For me the key takeaway is that, again, an otherwise decent person promotes an overtly and covertly racist and classist agenda with utter ignorance, while truly feeling victimized and baffled by allegations of same. I used to think that ignorance was willful.
Now I’m not so sure. The concept of “aggrieved entitlement” has rarely been so gently expressed (if not particularly well-articulated) by a Tea Partier in the media – she truly believes that she not hurting anyone, that she has a right to an existence where she shouldn’t have to be in any way affected by the needs, opinions, troubles or challenges faced by anyone outside her homogenous comfort zone, and can not hear criticism as anything but ad hominem attacks.
Personally, I think that exposure is the only answer to ignorance. Trying to get people in her position to admit they are racist or in any way the “bad guy” is pointless. They honestly believe they are in the moral right, therefore if you challenge or contradict them in any way, you are in the wrong and therefore dismissible. Expressing anger to people like her simply entrenches their (IMO delusional) self-image as underdogs fighting the good fight.
We can argue with their mythologized and reinvented history forever and accomplish nothing. But if we really want to create change rather than just show off our better-informed outrage, we *have* to rise above the instinct to dismiss their humanity like they dismiss our civil and personal experience. We have to stop both the name-calling, and the lack of self-control that makes us want to lash out. I’m not saying we have no right to our outrage – we absolutely do, (and by “we” I mean everyone who doesn’t fit into the Tea Party’s extremely narrow worldview). But we have to look at what will actually help us achieve the equality and economic justice we want. There is enough overlap on the issue of actual government and Wall Street corruption that we can be allies. Working with the Tea Party *where we can* will expose us to each other as humans, and that is where we can create the most change, and where we can be most personally transformative.
Fortunately, the country as a whole is swinging back from the far-right rhetoric. As our demographics continue to shift away from the white majority, and as the dinosaurs of the old guard die off, popular culture and politics will reflect the change. There may be no progress to be had with this woman and her Tea Party. Her kids and theirs are a different story.
NOTE: Nicole Maron originally wrote her response to our TEA Party Values video as a Facebook comment, and was contacted by Annabel to post her thoughts here as well. Nicole and Annabel discussed the video on The Middle Ground, on Coffee Party Radio recorded on Tues. 2/19.
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