May 15, 2010

"An obscure assistant professor teaching in a middling university writes an opinion piece comparing the Tea Party movement to the John Birch Society..."

"... indeed, even to the Ku Klux Klan — and Politico Arena asks us to take it seriously for comment?!"

Cato via Instapundit. I'd already seen that piece — "Tea party: Dark side of conservatism" —  but I hadn't blogged it because I didn't want to impinge on my good mood to take the trouble to summon up the degree of contempt it would have required. The writer, Charles Postel, an assistant professor of history at San Francisco State University, wields 19th-century history for the purpose of demonstrating that the Tea Party is racist, and says things like "The tea party leaders disavow any racist appeals from their ranks. But historically, whether it was the JBS or Goldwater, the radical right has often had a soft spot for bigots." So, in other words, the Tea Party must be prejudiced about people like this because he's prejudiced about people like that. All purveyed under the banner of academic expertise.

55 comments:

J.R. said...

I found his contempt ridiculous. But he is from San Francisco, so he lives in liberal isolation from the rest of America.

c3 said...

That's my narrative and I'm stickin' to it!

edutcher said...

"Tea party: Dark side of conservatism" - when did the Lefties ever see a bright side of Conservatism?

Given the contemptuous paternalism they show for blacks and Mexicans (I'd say Hispanics, but Cubans don't have much to do with them), you wonder when they're ever going to take a long look in the mirror, but JR has it right.

Ann Althouse said...

I hadn't blogged it because I didn't want to impinge on my good mood to summoning up the degree of contempt it would have required.

Your muse is smiling these days; school must be out.

GMay said...

Let's call it "Postel's Law": as political discussion grows longer, the probability of calling your opponent a racist approaches 1.

reductio ad racism

rhhardin said...

A lot of good leftist rhetoric - the sort of thing other leftists say "right on!" about, the right words having finally been found - has the disadvantage of being false.

This cuts down a lot on its punchline power.

Truth is so important in humor.

c3 said...

when did the Lefties ever see a bright side of Conservatism?

The only good conservative is a dead conservative

(i.e. this is how Goldwater REALLY felt about the religious right or Reagan knew how to reach across the aisle; he didn't demonize the opposition)

Hagar said...

I get considerably confused these days as to what should be considered "left" and "right" or "liberal" and "conservative," but "conservatives" in the Beacon Hill sense never did show any great propensity for rioting in the streets, did they?
And the Fascists and National Socialists were not exactly "conservative" in any sense of the word, were they?

Paddy O. said...

Ah, but he's a little bit less obscure today.

It's hard for an assistant professor to stand out!

Paco Wové said...

"It's hard for an assistant professor to stand out!"

I'm sure the tenure committee will lap it up!

traditionalguy said...

The common ancestor to JBS and KKK and that not to be mentioned 12 year German Reich is a compelling idea called eugenics which is the "Scientific" arm of Social Darwinism. It is so compelling to the pride of men and women that it will not disappear, but it changes shape as we last saw in the John Birchers/Rand Paul brotherhood. So the Tea Partiers are at risk of accepting some terrible doctrines and compromising with some smiling evil leaders. Let's hope instead that they follow a Sarah Palin style of Americanism and not get drawn in by the deceptions of the old time Eugenics monsters dressed up like libertarians.

Ann Althouse said...

"impinge on my good mood to summoning"

Sorry for the garbled writing. Fixed in the post now.

Quayle said...

The regents of San Francisco State University are getting ripped off by this hippie.

He's trying to think but nothing is happening.

Nothing, except the lame old platitudes of the left

...blah blah blah racist blah blah hateful blah blah blah capitalist blah blah....

Dark Eden said...

Charges of racism is all they have left.

"Don't listen to them because they're ______'s."

What else can they say?

Ritmo Brasileiro said...

Must?

traditionalguy said...

This dude is presuming that today's Tea Partiers are going to fall for the old John Birch Society addictions without any evidence that they have or that they will. But a discussion of that issue is healthy for Tea Partiers who may think their movement cannot be tricked. It is not about racism; but it is about the weak people and the strong people's relationship within social groups. That often seems to translate into a race issue, but it is never a race issue at its core. At its core it is always the strong claiming a right to eliminate the weak to prevent embarrassment. Traditionally Americans protect and fight for the weak. So the Tea Partiers will not fall for this unless they get bad leadership cutting compromises with it.

William said...

It's fair enough to observe that racism, sexism, homophobia exist in America. These evils are more a function of our humanity than our ideology. There is no visible evidence that a left wing ideology diminishes their strength. Leftists worked hard for the election of Bill Clinton and John Edwards in order to advance the position of women in America. (Insert joke.) The round up of Japanese during WWII was very much a New Deal program and was opposed by the conservative Robert Taft. Even the Palmer Raids occurred during the progressive regime of Woodrow Wilson. Wilson sent Norman Thomas to jail, and Harding set him free. Throughout the twenties and thirties Russia was more a cause than a country, and the despicable crimes of Stalin were not just ignored or explained but actually praised by our artists and intellectuals....The failures of the left have only seemed to increase their self confidence and self rightousness. A conservative is aware that a too earnest pursuit of a buck can lead to many pitfalls. But no leftist is aware of the anger and venality that underlie so many of their ideals. People like Jeremy actually think they're tolerant.

PatCA said...

He'll get tenure for sure now.


WV: hustryi - his peculiar view of history.

roesch-voltaire said...

Yes I guess this populist movement does not fall for the trick of fighting for the general good, or the weaker, and therefore the professor misses the point-- confusing that with racism. Why just recently the Tea Party in Maine ripped down a poster in an 8th grade classroom that featured Norman Rockwell's historic Four Freedoms' illustrations as part of a history of labour. Clearly that action was not racist.

Bob_R said...

Well, he won the Bancroft Prize. That's always an indicator of objective scholarship and solid research.

mariner said...

Academic expertise, not to mention intelligence, tolerance, and moral superiority.

Jeremy said...

The Tea Baggers are just as described: Bigoted, racist ultra-conservatives who think they want small government, yet take full advantage of the same "government" sponsored benefits and services they say represent wasteful spending of tax dollars.

They whine about people of color and the poor for taking advantage of what they like to describe as wasteful "government" giveaways, while collecting the very same benefits and services such as unemployment, Medicare, Medicaid, etc.

I still want to see a video of photograph that represents more than a sprinkling of people attending these ridiculous Tea Bagger functions that are not WHITE.

Jeremy said...

Dark - "What else can they say?"

That they're full of shit?

Jeremy said...

J.R. said..."I found his contempt ridiculous. But he is from San Francisco, so he lives in liberal isolation from the rest of America."

So you think one of the most intellectually and culturally diverse cities in the entire world is "isolated" from the rest of America...because of this person's opinion?

Get out much?

Eric said...

The tea partiers actually do a pretty good job of distancing themselves from the wackos.

It's a shame academia doesn't.

Penny said...

Rather than reading the blather, go read the NYT/CBS poll and check out the results for yourselves.

GMay said...

Jeremy, I'm considering becoming a teabagger just so you can finally have that pair of balls you so deperately want to suck.

Adam said...

Postel is shockingly (almost certainly willfully) ignorant of the New Deal coalition, which left Jim Crow unchallenged in exchange for a Solid (Democratic) South.

Jim Lindgren's careful analysis of the General Social Surveys conducted by the National Opinion Research Center finds that the actual racists are disproportionately found among those who hold pro-redistribution, anti-free-market views.

Those familiar with Jeremy's rants here will be unsurprised by Lindgren's finding that "compared to anti-redistributionists, strong redistributionists have about two to three times higher odds of reporting that in the prior seven days they were angry, mad at someone, outraged, sad, lonely, and had trouble shaking the blues."

edutcher said...

'Twould appear Jeremy is manning the projector today.

c3 said...

when did the Lefties ever see a bright side of Conservatism?

The only good conservative is a dead conservative


That's the way they think, but, since they're so tolerant and compassionate, they haven't got the self-awareness to realize it - or the honesty to come out an say it.

roesch-voltaire said...

Yes I guess this populist movement does not fall for the trick of fighting for the general good, or the weaker

Interesting how, when the Lefties fight for "the weaker", the weaker get progressively more so; and the "greater good" increasingly involves abusing a sector of the populace that disagrees with them.

themightypuck said...

I don't know much about history, but the author of the piece gets credit for actually making an argument and his detractors lose credit for attacking his credentials instead.

Stephen said...

Why not read something based on 21st century data, Professor Althouse? Pretty clear that tea partiers tend to be toward the extreme on race, even if you control for their underlying conservatism. It's simply not just about small government, at least for many of them.

http://depts.washington.edu/uwiser/racepolitics.html

GMay said...

themightypuck said: "I don't know much about history..."

Am I the only one that sang this as I read it?

GMay said...

Stephen, it all depends on whose data you choose to believe.

Make a better case.

Ann Althouse said...

@Stephen Why not read something on how to do a link in html code?

Adam said...

@Stephen,

The survey analysis you've cited measures "racial resentment" mostly in terms of whether people agree or disagree with the premise that it is racism that impedes the economic progress of African Americans.

So what we've got here, perhaps unsurprisingly given the study's sponsorship by an Institute for the Study of Ethnicity, Race, & Sexuality, is that "racial resentment" = disagreement with the Democratic Party's social agenda. And what is found is that Tea Party supporters are more likely than Tea Party opponents to oppose that agenda.

Thanks for the 21st Century info.

Joe said...


Why just recently the Tea Party in Maine ripped down a poster in an 8th grade classroom that featured Norman Rockwell's historic Four Freedoms' illustrations as part of a history of labour. Clearly that action was not racist.


Incoherent. Is this satire or support? If satire, ASSUMING this happened, how does it "prove" racism? If support thank you for agreeing that the Tea Party Movement isn't racist....

Stick with world-class environmental engineering.

somefeller said...

It's funny how conservatives suddenly turn into school snobs when a professor from "a middling university" writes something critical about them. Had this professor written the same thing from a perch at a top-tier university, I'm sure the criticism would be that he was just expressing the elitism of such schools. Heads I win, tails you lose, in other words.

With regard to the merits of his article, I'd agree he probably went overboard by bringing in 19th century history. However, his discussion of the John Birch Society and groups like it is on-point. He gives specific examples of positions that the John Birch Society supported and that many in the modern Tea Party movement do. Also, it's worth noting that John Birch Society has had something of a renaissance of late, and was a co-sponsor of the last CPAC national convention. If they and people like them aren't a part of the conservative coalition, one wouldn't see such things.

Last, the line about "historically, whether it was the JBS or Goldwater, the radical right has often had a soft spot for bigots" can be easily supported. All one must do is see how things went in voting trends in the South in the 1964 Presidential election or read essays like the famous "Why the South Must Prevail" essay in National Review for some historical context on that. This professor isn't saying that all conservatives are racists or that conservatism equals racism. He is pointing out something undeniable, however, in pointing out that the conservative movement has had something of a bigot problem. Lots of thoughtful conservatives (like the late Jack Kemp) wouldn't deny that, and I seem to recall RNC chief Michael Steele making some impolitic comments about the GOP's Southern Strategy.

Penny said...

"Am I the only one that sang this as I read it?"

You mean you weren't also dancing with Harrison Ford in an Amish barn while singing this song?

The Drill SGT said...

PatCA can confirm that SFSU has a reputation for trying to out radical UC Berkeley, but with a faculty that lacks the intellect of its better known cousin across the bay.

FIRE has had to complain a number of times about their differential speech "civility and speech codes".

Burning US flags is fine. stepping on a Hamas flag will bring you up on charges.
----------------
My favorite line from the article was

Today, local and state governments are hemorrhaging jobs and slashing essential services


funny, The stats I see show that government sector has gained jobs during the recession. It's private sector employment that is in the tank.

Adam said...

The success of the Republicans' "Southern Strategy" demonstrates the importance of racism in holding together the New Deal coalition. In 1964, for the first time in the history of the Republican Party, Southern whites' votes were up for grabs, not because the Republicans were racists but because Northern Democrats had finally stopped abetting segregation.

What the Southern Strategy shows is that when segregationists who are for low taxes are unable to vote in accordance with their racial views, they vote in accordance with their economic views. What Jim Lindgren's data show is that when segregationists who are otherwise for redistribution are unable to vote in accordance with their racial views, they also vote in accordance with their economic views. Race per se has nothing to do with either side's views, but one side insists on this McCarthyite approach.

Penny said...

Somefellow, I could care less where he went to school or even IF he went to school. The guy wrote an opinion piece, that he says was based on facts garnered from an opinion poll of tea partiers. It was no wonder he didn't link to the results, because it would have been too easy to see how he was making declarative statements of fact that were anything BUT.

Perhaps even more infuriating is that he got any further visibility for his self-serving bullshit from sites such as Politico, Cato, Instapundit and Althouse.

If I wanted to watch a circle jerk, I'd go to some teen boys' camp, or better yet, Google that.

edutcher said...

somefeller said...

It's funny how conservatives suddenly turn into school snobs when a professor from "a middling university" writes something critical about them. Had this professor written the same thing from a perch at a top-tier university, I'm sure the criticism would be that he was just expressing the elitism of such schools.

It's even funnier how a phony cracker barrel sage thinks he can get away with saying conservatives are school snobs when only 1 of the comments critical of the piece mentions his place of employment and the rest go after what he said, some in considerable detail.

LilyBart said...

"Pretty clear that tea partiers tend to be toward the extreme on race, even if you control for their underlying conservatism."

Evidence, please.

Craig said...

They whine about people of color and the poor for taking advantage of what they like to describe as wasteful "government" giveaways, while collecting the very same benefits and services such as unemployment, Medicare, Medicaid, etc.

Well, I don't know about the Medicaid bit -- most of the tea-partiers appear to be gainfully employed. But, yes, they do accept Social Security, Medicare and unemployment benefits when necessary. After all, they've paid into them their entire working lives.

According to the Democrats, those programs are not welfare -- they're insurance! It's what we've always been told. Interesting that the story's now changed and they're nothing more than government giveaways that the hateful, hypocritical tea-partiers are only too happy to accept.

By the way, I'm in favor of a flat tax with no deductions. Nevertheless, I've always taken the mortgage deduction on my income tax return. I suppose that makes me a hypocrite in your eyes.

David said...

Postel is not obscure. He is a somebody in Hacademia. He actually won a Bancroft Price in 2008. (It's no longer THE Bancroft Prize, because they give it out to two or three people a year.)

The Bancroft Prize is--or at least used to be--a big deal among historians.

dbp said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
GMay said...

Adam,

The thing I like about Stephen's source is the language used to present the data. I don't think I've ever seen a data so corrupted by its presentation before.

For example, it opens with:

"Many believed that the election of Barack Obama brought to a close the long, painful, and ugly history of race and racism in the United States."

Is this sort of emotional buildup necessary in a somewhat formal presentation of data? This should already alert the reader that something isn't quite right. Whatever that is, it's answered in the following sentence:

"But as the incident with Henry Louis Gates last summer, and the more recent outbursts of the Tea Party activists suggest, racial divisions remain."

Are you serious? This is based on so much subjective crap as to call into question the integrity of the data right off the bat. Nope, no agenda here!

I stopped counting at '8' in three paragraphs the authors' use of the term "true believers" to describe those who strongly believe in "the movement". This is just garbage.

It's not too hard to keep dissecting the language of the presentation, but those two glaring examples above are enough to make me question the integrity of the findings.

The main flaw is the failing of the report to establish what the so-called "mainstream" view is in any meaningful way. The middle statistic in the first graph is just comical - it's not racist, it's just a statement of fact and the fact that the authors consider it racist is quite telling.

ricpic said...

Yes, it's terribly racist not to want your nest egg wiped out or stolen, take your pick.

rcocean said...

Wow, a SF state Professor attacks the Tea Party Movement!

Shocking, and completely unexpected. I wonder if the other SF professors helped him write it - since 99 percent feel the same way.

Like someone said, its hard to stand out when you're a conformist.

AC245 said...

Postel won the Bancroft prize? I guess that puts him in the same illustrious category as fabulist Michael Bellesiles.

How sad that it's not even mildly surprising any more to see liberal "academics" fabricating evidence and misrepresenting facts in their efforts to demonize opponents and push a political agenda.

More of the long march needs to be rolled back.

kynefski said...

An obscure academic leftist screed on Politico, for Christ's sake?

Man, it's getting harder and harder for the crowd here to sustain their righteous indignation, eh?

Or maybe not.

dbp said...

"When they claim that a moderate American president is a “Communist,”"

Moderate? Only a university professor could think Obama is moderate. Communist? Sure. A few people have called the President a Communist, therefore, sure--the whole TEA Party represents this view. By the same "logic" can I surmise that all Democrats subscribe to the "9-11 was an inside job" theory? Since some did, or do believe such rubbish.

Now that I think of it, there was a lecturer at UW who was a prominent truther, hence all university teachers are truthers too and since Charles Postel teaches at a university, he also must be a truther.

I for one, am not going to take seriously anything a truther writes.

Wow! It is so easy to write BS and I am doing it sans Bancroft prize.

dick said...

Traditionalguy,

Eugenics is also the common thread with Planned Parenthood and the KKK and the JBS. Strange how that works out and explains a lot of things.

damikesc said...

I thought that harsh rhetoric can make people more extreme, as the Left said all during Bushs term about his policy on militant Islam. Either they don't buy it, or they hope to turn a massive political movement into a violent extreme movement for political gain

sonicfrog said...

The tea partiers came to protest federal action. Today, local and state governments are hemorrhaging jobs and slashing essential services. The tea partiers are boiling mad because of the stimulus bill meant to stop the bleeding.

What a tard! The Tea Party is about reversing the trend of irresponsible reckless fiscal policy by both state and federal government, which is the reason why they are "hemorrhaging jobs and slashing essential services". Note that the writer actually hit on an unmentionable truth; that the stimulus was always about propping up government jobs, not those in the private sector! Note too that the private sector is starting to recover, yet the public sector, even with the cash give-a-way they called a stimulus package, is still marred in financial crisis.

Fen said...

Using the Charles Libtard's standard:

Blacks are the most racist demographic in America [FBI hate crime stats].

And 90% of them vote Democrat.

Democrats are racist pigs.