In the wake of the attack on Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in January, when overheated political rhetoric became the subject of overheated national debate (even though it had nothing to do with her shooting), President Obama called for a new era of civility in politics. A National Institute for Civil Discourse was even created to research and promote respectful political dialogue.
Rep. André Carson of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) must not have been paying attention. He is standing by the unconscionable race-baiting he displayed at an Aug. 22 CBC town hall meeting in Miami. In a video compilation of footage from several such events during August, Carson can be heard accusing Congressional Tea Party members of exhibiting the racism of pre-civil rights era legislation:
I’m saying right now, under [CBC] Chairman Emanuel Cleaver’s leadership, we have seen change in Congress… but the tea party is stopping that change. And this is beyond symbolic change. This is the effort that we’re seeing, of Jim Crow.
It gets more outrageous. “Some of these folks in Congress right now would love to see us as second-class citizens,” Carson continued, to supportive cries from the audience. “Some of them in Congress right now with this Tea Party movement would love to see you and me — I’m sorry, Tamron [town hall moderator Tamron Hall from MSNBC] — hanging on a tree.” This last rhetorical flourish earned rousing hoots of agreement from his audience.
Carson’s office defended his remarks by saying they were “prompted in response to frustration voiced by many in Miami and in his home district in Indianapolis regarding Congress’ inability to bolster the economy.” Suggesting that only non-whites are economically disadvantaged, and that the anti-big government Tea Partiers’ agenda is to advance white corporate interests, the spokesman went on to say that
[t]he Tea Party is protecting its millionaire and oil company friends while gutting critical services that they know protect the livelihood of African-Americans, as well as Latinos and other disadvantaged minorities…
So, yes, the congressman used strong language because the Tea Party agenda jeopardizes our most vulnerable and leaves them without the ability to improve their economic standing.
Carson’s remarks came a mere two days after Democrat Rep. Maxine Waters from California, also member of the CBC, said at a California town hall that “the Tea Party can go straight to hell.” This crudity came shortly after both Vice President Joe Biden and Democrat Rep. Mike Doyle were quoted as comparing the Tea Partiers to terrorists (a word Biden later denied using), and after Democrat Rep. Luis Guitierrez called them “arsonists.” Farewell, new era of political civility.
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