Black “Tea Party” Activist Invites Morgan Freeman To Rally
The meme that the “Tea Party” (and by implication all who oppose or criticize President Obama) are racists has become an unfortunately common fixture in the current American political mileau. The racism accusation has become a standard, predictable response from the left wing the same way that “socialist” has become a standard, predictable response from the right wing any time someone proposes health care reform.
Beloved actor and activist Morgan Freeman lent the racism slander an megaphone when he insisted that the “Tea Party” was racist to its core. But now an African-American “Tea Party” activist has issued a personal invitation to Freeman to come experience the real “Tea Party” before judging it based on mere media memes.
I’ve attended dozens of tea party events. I’ve helped organize them, and I’ve even spoken at a few. The tea party is not what is often depicted in the news. It is people of all colors who are terribly concerned about the direction that America is heading. We don’t trust big government to make decisions for us. And we fear that the present administration’s spending is going to lead our country down a path to insolvency, much like what Greece is currently facing.
Your comments about the tea party have caused me physical pain. You’ve rekindled the old painful paradigm of Uncle Tom – that any black man who votes Republican is some kind of sellout. It’s not true. I work hard, pay my taxes, love Jesus, and I’m good to my family and community. In effect, your comments have stereotyped an entire group of people. And I know in my soul that you must regret that on some level.
The invitation carries broader implications as well. As seen in the growing vitriol in the blogosphere, many politically active Americans are increasingly prone to react to any political disagreement with direct personal abuse. The process of political discussion and debate has often become a degrading experience where those who express unpopular opinions have to be prepared for accusations, name-calling, vulgarity, and even threats.
The invitation to Freeman, coming as it does from a position of respect for disagreement and understanding of how different people with different life paths come to legitimately different conclusions, represents a model that we should all seek to imitate more. Political disagreement doesn’t need to be personal, vulgar, or hateful. And respect doesn’t require compromising deeply-held beliefs. As I have seen in law school, it is possible for people of good conscience to express and debate strongly opposing beliefs without assaulting each other’s character, intelligence, and motives.
But the broader trends are not good.