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Pangloss

Study shows Tea Party movement not racism-based

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I don't think racism was really something that was being seriously alleged here at SFN, but you hear it a lot in general these days (especially following the story about the NAACP stepping into the fray) so I thought it worth passing along, and perhaps it'll be interesting to discuss in some way.

 

From the Washington Post:

Few signs at tea party rally expressed racially charged anti-Obama themes

 

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.

 

Ekins photographed about 250 signs

...

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.

 

No real huge surprises here, IMO, although the citizenship thing only garnering 1% of the signs was a little bit of a surprise. Of course signs don't equate to beliefs, and people have those to varying degrees, so many amongst the attendees may actually still hold that belief.

 

Any thoughts?

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Rephrased: you have a rally about government spending, where the organisers were taking some inappropriate signs off people, and there's still one in twenty signs mentioning the President's race or religion.

 

On the flip side, there could be a small number of very visible racists who are just tagging along with the tea party movement.

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I think you are using the word racism when what you are talking about is bigotry. Racism is a larger and more complex phenomenon than the personal prejudices of individuals. I'm not sure what it really matters in a political sense whether some tea-partiers are bigoted at the individual level. That is about as relevant as whether some democrats live in predominantly white middle-class neighborhoods. The fact is that racism continues to perpetuate class-stratification in the economy and this tea-party movement is polarized against a certain approach to maintaining the status-quo of the economy. Depending on what results the politics ultimately have, there may be economic changes or not that help deconstruct the class-stratification system of exploitation that fuels and is fueled by the racism that perpetuates it. That is the more relevant issue than who's a bigot and what political affiliation they are claiming at present.

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I'd have to ask, why is there even one sign about Obama's race, religion, or citizenship, in a rally about spending? These things have nothing to do with spending, and the rally's organizers should really take them all down. That 6% such signs were left even after the organizers kicked out protesters carrying particularly inappropriate signs does say something. 25% of the signs were still about Obama himself. Only about half the signs were even vaugely about what the rally was about. That's just a recipe for disaster. These are people who, as a group at least, don't like Obama/Democrats/the government, and spending/taxes/deficit/liberty/socialism/role of government are just some of their main points (they don't have a main point). If those are even vaguely evenly distributed, that would make signs about Obama more prevalent than the ones about the point of the rally, or equal to the various points of the rally.

 

They'd be better off getting rid of most of these other protestors, especially if they're just tag-alongs. A 10-25% or so of these people but with a clear message would do a much better job.

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I'd have to ask, why is there even one sign about Obama's race, religion, or citizenship, in a rally about spending?

 

The same reason why people complained about GW Bush being unintelligent or rich; because people are petty and feel the need to make politics personal. It is wrong but you can neither expect to prevent it from happening, nor can you associate the actions of some individuals with their party or other political affiliation. Making it personal is just something some people in each movement choose to do, either because they're not mature enough to resist or because they're not intelligent enough to focus on the issues instead of bringing it to the ego level of the people involved.

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I have a conservative friend who has taken to calling Obama a "liar" because he didn't live up to what he perceives as a campaign promise not to raise taxes on those earning less than $250k/yr. There's so much room for interpretation there that it doesn't even pass the stink test for proof of deception, but that's how he feels. I respect opinions, and I just ignore this stuff coming out of him out of friendship, but it seems clear to me that he has no idea that he's doing exactly the same thing that he ranted about "the liberals" doing to Bush. Around and around and around we go, where it stops nobody knows.

 

Point being just that human nature is a random (or limited-predictable) variable. A small percentage of attendees at any rally will be doing something stupid, and I'm sure it will be no different at Jon Stewart's "Rally to Restore Sanity". There will be some lesser pinhead there waving a banner that says "I'm pretty sure Bush is still an idiot" (tying a Stewart-ism with something Stewart would never say), and a whole plethora of greater pinheads ranging from marijuana fans to marxists.

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Sure, but (if we assume an even distribution among the things the author mentioned in the same group but without percentages), the tea party rally would have for every two signs about the subject of the rally (ie, taxes), one sign about Obama's race, religion, or citizenship, and two signs about Obama.

 

Or, if you consider the rally to have had multiple subjects, the most popular subject was being angry about Obama, and Obama's race, religion, or citizenship half as popular as the other subjects.

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Sure, but (if we assume an even distribution among the things the author mentioned in the same group but without percentages), the tea party rally would have for every two signs about the subject of the rally (ie, taxes), one sign about Obama's race, religion, or citizenship, and two signs about Obama.

 

Or, if you consider the rally to have had multiple subjects, the most popular subject was being angry about Obama, and Obama's race, religion, or citizenship half as popular as the other subjects.

 

To me it seems like the anti-conservatives are the ones who make everything about religion, sanity, greed, class, and just about everything except true economic independence, which is what republicanism is supposed to be about. I don't see why anyone would even get into an argument about who is more racist, since that is a sure method to make politics about race generally. Why not raise politics above issues of social distribution of power and privilege? Could that be why there are all the accusations of "socialism?"

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Sure, but (if we assume an even distribution among the things the author mentioned in the same group but without percentages), the tea party rally would have for every two signs about the subject of the rally (ie, taxes), one sign about Obama's race, religion, or citizenship, and two signs about Obama.

 

You just did the same thing that the researcher points out that the media has been doing. You lumped the highly objectionable word "race" (and statistically insignificant citizenship signs) together with a bunch of perfectly reasonable objections in order to associate perfectly reasonable objections with highly objectionable ones. IMO that kind of thing is why we're in this mess today.

 

As far as opinions go, I think what we should be cheering here is the fact that it's not a lot worse. Look at how far Americans have come in terms of engaging on the most important aspects of the central issues of the day, and avoiding the traps and pitfalls of past discourse.

 

These tea partiers aren't pathetic, they're awesome. The one bright spot on a bleak and desolate landscape. If they are being fringed and mis-associated, it's not because of them, it's because we Americans cannot celebrate anything good anymore without 50% of us deciding that it's actually bad.

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These tea partiers aren't pathetic, they're awesome.

Why?

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Because they're engaged, they're focused on key issues, and they're not distracted by bigotry, etc.

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Because they're engaged, they're focused on key issues, and they're not distracted by bigotry, etc.

So they are awesome in the same way that Anti-G8/911-conspiracy/NWO protesters are awesome?

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So they are awesome in the same way that Anti-G8/911-conspiracy/NWO protesters are awesome?

 

Herd conformists who avoid focus in politics are the most awesome. They are the true backbone of anti-democratic status-quo reinforcement. They are also the most savvy in voting for "change you can believe in" while in fact wanting nothing more than to maintain a persistent herd-culture.

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Herd conformists who avoid focus in politics are the most awesome. They are the true backbone of anti-democratic status-quo reinforcement. They are also the most savvy in voting for "change you can believe in" while in fact wanting nothing more than to maintain a persistent herd-culture.

Um, what?

 

I have almost no idea what you're trying to say, but I am pretty sure it doesn't apply to what you quoted.

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Um, what?

 

I have almost no idea what you're trying to say, but I am pretty sure it doesn't apply to what you quoted.

I should have known that trying to use the language of sarcasm to critically respond to a comment written in sarcasm wouldn't work. Sarcasm is best suited for pushing one point of view in a way that makes it seem naturally true, because one's true meaning is not explicated.

 

My point was that you were lumping together political interests that go against the status quo as if there was something generally wrong with that, so I was pointing out that there is something wrong with the politics of political conformity by avoiding risky political positions.

 

 

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So they are awesome in the same way that Anti-G8/911-conspiracy/NWO protesters are awesome?

 

I don't think that's what they are. I think that's what a fringe group on the periphery of the tea party movement are. And this study supports my opinion. Of course it's just one study, and as I said above, your mileage may vary, check your local listings, offer void where prohibited, not valid with any other coupon.

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I think that's what a fringe group on the periphery of the tea party movement are.

 

So why are the crazies in charge?

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So why are the crazies in charge?

 

I don't know that they are.

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I don't know that they are.

 

I'm talking about Palin, Beck, O'Donnel, etc. Those are the big stars, right?

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So why are the crazies in charge?

 

Am I the only person who gets irritated when people assume that 'mainstream politics' makes people sane when practically the opposite is the case. We are currently enduring a political movement to establish normal as sane and good after it was clearly demonstrated to be insane during the war on terror. Is it really wise to re-construct normalcy as sanity? Wouldn't it be better to have actual sanity as the baseline to measure sanity instead of political conformity?

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I should have known that trying to use the language of sarcasm to critically respond to a comment written in sarcasm wouldn't work. Sarcasm is best suited for pushing one point of view in a way that makes it seem naturally true, because one's true meaning is not explicated.

 

My point was that you were lumping together political interests that go against the status quo as if there was something generally wrong with that, so I was pointing out that there is something wrong with the politics of political conformity by avoiding risky political positions.

No, I wasn't. I was highlighting a group of people that Pangloss has referred to as less than awesome in the past, as a means of inferring the question "what is the difference then?" between a tea-party protester (that he thinks is awesome) and a NWO protester (that I don't think he considers quite so awesome, though I am open to new information if he does) when they both are "engaged, focused on key issues, and not distracted by bigotry."

 

Personally I have no problem with either movement whatsoever or the taking of risky political positions. The polarity of the positions don't matter to me. The content of the message is what matters. When the tea party comes up with a message I'll consider the content, but as of now they have no message other than being "angry" and "upset" and a whole lot of generally abstract ideology that is yet to result in a single concept that actually resembles a course of action, strategy, or solution to a single problem.

 

Claiming we need people in Washington that will listen to the people, have moral integrity, respect people's faith, respect our traditions, will protect the borders, will cut taxes, will cut spending, will cut the deficit...etc is all as great as it is meaningless if they are just tossed around in the abstract. I can say "yeah, those things are good" but they don't even propose a course of action that utilizes them. They just list their favorite things (when not distracted by the list of things they loath) and rally to elect people who claim to like those things too, as if electing people who like those things (I mean, as if Obama didn't like those things?) will somehow create a whole plethora of working legislation that will provide us with solutions not even M.C. Escher could put to pen and paper.

 

 

Anyway, I have no idea who you are trying to say are herd conformists. I got that you implied sarcasm saying they were "awesome" since you criticize them right after, but I don't know who they are or why they want nothing more than to maintain a persistent herd-culture. Did I miss more sarcasm?

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Personally I have no problem with either movement whatsoever or the taking of risky political positions. The polarity of the positions don't matter to me. The content of the message is what matters. When the tea party comes up with a message I'll consider the content, but as of now they have no message other than being "angry" and "upset" and a whole lot of generally abstract ideology that is yet to result in a single concept that actually resembles a course of action, strategy, or solution to a single problem.

 

Claiming we need people in Washington that will listen to the people, have moral integrity, respect people's faith, respect our traditions, will protect the borders, will cut taxes, will cut spending, will cut the deficit...etc is all as great as it is meaningless if they are just tossed around in the abstract. I can say "yeah, those things are good" but they don't even propose a course of action that utilizes them. They just list their favorite things (when not distracted by the list of things they loath) and rally to elect people who claim to like those things too, as if electing people who like those things (I mean, as if Obama didn't like those things?) will somehow create a whole plethora of working legislation that will provide us with solutions not even M.C. Escher could put to pen and paper.

 

 

Anyway, I have no idea who you are trying to say are herd conformists. I got that you implied sarcasm saying they were "awesome" since you criticize them right after, but I don't know who they are or why they want nothing more than to maintain a persistent herd-culture. Did I miss more sarcasm?

You seem to miss the irony in your post that by saying that people are off-base if they don't outline an institutionally-conforming course of action to "achieve" the goal of reducing government spending that they are problematically abstract and meaningless. I don't know if you can see it, but the more government defines channels of action, the more government is needed to pursue or achieve anything. This makes government a self-necessitating and self-perpetuating authority. This is exactly what these tea-partiers want to de-construct, imo, at least I hope it is.

 

How do you go against a culture of governance that spends first and postpones the taxation for later? What's worse is that the spending started as bailouts for crashes that were the result of an economic boom caused by people bundling mortgages and selling them as futures. So the profit originates with empty futures trading, then the government steps in to bail out the futures after they collapse, and THEN starts injecting even more money to stimulate it all to start again. Is there any fiscal discipline to prevent the same kind of economy from occurring again? Maybe, but only at the institutional level. The middle class is living and spending the same way it did before that drove the economy to the point of meltdown.

 

Now, whether these tea-partiers are bigoted, stupid, crazy, or whatever, they are the only people as far as I know who are actually daring to speak out against the deficit spending and stimulus. Everyone else seems to be too afraid of losing their piece of the pie to support anything except more spending. Yes, I would like the tea-partiers and anyone else to make real concrete plans about how to weather further economic recession with less collateral damage as a result. But at present we can't even seem to get beyond the ideology that lost GDP must always result in lost quality of life. Nowhere have people been showing how fiscal stimulus is not needed to stimulate economic restucturing that doesn't rely on GDP-boost to boost overall quality of life. But at least the tea-partiers seem to have faith that it can happen with less taxing/spending.

 

My biggest concern is that once they get the tax cuts they want, they won't conserve the money but spend it and that will create the same amount of economic waste only at the hands of private business instead of government. What is really needed is concrete economic analysis and planning at the level of what people and businesses have to do to not only survive but thrive will decreasing revenues, but no one seems capable of imagining that well enough to lay out a concrete vision and/or suggestions.

 

 

 

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You just did the same thing that the researcher points out that the media has been doing. You lumped the highly objectionable word "race" (and statistically insignificant citizenship signs) together with a bunch of perfectly reasonable objections in order to associate perfectly reasonable objections with highly objectionable ones. IMO that kind of thing is why we're in this mess today.

 

No, that is what you concluded I did. All I did was show that "hating Obama" was one of the major points of the rally, on average over twice as major as any one of the other points lumped together as being related to the purpose of the rally, and perhaps the major point of the rally. And the "crazy anti-Obama" were on average half as prevalent as any of their major points. What I'm saying is that (from that description) the rally was very unfocused which makes even the few crazies they had comparable to one of their main points.

 

These tea partiers aren't pathetic, they're awesome. The one bright spot on a bleak and desolate landscape. If they are being fringed and mis-associated, it's not because of them, it's because we Americans cannot celebrate anything good anymore without 50% of us deciding that it's actually bad.

 

They're unfocused, and they have crazies. The media always has so much more fun showing the crazies, and since they neither have a clear message nor have gotten rid of their crazies, that's who the media is going to focus on. I don't think this is so much to do with the population, I think this is largely the doings of the media. That they can't deal with how our media is doesn't really help their case though.

 

How do you go against a culture of governance that spends first and postpones the taxation for later?

 

By kicking the Republicans out of office. Electing Libertarians would also help, if that were possible.

 

Now, whether these tea-partiers are bigoted, stupid, crazy, or whatever, they are the only people as far as I know who are actually daring to speak out against the deficit spending and stimulus.

 

Everyone speaks out against the deficit, and many people against the stimulus. The more politically aligned will only speak out against them when the party they oppose are in office.

 

My biggest concern is that once they get the tax cuts they want, they won't conserve the money but spend it and that will create the same amount of economic waste only at the hands of private business instead of government. What is really needed is concrete economic analysis and planning at the level of what people and businesses have to do to not only survive but thrive will decreasing revenues, but no one seems capable of imagining that well enough to lay out a concrete vision and/or suggestions.

 

Taxes isn't the problem, spending is. Cut spending and eventually there will be no need for high taxes. Cut taxes but not spending, and we borrow the difference. Works the same way at the personal level, with "earning income" (instead of taxes) and spending.

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So why are the crazies in charge?
I don't know that they are.
I'm talking about Palin, Beck, O'Donnel, etc. Those are the big stars, right?

 

It's pretty hard for me to imagine Christine O'Donnell being "in charge" of her own campaign finances, much less an entire grass-roots movement. Glenn Beck is certainly in charge of something, but I'm not sure even he's figured out what that is yet. Gold bullion sales, perhaps.

 

But seriously, I get what you're saying, but if any of these three are formally in charge of any tea party organizations, I'm not aware of it. I think they glommed on to the idea of a grass-roots, mainly-conservative movement, and managed to push enough hot buttons with the majority of the members' opinions to end up being perceived as some sort of moral compass for the movement on some level.

 

But I don't really see a problem with this. Everyone always thinks that people who don't agree with them are being led by the nose and automatically believe everything they're told by partisan demagogues. I don't think it's that simple. There's a reason the red states aren't purely red, but more a shade of purple. If the media stopped using tiny minorities as straw men to marginalize broad groups of people, then we also wouldn't have the problem of people like Beck, Palin, etc, being able to position themselves (or be perceived) as leaders.

 

------------

 

No, I wasn't. I was highlighting a group of people that Pangloss has referred to as less than awesome in the past, as a means of inferring the question "what is the difference then?" between a tea-party protester (that he thinks is awesome) and a NWO protester (that I don't think he considers quite so awesome, though I am open to new information if he does) when they both are "engaged, focused on key issues, and not distracted by bigotry."

 

I'm going back to your earlier definition, "Anti-G8/911-conspiracy/NWO protesters", which is a bit wider and will make my following point more clear.

 

On the individual level I have no beef with any "Anti-G8/911-conspiracy/NWO protester" per se. If people follow that path to political awareness, more power to them. Fine by me.

 

The reason that I, personally, don't elevate that group, but do elevate the tea party movement to the level of "awesome" is that the tea party movement appears to consist of common, working adults. The silent, previously-unengaged majority who represent the real, hard-working, freedom-loving, open-minded but usually-too-busy-to-be-politically-aware America.

 

As opposed to childish, single-issue barn burners and tree spikers incapable of anything other than hate. "Some men aren't looking for anything logical, like money. They can't be bought, bullied, reasoned or negotiated with. Some men just want to watch the world burn." - Alfred

 

In fact, I believe these are the same sort of people who will be attending Jon Stewart's rally. (Edit: I meant to say people like those who join the tea party movement, not crazy tree spikers!) Which is not to say that Stewart's attendees will be tea party members -- what I'm saying is that they'll have much the same sentiments and beliefs. The only difference is that the Stewart rally attendees will be a little left of center instead of a little right of center.

 

-------------

 

All I did was show that "hating Obama" was one of the major points of the rally, on average over twice as major as any one of the other points lumped together as being related to the purpose of the rally, and perhaps the major point of the rally. And the "crazy anti-Obama" were on average half as prevalent as any of their major points. What I'm saying is that (from that description) the rally was very unfocused which makes even the few crazies they had comparable to one of their main points.

 

They're unfocused, and they have crazies.

 

The problem I had with your previous statement is that you combined smaller categories into much larger categories in order to suggest conclusions based on only the smaller categories. I didn't think that was appropriate.

 

I have no problem with you focusing on the 25% anger-related signs and drawing a different conclusion from I regarding what that means. But here's another interpretation of the anger: It's a reaction in response to the President taking position after position that is other than their own positions. Is that lack of focus, or simply the gradual building of a personal opposition to a candidate?

 

I don't see "unfocus" here in general, either. I see diversity in opinions, and I might even agree that there's a lack of consistency in what to do about each issue amongst the members. This is probably true of any sufficiently large political group, including both the Democratic and Republican Parties, which are called "big tents" for a reason.

 

As for "crazies", the only data pertaining to something that you and I both might agree to categorize this way would be the 5% who "mentioned the president's race or religion", and/or the 1% who "questioned his American citizenship". At the outside that's 6%. Leaving 94% not demonstrated here to be either crazy or unfocused.

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In fact, I believe these are the same sort of people who will be attending Jon Stewart's rally. (Edit: I meant to say people like those who join the tea party movement, not crazy tree spikers!) Which is not to say that Stewart's attendees will be tea party members -- what I'm saying is that they'll have much the same sentiments and beliefs. The only difference is that the Stewart rally attendees will be a little left of center instead of a little right of center.

 

I'm betting another difference will be a very very very small percentage of "crazy" signs, if any.

 

The problem I had with your previous statement is that you combined smaller categories into much larger categories in order to suggest conclusions based on only the smaller categories. I didn't think that was appropriate.

 

I have no problem with you focusing on the 25% anger-related signs and drawing a different conclusion from I regarding what that means. But here's another interpretation of the anger: It's a reaction in response to the President taking position after position that is other than their own positions. Is that lack of focus, or simply the gradual building of a personal opposition to a candidate?

 

What's lack of focus is the 6 different topics that the guy had to group together to be over half the signs. On average, "being angry at Obama" was twice as important as one of these subjects.

 

As for the grouping together I did, that was the grouping into the "crazies" category, not into the "angry at Obama" category which the author did. I assumed the "crazies" was a subset of these, and did not add the "crazies" to that group for my calculations.

 

I don't see "unfocus" here in general, either. I see diversity in opinions, and I might even agree that there's a lack of consistency in what to do about each issue amongst the members. This is probably true of any sufficiently large political group, including both the Democratic and Republican Parties, which are called "big tents" for a reason.

 

Yes, diversity of opinions is a lack of focus. At least they can agree that they don't like Obama.

 

As for "crazies", the only data pertaining to something that you and I both might agree to categorize this way would be the 5% who "mentioned the president's race or religion", and/or the 1% who "questioned his American citizenship". At the outside that's 6%. Leaving 94% not demonstrated here to be either crazy or unfocused.

 

Sure, and the author grouped 6 different topics together as being the point of the rally, and said it was more than half. So if it was about 60%, then on average these subjects would be 10% each, with "angry at Obama" beating the average of them by over double and the "crazies" being about half as important.

 

Another aspect is that as I understand it, these rallies are poorly controlled, which would make them one of the few places the crazies could go and not get kicked out.

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