To argue against the editor-in-chief’s condemnation of racism within the Tea Party movement, Professor Martin portrays Ms. Maton as a sloppy researcher ignorant of facts, and consumed by her own ideological bias. We argue in regard to these allegations that it’s Prof. Martin, rather than the editor, who stands guilty as charged.
First, Professor Martin claims that the incidences of Tea Party racism cited by the editor are patently false. Where could the editor have found the truth? According to the professor, she need look no further than the blogosphere, where the work of Michelle Malkin, a right-wing pundit may be found. We are shocked that a professor would regard the blogosphere as a source of credible and reliable information. As Ms. Maton implied in her own response to Professor Martin, this approach to research violates the integrity of both journalistic and scholarly modes of inquiry. The “blogosphere” is a vast and chaotic echo chamber where fact and fiction fuse in a kind of empirical anarchy. For instance, Ms. Malkin and her right-wing blogosphere colleagues seriously accuse President Obama of trying to kill the grandmothers of America via the healthcare bill, which they allege sets up federal death panels to euthanize the elderly. Millions of Americans believe this untrue claim, which cannot become true no matter how many times it appears in the blogosphere. We would hope that Professor Martin does not structure his own teaching and research here at Loyola by relying on the blogosphere that so obviously informs his political viewpoints.
But beyond his patronizing and absurd attempt to undermine the editor’s research methodology, Professor Martin tries to reduce the allegations of racism leveled against the conservative Tea Party to a misinformation campaign staged by the Obama administration. While we do not find all sympathizers or active participants in the Tea Party movement to be racists, the racism infusing the movement is unmistakable and taps into a strain of conservatism that for the last half century has relied upon bigotry to further its political agenda. Tea Partiers have gleefully sported signs depicting the President in a grass skirt with a bone through his nose carrying a spear. They have dangled nooses, a threatening gesture pregnant with racist symbolism, drawing upon America’s sordid history of lynching, directed mainly against African Americans. They speak on lecterns emblazoned with an image of the President as The Joker, grotesquely painted in white face, an inversion of the black face minstrel show stereotype, which carries the message that Barack Obama is doing what no black man should presume to, that is, lead white people. Tea Party chapters have praised Confederate History Month, recently declared in Virginia to celebrate a political heritage whose foundations, according to Confederate vice president Alexander Stephens, are laid upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery subordination to the superior race is his natural and normal condition. This, our new government, is the first in the history of the world, based upon this great physical, philosophical and moral truth. In the 1968 Presidential campaign, conservative Republicans employed the Southern Strategy to woo traditionally Democratic voters in the former Confederacy, angry that the federal government was violating states rights by enforcing desegregation and black voting rights. Conservatives resorted to the same tactics in the 1980 and 1984 presidential campaigns, using states rights as a code, according to one of the plan’s architects, the late Lee Atwater, simply because “n-gger” was no longer politically correct. In 2002, Conservative Senator Trent Lott lamented the defeat of 1948 segregationist Presidential candidate Strom Thurmond, whose defeat, according to Lott, resulted in all these problems.
Professor Martin levels outlandish charges against the Obama administration for playing the race card to shield itself from conservative criticism, perversely shifting the burden of American racism to America’s first black president. He offers no convincing proof to debunk the well-documented reports that Tea Party adherents directed slurs and spit at black members of Congress voting for the health care bill. Furthermore, he ignores the racism underlying the symbolism and state’s rights rhetoric of the Tea Party he so weakly and ineffectively defends.
Finally, despite Professor Martin’s protestations to the contrary, the Tea Party is not a de-centralized, self-funded, organic movement of lower-income Americans. As recent polls have shown, Tea Partiers are better educated and wealthier than most Americans; and whenever funds and publicity are needed for their national rallies, they have Dick Army’s Freedom Works organization, Glenn Beck’s Project 9-12, and the entire Fox News Network at their disposal.
Before he presumes to preach again to our students, Professor Martin should get his own methods and facts straight. Professors John Donoghue & Anthony CardozaHistory Department]]>