Thursday, April 01, 2010
What do the teabaggers want?
I spent some time looking over the photos on "Look At This Fucking Teabagger dot com," (concept loosely based on the less disturbing site "Look At This Fucking Hipster") which mockuments the signs and people at various rightist "tea party" rallies. I suppose it's cheap to deride these people for their crazy ideas, bad spelling, and questionable taste in attire, but it stops being so amusing after a couple minutes. As I've argued before, I think these people are all about their subtext.
I remember when Bush decided to channel American anger over 9/11 against Iraq. In those days of big-lie-spreading before the U.S. attacked the country it had already been blockading for a decade, there were a handful of very large anti-war rallies in New York. I was surprised at the turnout of many of them: people at work were discussing these rallies and going to them; and I'm not just talking the handful of personal friends who I knew had lefty tendencies. People thought attacking another country, thought war, was wrong. Once the bombs started falling and the tanks started rolling the momentum was lost. It was clear that no amount of popular sentiment was going to stop Bush's juggernaut. Later rallies I witnessed were pretty much all hardcore left sects and a handful of independent people.
So who are these people going out in the streets over what, government spending? In a country where the socialist left is microscopic and disregarded, who are these people who seem to actually believe that the country is being taken over by a new red menace? What is actually motivating these people to get politically involved? Because I don't believe for one moment that these demonstrations are about what they say they are about.
I think these people get closest to honesty when they say that they "want their country back." But what is their country and who is it who has taken it away from them? These are the questions that are seldom articulated, only shouted. Their enemies are called liberals, socialists, communists, fascists; but these accusations sound like so many synonyms for "bad guys."
What I think these people want is White America. They want their English-only society; they want to be deferred to by black people. They want the gays to stop being in their face. They want their picturesque image of the way it should be (please see the source of the image at the top of this post below). They want to not be afraid that they are no longer in control.
How long before the mispelled signs and crazy ideas stop being funny? Ironically new media seems to get what these people really mean, while old media doesn't.
(Art note: I'm not sure I realized, before I saw this 100-bill from the Confederacy, that the Southern side in the civil war actually bragged about slavery. It's hard to infer anything different from the engraving front and center.)