Sunday, April 11, 2010
What is a tea-bagger? (Plus a couple springtime pics)
I've spoken with a couple friends about it, and we are pretty much agreed that the tea-baggers --excuse me -- the Tea Party Movement is motivated, whether the tea-baggers know it or not, by a deep-seated fear of "the Other." (I call them tea-baggers because that was the name they gave themselves when they first started their histrionics. Boy, was I laughing up my sleeve at that! It's a pity that they finally caught on.)
It makes them anxious, for example, when they find themselves at the Shell Station on Highway 97 and everyone there --the guy filling the tank, the woman behind the counter, the local clientele --speaks Spanish. That's why we see bumper stickers on tea-bagger pickup trucks that say: "This is America. Speak English only."
Likewise, homosexuals make tea-baggers nervous and uncomfortable because they dislike being confronted by their own sexual repression. A gay person who seems comfortable with himself or herself is obviously someone who has faced questions that the tea-bagger cannot. Which is not to say that all tea-baggers are repressed homosexuals, but that for an indoctrinated tea-bagger, his or her sexuality --gay, straight, or otherwise --is irrelevant. The tea-bagger must maintain the appearance of a heterosexual if he or she wants to be accepted into tea-bagger society. (As we all know, however, the reality is often quite different). That's why tea-baggers feel so strongly that "marriage" is between a man and a woman.
Tea-baggers vehemently deny that they are racist. And despite the reports in the news about racial slurs directed at Congresspersons, I think tea-baggers are sincere in their protestations. As the old saying goes, "Some of my best friends are [insert your racial/religious/ethnic slur here]." I don't believe the majority of tea-baggers actively hate black people or Mexicans or Muslims. I do believe, however, that tea-baggers are uncomfortable with the idea of black people or Mexicans or Muslims having any authority. That's why they have such antipathy toward President Obama. That's why black people, Mexicans, and Muslims steer clear of tea-bagger rallies. And, I suppose, being the spouse of a black person and a Muslim, and myself being (partly, at least) Mexican, that's why I despise tea-baggers.
Well, none of this is anything new. Although today's tea-baggers see themselves as part of an unprecedented, grass-roots movement, these United States have a long history with this nativist, latently racist demographic of the population. Back in the 1840s and 1850s, they were called "Know Nothings." But, back then, "the Other," were German and Irish immigrants. In fact, so familiar are we with this political demographic that many have risen to prominence and made tons of money by catering to its fears and prejudices.