14 September 2009

The Joker

I felt a sense of revulsion when I saw in the newspaper the image of Batman's Joker now covering Obama's face. My immediate sense was that this image carried a threat of violence against the President himself, and this sense was mixed up with the recognition of the old racist tradition of black-face from Vaudeville.

Threatening the President with harm? Racism?

I'm not certain.

Because of certain work obligations, I'm deferring the work I planned to do on President Bush the Elder's education program and his speech to school children in 1991. Meanwhile, I've been arguing on Facebook with a couple of aspiring members of Congress who were part of the Tea Party protest this past weekend, arguing about the size of the event, which looks from the films to be less than 200,000 if not close to the ABC estimate of 60,000 to 70,000. Certainly the crowd was no where near the two million they claim.

This evening they started attacking the Obama Administration for playing the so-called "race card." My quest for context led me to a stunning piece in the Boise Weekly, "Tea Party Inspired by Racial Fears" by Nathaniel Hoffman. Hoffman's summary of the motives of the crowd, as he sees it, may not be one hundred percent accurate, but it's an interesting perspective:
A few common themes unite the Tea Partiers, as far as I can tell: some evolving form of Christian patriotism, an aversion to paying taxes, fear of police with an equal and contradictory adoration of the law and the military, and a personal reading of the Constitution and Founding Fathers that borders on idolatry.
Hoffman, "Racial Fears"
Most of the rest of the article highlights ways that racism might at least appear to be an underlying issue. I'm not certain that Hoffman is correct, but it's food for thought.

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