic then yes, it does indicate a thread of anti-semitism. Here’s why: people read the room. Just as you don’t tell dirty jokes to a room full of children, or brag about your new Mercedes at the homeless shelter, you don’t wave anti-semitic or racist signs at a rally where you expect the room to be upset.

    People wave racist signs at Tea Party rallies because they have an expectation that such signs are appropriate. They read the room. Does that mean every anti-war protester is an anti-semite or every Tea Partier is a racist? No, of course not.

    Does it suggest very strongly that there is an air of tolerance for those positions? Yes.

    In point of fact there is a sort of neo-anti-semitism on the Left. And there is a definite strain of unreconstructed racism on the Right.

  82. Brummagem Joe says:

    “In point of fact there is a sort of neo-anti-semitism on the Left.”

    I guess this is why 80% of jews vote Democrat. There may be a sort of neo-anti-Zionism on the left but there’s precious little anti semitism. I can honestly say the only people I’ve ever heard making anti semitic remarks are the same people who two minutes later were making anti black or anti gay remarks and without exception they were very much bomb, bomb, bomb Iran Republican types. I was once on a sailboat with bunch of them for a week.

  83. michael reynolds says:

    Joe:

    I don’t think it’s just anti-zionism. I think it started there for the Left but extends well past it.

    Do I think it’s a major force on the Left? No. Do I think that many on the Left are so intellectually undisciplined that they don’t draw sharp lines between the government of Israel and Jews? Yes. And I think there’s a point at which criticism of Israel (or of the Neo-cons) becomes so automatic and reflexive that it bleeds into anti-semitism.

    And let’s not forget that elements of the old Left — I’m referring to the Soviet Communists — used anti-semitism in just the way that many on the Right tap into racism: as a subterranean, unacknowledged force that deepens group identity and allows lines to be drawn.

    However, I do not think Leftist anti-semitism today has anything like the force of Right-wing racism. Further, I’d point out that conservative Christian denominations for all their professed love of Israel have a core position — the damnation of Jews — that is staggeringly anti-semitic.

  84. Brummagem Joe says:

    “I don’t think it’s just anti-zionism. I think it started there for the Left but extends well past it.”

    Michael you’re saying there’s widespread anti semitism on the left if it “extends well past it.” Basically balls. There’s quite a lot of anti Zionism I believe but that’s something totally different. And I agree about the last point. All the “hymie” jokes I’ve ever heard came from rather obvious Republicans.

  85. george says:

    There are elements of anti antisemitism in the left. And the right. There are elements of racism in the right. And the left. No side is as pure as they’d like others to believe they are. A lot of politics boils down to trying to draw attention to the other side’s faults while hiding your own.

  86. Brummagem Joe says:

    george says:
    Saturday, October 16, 2010 at 18:22
    “There are elements of anti antisemitism in the left.”

    Like to give us some examples of anti semitism on the left as distinct from anti Zionism. And don’t bother with Louis Farrakhan or similar he is not on the left of the Democratic party. In fact a goodly number of people on the left of the Democratic party are Jewish (ever heard of Glen Greenwald?)…do you think they hang out with a bunch of anti semites?

  87. michael reynolds says:

    Joe:

    I thought this Wiki article was pretty good and balanced: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_antisemitism

    I don’t think it proves my point — it looks at the issue from a number of perspectives. I think it proves that my point is not an isolated opinion. Incidentally I’m Jewish myself, (despite the goyishe name), at least ethnically if not religiously.

    I think a fuller defense of my instinct on this would take more time than I have at the moment, and it may well be that I am misinterpreting or over-interpreting. Always a possibility. I don’t mean to weasel out of this debate, but I just don’t have the time to document my position.

  88. Brummagem Joe says:

    michael reynolds says:
    Saturday, October 16, 2010 at 20:48

    “I think it proves that my point is not an isolated opinion. ”

    Oh please Michael, all this piece which I read proves is that some people (basically Zionists and pro Zionists) contend that Anti Zionism = Anti Semitism. It doesn’t of course or why would many prominent Jewish commentators be amongst those speaking against what they perceive to be the excesses of Zionism. There’s no question there’s a lot of anti Zionism on the left but it ain’t anti Semitism.

  89. george says:

    “Like to give us some examples of anti semitism on the left as distinct from anti Zionism.”

    Well, there was Helen Thomas declaring that all Jews should leave Israel and the middle east because it was stolen land, while herself living in a stolen continent (ask any Native American). In fact, she was inviting them to join her in squatting on land stolen from others. If that’s not anti-semitism, its the next best thing … okay for others to steal a continent, not for the Jews to take a small slice of land. And she had some support (about 5%) for her views.

  90. Brummagem Joe says:

    george says:
    Sunday, October 17, 2010 at 10:45

    “If that’s not anti-semitism, its the next best thing ”

    The next best thing? You obviously don’t have the remotest idea of the difference between anti semitism and anti zionism.

  91. Brummagem Joe says:

    george says:
    Sunday, October 17, 2010 at 10:45

    This might help you to understand the difference.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2003/dec/03/comment

  92. george says:

    “The next best thing? You obviously don’t have the remotest idea of the difference between anti semitism and anti zionism.”

    Perhaps, but in this case I think I have correct, even if accidentally. Anti-Zionism is the belief that the return to Israel was wrong because it displaced a people who were already there. Which is fine. Except it sounds bizarre coming from North Americans who aren’t of Indian/first nations/aboriginal heritage. Basically the statement says its okay for them to displace indigenous people from a whole continent (North America), but wrong for the Jews to displace a people from a considerably smaller region (Palestine). The reason it sounds anti-Semitic (which is kind of an odd label considering both Paletinians and Jews are Semitic peoples) is because it singles out the Jews for doing what so many others (most North Americans, the Chinese in Tibet etc) are doing.

  93. Brummagem Joe says:

    george says:
    Sunday, October 17, 2010 at 11:34

    “Perhaps, but in this case I think I have correct, even if accidentally.”

    ??????

    And no anti semitism has nothing to do with US settlement of the NA continent or British settlement of the Australian continent and the consequent removal of indigenous peoples. That would be Imperialism which is why some are anti Zionist because they believe there is a considerable similarity between the two. To help again here’s a definition of imperialism.

    http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/imperialism

  94. george says:

    “That would be Imperialism which is why some are anti Zionist because they believe there is a considerable similarity between the two. To help again here’s a definition of imperialism.”

    But if those people are themselves living in a country founded as a result of imperialism, how do you account for their deciding it is okay when they themselves do it (for instance North America),it is okay when the Chinese do it in Tibet, but not okay when the Jews do it in Israel? Doesn’t it strike you that it is at least curious that the one case they object to involves the Jews? Especially considering the relatively tiny amount of land (compared to all of say the United States or Tibet) involved in Israel. Or do you simply attribute that to normal human hypocrisy rather than a prejudice against a particular people?

  95. Brummagem Joe says:

    george says:
    Sunday, October 17, 2010 at 12:44

    “Doesn’t it strike you that it is at least curious that the one case they object to involves the Jews?”

    Well it would if Jewish imperialism that was the only “imperialism” ever complained of but it’s not is it? Chinese land grabs in Tibet, Russian land grabs in Eastern Europe, Indian land grabs in Kashmir, British land grabs around the world. Or US land grabs of Indian lands. All have been the subject of criticism and none of them had anything whatever to do with anti semitism. You’re making connection that simply doesn’t exist and since I’ve provided ample evidence the two are different I can only assume you either haven’t read it, have some comprehension problems, or for partisan reasons want to suggest they are the same. And god knows what difference the amount of land being grabbed makes. It doesn’t get much smaller than Hong Kong but the Chinese certainly thought the British were occupying it illegitimately.

  96. george says:

    “Well it would if Jewish imperialism that was the only “imperialism” ever complained of but it’s not is it? Chinese land grabs in Tibet, Russian land grabs in Eastern Europe, Indian land grabs in Kashmir, British land grabs around the world. Or US land grabs of Indian lands. All have been the subject of criticism and none of them had anything whatever to do with anti semitism. ”

    Do you think there’s as much criticism in the left of the Chinese about Tibet, or the US holding onto Native lands as there is of Israel holding onto Palestinian land? If that is indeed the case then I concede the point, but as far as I can tell the left is much quicker to denounce Israel’s holding of Palestinian land than the Chinese in Tibet or the US in North America.

    In fact I think a lot of people instinctively side with Israel because of this imbalance – they wonder why Israel is singled out. Look at the number of UN resolutions against Israel compared to the number against China. Or against Russia. Look at all the unsettled land claims in Canada (involving an order of magnitude more land than all of Israel) … and how few UN resolutions have resulted. Its just odd that such a disproportionate amount of attention goes onto Israel. Has Glen Greenwald even once written an article looking into what the US (the nation of his primary concern) has stolen from the Natives, and how to repay them?

    If the amount of criticism were the same all around (ie equally spread between the US’s stolen land, the Chinese, the Israelies, the Canadians etc) then I’d agree with you. But the focus seems to be heavily on Israel – and the question becomes, why?

  97. george says:

    And yes I do have a particular perspective on this, though its not the one you probably think it is – I’m from one of the first nations, and from where I stand the US and Canada are as much occupiers as Israel. Okay, that’s not going to change, anymore than the situation in Israel is, but it makes it hard to take the moral stand seriously, and makes me think there’s a lot of racism involved even there – ‘Indians’ don’t even count enough that people complaining about Israel think it matters they’re doing the same thing.

  98. Brummagem Joe says:

    george says:
    Sunday, October 17, 2010 at 14:58

    “Do you think there’s as much criticism in the left of the Chinese about Tibet,”

    Probably not but that’s a matter of Realpolitik and not anti semitism. The US because it arms and supports Israel is perceived to exercise some influence over that state whereas in the case of China and Tibet we clearly have none.

    “Look at the number of UN resolutions against Israel compared to the number against China.’

    Again realpolitik. Russia and China are members of the security council with veto power quite apart from the leverage they are able to exert because of their inherent power.

    Do I really have to explain all this? I’m not disputing there’s anti semitism amongst the Arab nations that bring these resolutions but those nations are not the American left whose objection to the excesses of Zionism are nothing whatever to do with anti semitism particularly since many of them are Jewish anyway. You clearly haven’t read that essay I linked to explaining the difference since it was written by a Jewish philosopher. I guess you’d rather spend your time making stuff up.

  99. Brummagem Joe says:

    george says:
    Sunday, October 17, 2010 at 15:08

    “but it makes it hard to take the moral stand seriously, and makes me think there’s a lot of racism involved even there –” ‘

    So because their grandparents murdered six million Jews all Germans are precluded from taking moral stand on any issue. American left leaning Jews whose great grandparents came here to escape pogroms in Russia have no moral standing because sometime in the 19th century the US govt grabbed large tracts of Indian land. On this basis no one country, group of individuals, religious denomination anywhere has any moral standing to criticise any immoral behavior anywhere.

  100. george says:

    “So because their grandparents murdered six million Jews all Germans are precluded from taking moral stand on any issue. American left leaning Jews whose great grandparents came here to escape pogroms in Russia have no moral standing because sometime in the 19th century the US govt grabbed large tracts of Indian land. On this basis no one country, group of individuals, religious denomination anywhere has any moral standing to criticise any immoral behavior anywhere.”

    The Germans aren’t murdering jews anymore. The United States is still on first nations land. If you’re going to say that a statute of limitiations has run out on that, then you might note that Israel has been there for over 2 generations as well.

    Its also shifted at that point from a moral argument (stealing a people’s land is bad) to a practical one (people are already there, lets make the best of it).

    And its still morally ‘weak’ to spend way more effort and interest in the goings on in a foreign country (Israel/Palestine) than the broken treaties and present conditions of the people you stole from in your own home.