by CHARLES M. BLOW
On Thursday [April 15th], I came here outside Dallas for a Tea Party rally.
At first I thought, “Wow! This is much more diverse than the rallies I’ve seen on television.”
Then I realized that I was looking at stadium workers. I should have figured as much when I approached the gate. The greeter had asked, “Are you working tonight?”
I sat in the front row. But when the emcee asked, “Do we have any infiltrators?” and I almost raised my hand, I realized that sitting there might not be such a good idea.
I had specifically come to this rally because it was supposed to be especially diverse. And, on the stage at least, it was. The speakers included a black doctor who bashed Democrats for crying racism, a Hispanic immigrant who said that she had never received a single government entitlement and a Vietnamese immigrant who said that the Tea Party leader was God. It felt like a bizarre spoof of a 1980s Benetton ad.
The juxtaposition was striking: an abundance of diversity on the stage and a dearth of it in the crowd, with the exception of a few minorities like the young black man who carried a sign that read “Quit calling me a racist.”
They saved the best for last, however: Alfonzo “Zo” Rachel. According to his Web site, Zo, who is black and performs skits as “Zo-bama,” allowed drugs to cost him “his graduation.” Before ripping into the president for unconstitutional behavior, he cautioned, “I don’t have the education that our president has, so if I misinterpret some things in the founding documents I kind of have an excuse.” That was the understatement of the evening.
I found the imagery surreal and a bit sad: the minorities trying desperately to prove that they were “one of the good ones”; the organizers trying desperately to resolve any racial guilt among the crowd. The message was clear: How could we be intolerant if these multicolored faces feel the same way we do?
It was a farce. This Tea Party wanted to project a mainstream image of a group that is anything but. A New York Times/CBS News poll released on Wednesday found that only 1 percent of Tea Party supporters are black and only 1 percent are Hispanic. It’s almost all white.
And even when compared to other whites, their views are extreme and marginal. For instance, white Tea Party supporters are twice as likely as white independents and eight times as likely as white Democrats to believe that Barack Obama was born in another country.
Furthermore, they were more than eight times as likely as white independents and six times as likely as white Democrats to think that the Obama administration favors blacks over whites.
Thursday night I saw a political minstrel show devised for the entertainment of those on the rim of obliviousness and for those engaged in the subterfuge of intolerance. I was not amused.
Charles M. Blow is a New York Times Columnist and nationally-known commentator: “I invite you to visit my blog By The Numbers, join me on Facebook and follow me on Twitter, or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.”