Syndicated columnist Leonard Pitts recently wrote a column entitled, Tea party fears a matter of race and more.
I had trouble following Pitt’s logic. He’s responding to a Kieth Olbermann commentary that “scores the tea party movement as the outcry of people who haven’t yet made peace with the fact that their president is black.”
Pitts then goes on to argue that Olbermann has it wrong, or maybe not. In Leonard’s mind, race isn’t a major factor:
The tea party people distrust Obama’s policies, his eloquence, his fierce intelligence and the fact that he is black then becomes the final straw, the difference maker and deal breaker. To put that another way: I doubt most of the tea partiers hate Obama strictly because he is black, but it sure doesn’t help.
So, Olbermann is wrong? Not quite. Pitts continues:
My point is not that Olbermann’s argument is wrong but, rather, that it is incomplete.
So which is it?
Yes, race is obviously a component, and a major component at that, of the reaction against the president.
And to support this point, Pitts writes:
The recurring use of racist imagery and language, the attendance at tea party events of a racist group like the so-called Council of Conservative Citizens, settles that definitively.
I don’t read Pitts often enough to know if he typically has this much trouble sticking to a point within the space of a few paragraphs.
It doesn’t matter much. Either way he’s wrong. So is Olbermann.
I’m currently reading Michael Steele’s excellent book Right Now. I haven’t read as crisp of a communication of conservative principles since Reagan.
In the book, Steele contends that conservatives see society as a collection of individuals that they hold to their individual merits and liberals tend to see it as a collection of groups. Pitts demonstrates the latter view in two ways.
First, he can’t accept the possibility that race is not an issue for tea partiers. Maybe that’s because he views society as a collection of groups and can’t fathom that others don’t.
Second, rather than sit and talk with representative tea partiers and see if he can agree or disagree with their positions on merit, he’d rather brand the entire group unfit with a sophisticated form of name calling, without giving them the benefit of the doubt. I find that strange, because he seems to be from the group that says we should sit down with our opponents to gain an understanding of their position.
As much of Olbermann and Pitts wishes race was the issue, it’s not. Race keeps them from seeing the real issues.
If you want to know what motivates tea partiers, I recommend reading Michael Steele’s book, or the books and columns written by economists Thomas Sowell and Walter Williams or the columns written by Star Parker.
The last three all write weekly columns that are available for free at Townhall.com. Star’s column appears on Mondays, Sowell’s on Tuesdays and Williams’ on Wednesday. I look forward to reading each one every week.
If you read back through this blog, you will find that I hold these peoples’ opinions in high regards and I greatly appreciate their work as, I’m guessing, would a great many tea partiers.
All do a great job of explaining that conservatives believe in individual rights, voluntary interaction between individuals and that we should be skeptical of those who wish to use government power to force their visions onto these individuals and the degrading impact of government dependency.
I’d love to read Leonard Pitts address the issues these leading conservative thinkers write about. That would make for much better reading than the glib name calling he seems to revel in.