Last month, I read that a left-of-center friend of mine, a decent person who shows great respect to her ideological adversaries, likened some of the Tea Party language to “hate speech”, with the rallies providing cover for racist rhetoric.
She has, like many critics of this dynamic, grassroots movement, not yet attended a Tea Party and, like many busy professionals, doesn’t have time to look to as many alternative sources of news as do bloggers. Thus, given the tilt of the media coverage of the Tea Party, it’s not surprising that the average consumer of news, has a jaundiced view of this phenomenon.
People busy with his work and family don’t have time to surf the web to confirm every story they read in such left-leaning dailies as the New York or Los Angeles Times. Thus, it is no wonder, as blogging law professor William A. Jacobson observed, a Washington Post poll found that 28% of Americans find racial prejudice underlying the Tea Party.
. . . the fact that “nearly three in ten” Americans perceive the Tea Parties as racist is amazingly low considering how much time WaPo and NY Times columnists, Democratic members of Congress, and left-wing blogs spend calling Tea Partiers racist.
The only reason Tea Parties are “battling perceptions of racism,” as the Post puts it, is because of the prejudices of the reporters from papers like theirs as well as from various and sundry mainstream news outlets.
Since these journalists are predisposed to find racism on the right, they will play up the handful of nasty slogans they see on random signs at our rallies or the occasional nut-bag who happens to show up at the protests they cover. As we (and other conservative and libertarian bloggers) have said repeatedly, there are nuts in every political movement. But, somehow, the isolated extremists are supposed to define ours.
Nobody was asking Barney Frank to differentiate himself from the mean-spirited anti-war protesters in Bush era who likened the then-president to Hitler and wished for his death. Why then are his ideological allies in the halls of Congress and the offices of mainstream news outlets then defining our movement by its fringe?
NB: I cleaned up a few typos and changed a few expressions to improve the flow of the piece.