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July 23, 2014

Ronald Reagan Decries the Tea Party

By Zach Roberts

As I write this the 102nd Annual NAACP convention is going on in Los Angeles. Right now in fact they’re having their late night Worship service. It’s a quiet year for the convention – so far no controversial resolutions, no Presidential visits, just business as usual.

Last year was a different story.

The NAACP was celebrating it’s 101st year – they decided to draw up a resolution. Hilary Shelton, director of the NAACP’s Washington bureau explained it – “[the resolution] calls on the Tea Party and all people of good will to repudiate the racist element and activities within the Tea Party.” Once the story leaked that the tentative resolution had been drawn up, Ben Jealous the President of the NAACP followed up with, “It’s time for the Tea Party to be responsible members of this democracy and make sure they don’t tolerate bigots or bigotry among their members.”

Cue Sarah Palin’s freakout. Blood Libel! Ronald Reagan! Facebook! A Press Release!

I am saddened by the NAACP’s claim that patriotic Americans who stand up for the United States of America’s Constitutional rights are somehow “racists.” The charge that Tea Party Americans judge people by the color of their skin is false, appalling, and is a regressive and diversionary tactic to change the subject at hand.

President Reagan called America’s past racism “a legacy of evil” against which we have seen the long struggle of minority citizens for equal rights. He condemned any sort of racism, as all good and decent people do today. He also called it a “point of pride for all Americans” that as a nation, we have successfully struggled to overcome this evil. Reagan rightly declared that “there is no room for racism, anti-Semitism, or other forms of ethnic and racial hatred in this country,” and he warned that we must never go back to the racism of our past.

His words rang especially true in the immediate aftermath of the 2008 presidential election. It seemed that with the election of our first black president, our country had become a new “post-racial” society. As one writer in the Washington Post stated: “[Barack Obama’s] election isn’t just about a black president. It’s about a new America. The days of confrontational identity politics have come to an end.”

Oh if it were only true. If only we could bring this post-racial society into being.

The one where Blacks weren’t terrorized anymore by white supremacists.

Or where Muslims/Arabs patriotism wasn’t questioned by sitting members of Congress like some modern day McCarthy Hearings.

Or where Hispanic children wouldn’t get shot in their homes at night.

Or where former Governors from Alaska wouldn’t cozy up with guys from Arizona that have ties to White Supremacist groups.

There’s one thing tying all these together – The Tea Party.

As of yet, I haven’t seen the press releases decrying the murderers in their midst. I haven’t seen the Facebook status updates saying “They don’t represent us!” They just cry blood libel. They blame it on the Muslims, but never look inward.

My only hope is that they look to their leader, their savior… no, not the long-haired sandal-wearing hippy from Palestine, but the failed actor President Ronald Reagan. I’ve been sitting on this gem for a while now, waiting for the right moment to release it into the wild. The clip is from Ronald Reagan’s address to the 1981 NAACP Convention.

Reagan Speaking at the 1981 NAACP Convention

“…And while our communication should always deal with current issues of importance, it must never stray far from our national commitment to battle against discrimination and increase our knowledge of each other.

A few isolated groups in the backwater of American life still hold perverted notions of what America is all about. Recently in some places in the nation there’s been a disturbing reoccurrence of bigotry and violence. If I may, from the platform of this organization, known for its tolerance, I would like to address a few remarks to those groups who still adhere to senseless racism and religious prejudice, to those individuals who persist in such hateful behavior.

If I were speaking to them instead of to you, I would say to them, “You are the ones who are out of step with our society. You are the ones who willfully violate the meaning of the dream that is America. And this country, because of what it stands for, will not stand for your conduct.” My administration will vigorously investigate and prosecute those who, by violence or intimidation, would attempt to deny Americans their constitutional rights.”

Sound like anyone we know?

Zach Roberts is TheMudflats New York Bureau Chief and the Gil Palast Memorial Fellow, he has produced for BBC Newsnight. Currently he is working on his first feature length documentary, a film about Alaskan politics – The Rogue Candidate.

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42 Responses to “Ronald Reagan Decries the Tea Party”
  1. rm says:

    On Hannity, Palin Holy shit, palin brought up Ayers. She was not happy with poor old Romney.
    AND she licked her fingers TWICE and held it up in the air.
    Not Presidential AT ALL! So Jersey shore.
    For sure i can bet my $ she is not running for any office, she is going to rally for her twin sis Bachmann!!!
    And her hair gosh! Beehive salon pl. help her!

  2. dowl says:

    GOTP (pronounced Got P?) The republican christianists are overrun with them in their quest to ‘take back their country’ for some theocractic Idiocracy. ACK!

    Thanks for a place to vent.

  3. Penny Arcade says:

    AKM, is Zach Roberts, the son of Malcolm and Cindy Roberts? Please send an answer to my email. I do not have an email address for you or I would used that to ask this question. Thanks.

  4. carol says:

    Can someone help me? I want to put the above video in an email but don’t know how to do it.

    • beth says:

      Double-click on the “YouTube” written in the lower right of the screen/video. That’ll take you to the YouTube site where there are further options (to put it on your Fb page, twitter, email, etc.) Hope that helps. beth.

  5. jimzmum says:

    I think this chilling song works very well. It is from Cabaret, and gives me chills every time I watch this clip.

    “You still think you can control them?”

    Tomorrow Belongs to Me

  6. OMG says:

    The Tea Party is a fraudulent organization born out of fear and hate and nothing more. As soon as Obama took his oath of office, they screamed that they would take their country back. From what? After Obama cut taxes for most Americans they screamed about taxes. They scream that they live for the Constitution but they do not know what it says. They scream about freedom but they fight against the freedom for women to choose, equal rights in marriage and religious freedom for anyone outside of Judeo Christian faiths.

    And now, after the atrocities in Norway, Glenn Beck, one of their staunchest patrons, is playing with a smoldering fire of hate and discrimination created by the right wing that could result in frightening consequences in the US:

    http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/07/28/a-madman-and-his-manifesto/?hp

  7. LaniN says:

    Give me a break about St. Ronnie. I was one of the people out and in front him during the campaigns. There was nothing generous or accepting about him. People with opposing signs were dragged away. He claimed trees were major polluters. He claimed to support women’s rights while opposing every law that provided those rights. When he was elected, every liberal and every person of color or LGBT in WDC looked elsewhere as fast as possible for a job. We had a pretty open society in WDC under Ford and Carter. That slammed to a halt.

    I went to his Capital Hill rallies. That was before major security set in, so I was very close to him. I could see the stage makeup on his face, and the tremors and confusion. All we had to do was chant, and he would become confused. Nancy would cue him to sign a patriotic song. The capital hill and the other security police wouldn’t touch me or my cohorts because we looked like nice, white republican ladies. They’d go after the people in gorilla suits or t-shirts and jeans. The RNC didn’t want press coverage of nice ladies in heels and hose being dragged away.

    Once the election was decided, the young, white christianists arrived in town, proudly declaring their victory. And many talented, devoted civil servants began their exodus to safer locations. And then the demonizing began of people who supported the human rights of the poor, disenfranchised, female, people of color, and the people with disabilities. It was and is ugly. So don’t tell me anything nice about that puppet Reagan. I saw him. Close up. Confusioned and decorated with his stage make-up, being fed lines to deliver.

    • beth says:

      Ahhh, LaniN… you know that and I know that. Anyone who has paid attention to the goings on in our nation for the past 30, 40, 50-years, or who has read *legitimate* history books of the time period, knows that. We ALL know that.

      For the Baggers, GOPers, and/or assorted Talibangelicals, though, St. Ronnie is this nation’s most recent Saviour Incarnate; he’s the one they keep invoking and so desperately want people to automatically associate them with. In their eyes, St. Ronnie could do –and did!– nothing wrong, ever. Let me repeat that: St. Ronnie could do N.O.T.H.I.N.G wrong, E.V.E.R.

      St. Ronnie is the *ultimate* politician, sage, and go-to guy for ‘instructions’ on how to lead this nation in a manner positive, uplifiting, worthy-of-world-envy, and a return to world-towering-stature; he has definitive answers to ALL that ails us. Baggers, GOPers, and/or assorted Talibangelicals *adore* him for that…and can’t seem to get enough of their All-American Hero.

      Sure, it’s all a bunch of revisionist bullchit on their part, but there you have it. beth.

  8. beth says:

    And the brilliance and beauty of the Baggers (and GOPers) using Reagan as their *constantly* cited, stage-center star, is they can use him also as the laser-beam ‘measure’ of how completely and open-heartedly inclusive they are.

    When Baggers (and/or GOPers) get to feeling the least bit of heat for their bigotry and intolerance, they point to their Saint Ronnie and can solemnly proclaim: “President Reagan embraced all Americans; he pulled no punches that all Americans are equal. He was even keynote speaker at the ’81 NAACP Convention; you can watch it on YouTube. We are Reagan’s party! We don’t discriminate — we embrace all Americans, too! Join us; you won’t regret it!”

    See how nicely that works? Doesn’t matter that the current edition of the GOP, and its cute little off-shoot, the sweet little Tea Baggers, is one St. Ronnie wouldn’t recognize even with a play book, he’s still used as the be all and end all…to include as *the* measuring stick of how ‘open’ the party is. beth.

    – To be fair, they also dig up old Abe’s bones once in a while, as in: “Lincoln was a Republican”– used as a last-ditch effort to reel in wayward black citizens to the party. Oy! b.

    • Beezer says:

      Dang .. I totally agree with you…Sh-t… he (St. Ronnie) lost me when he held the most shameful leadership qualities …ever…., during those days of his mean-spiritedness (un-Christian in my eyes) toward gay men.

  9. Baker's Dozen says:

    Well, I’m stunned. Stunned, I say. Boehner doesn’t seem to be quite as competent a majority leader as Pelosi. I’m so shocked by this that it will have no affect on my day at all. I’m still going fishing. Trout, not salmon.
    What did those Republican nincompoops think would happen when they supported all those baggie candidates and signed all those stupid pledges proposed by a bunch of really stupid people who thought they were actually legitimate and that compromise is never necessary?

    This group of people really are represented by that crockbuster, “The Unthinked.” Poster children for including critical thinking skills tests for graduation from high school.

    We should start a nonprofit to raise money to help the poor people with this sad affliction. Then, we can send them all to Gilligan’s Island and they can set up their govt and economy just the way they want and we’ll see which country runs the bestest.

  10. Beezer says:

    I’m not sure why… but, I was looking for some music that might reflect the way I felt this evening when watching all the un-necessary happenings going on in DC this news cycle. Especially in regards to the tea-party and the lyrics from John Lennons song “Instant Karma” came to mind so I post the following link:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EqP3wT5lpa4

    enjoy-Beezer

    • Beezer says:

      In this particular video what do you think Yoko is representing- I feel she is showing the tea-party is blind to their consituients(sp?) so she shows that the world goes on…. and on….and that by knitting she shows how irrelavant they are. …??? my opinion???

      • I’ve never understood most of what Yoko did or represented. Btw, she is crocheting, not knitting, but it probably doesn’t make a difference. The only thing I thought of was in A Tale of Two Cities, any time you see the character Madame Defarge (is that the right name?), she is knitting. And later it turns out she is sending significant signals with her knitting. Other than some connection there, I don’t get it. I find her distracting to his performance. That’s usually the way I saw her, however.

  11. fishingmamma says:

    I saw a wonderful bumper sticker today. It seemds to fit in this thread:

    “Don’t believe everything you think”

    • Baker's Dozen says:

      I have so many stupid thoughts each day, I’m frequently glad that I don’t belong to a race of telepaths, but get to edit my thoughts before they become realities. :-)

    • Cassie Jeep says:

      Great advice.

      I remember–years ago–leaving my first born at a Jesuit College her freshman year. The “Jebbies” parted parents from child saying “We intend to turn every belief they currently hold upside down, inside out and sideways. If they come back to you with a belief intact, then it is valid for them”.

      The children ( she and three others)came home believing in tolerance, equality, fairness, honesty, duty and service.

      I like that.

    • carol says:

      Wonderful! I know someone who has a tee shirt that says “think! it’s not illegal yet” and this bumper sticker would be perfect. However, no way in **** would it ever be on her vehicle as she BELIEVES! everything she thinks.

  12. leenie17 says:

    It does give me hope that the last national Tea Party convention was cancelled due to lack of interest and the big TP rally in Washington (yesterday?) had far more speakers and reporters than audience members, which numbered in the tens.

    I truly believe that the complete intransigence of the Tea Party members of Congress has been made clear to the public…and the public is not happy. It seems that many of the people who helped put them in office are now realizing that their kind of obstinate, unbending ideology simply cannot work in Washington, and that they’re now almost gleefully putting the security of our country at risk in order to make a political point.

    Certainly there are people blinded by hate, fear and ignorance who would continue to support them, regardless of how much personal destruction they suffer at the Tea Party’s hands, but many people seem to be suddenly seeing the radical right wing for the dangerous nutjobs they are.

    I continue to hope that the election of 2012 will put to right the terrible imbalance that Washington has experienced since last year, and reward us with a progressive, compassionate, intelligent government that will undo the overwhelming destruction that the right has caused to our economy, our civil rights and to the majority of American citizens.

    The alternative is just too terrifying to contemplate.

    • beth says:

      Ditto what leenie17 says. beth.

    • Cassie Jeep says:

      I keep saying that—to quote a Paul Simon song—” They have a short little span of attention”.

      I continue to hope so!

    • Zyxomma says:

      I agree, but there’s still a huge problem. It’s called the Supreme Court of the United States, and it’s loaded with RWNJs with lifetime appointments. Clarence Thomas should be impeached for having taken cash from Citizens United while trying to get his seat, then not recusing himself when they came before the court. This resulted in the worst SC ruling in our lifetimes. Of course, there are his other crimes and misdemeanors, e.g. “forgetting” to include his wife’s income for YEARS on his financial statement. Alito and Roberts, although not as stupid as Thomas, are just as bad. And they’re young for SC justices. I’ll never forgive O’Connor for retiring when she did; I don’t care what was going on at home. I know that sounds cold, but she betrayed her country.

      • tigerwine says:

        Amen to ll you said, Zyxomma! Now, if Ruth Ginsburg can just hang in there. With all the negativism going on in DC, I can just imagine the hard time the Repubs would give Obama over any nominee he would put forth.

      • John says:

        O’Connor soon regretted her decision as well. I can forgive her for that. I’m less certain about forgiving her for voting to stop the counting of votes in Florida so Shrub could win against Gore.

  13. Cassie Jeep says:

    You know, I really kind of liked it when to be openly prejudiced resulted in shame, chagrin and a charge of being less educated.

    I really thought we’d made some progress.

    Now, it seems it’s suddenly acceptable again to drag all the hate out from under all the rocks that it has apparently continued to live under. I guess it never dies, does it?

    Well, we just have to keep on plugging, Mudpuppies.

    I’m working on the grandchildren now—with LOADS of help from their parents and aunts and uncles. It sure makes a lighter load.

    • leenie17 says:

      It seems to me that hate and prejudice are not only acceptable these days, but they actually seem to be a point of pride for many people.

      I have never witnessed the kind of disrespect toward a President that I’ve seen in the past three years. Even Bush II, who was one of our worst presidents ever, was not shown the same degree of offensive treatment as President Obama has.

      I’ve also never seen the kind of blatant and open vitriol towards so many different groups: the LGBT community, poor people, the unemployed, immigrants, minorities and government workers. When teachers are portrayed as the biggest threat to our economy because of their immense salaries while the mega-rich are making unprecedented levels of income, you know we’ve crossed a line never ventured near before!

      We can only hope that much of the hatred dies out with the older generation, and the next generation is more tolerant and compassionate than many of their ancestors. Thanks for working to make sure the young ‘ens are taught the right way from the start!

      • fishingmamma says:

        I’m with you, Leenie, in that it seems very likely that this rancid evil of hate will die out with our generation. I have spent a lot of time around my son and his friends, and around the kids at the college I am attending, and color is really a non-issue for most of them.

        • CO SMR says:

          Unless, like me, you were attending college in Texas recently. Bigger bunch of jack#$% kids I haven’t had the misfortune to be around in I don’t know how long…

          When we lived outside in Eagle River there were a bunch of kids that would sneak off to the undeveloped area behind our house. Build bonfires and be idiots. Totally destructive idiots, so we called the cops on them time & time again. Guess how many of the parents who came to pick up their kids had religious stuff on their cars? Outnumbered the non-fish cars two to one, at least…

          Haters are raising little haters. Lovers are raising little lovers. My daughter is true blue. I am true blue. Her dad is red red red. They don’t talk politics.

          I don’t want to harsh your mellow, but they don’t grow up in a vacuum, and kids rarely stray too far from the fold, politically. IMHO, of course.

          • CO almost native says:

            Reminds me of the song- from the musical “South Pacific”, I think: “You Have to be Carefully Taught”. Still true…

      • Cassie Jeep says:

        Be careful there! (LOL)

        I AM the older generation….just a bit before my time, apparently.

  14. Zyxomma says:

    Well, they’ve pledged allegiance to Grover Norquist. Anything that isn’t a tax cut is automatically a tax increase. They’re sick in the head, and were elected by know-nothings. I couldn’t stand Ronny Raygun, but this is a great clip.

  15. UgaVic says:

    Thank you for putting this up and ‘out there’!! I will do my best to spread the link far and wide and hopefully some will think again about their views.

  16. Lacy Lady says:

    I am sick and tired of the Tea party– And their slogan——Take our Country Back.
    As far as I know, our County is still here. It hasn’t GONE anywhere, except the Tea Party is trying to take it into the depths of hell!!
    Extremeist in anything is a scarry thing.
    Maybe it is time that we start impeaching these extremist in Congress.

    • teal says:

      …I know….

      They really want to take ‘their’ country backWARD!

      Historically, it’s the NativeAmericans who have that right – to asking for ‘their’ country back…

      Seems that the TP’eers only go back so far when it comes to the history of this country….shoot minorities hardly get mentioned in their version…so to value N.A. History, ain’t gonna happen!

      • Gregg says:

        What? “… minorities hardly get mentioned in their version.” don’t insult yourself. The Tea Party doesn’t talk about minorities because it doesn’t matter. Everyone is a person, period. When you see people as individuals, race nor creed matter. You are not treated as a group, a race, or a society but as an individual. The only people that distinguish between race and minority are the ones that ignore individualism and see society as classes, and races, and a hierarchy. This is the idea of the Tea Party, not some anti-government lies. People that want to uphold the countries founding laws can’t be defined as anti-government.

    • merrycricket says:

      We should all respond in unison, its our country too!

    • Susan says:

      I lived in Vermont 20 years ago in the very early stages of the current gay marriage debates (Vermont was the first state to legalize civil unions, a good start in the right direction). The people against CUs had a grassroots organization and their rallying cry was “Take Back Vermont.” The rest of us went out and bought the bumper stickers that said “Take Vermont Forward.” I still had mine on the car when I drove it here 12 years ago.

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