By Farooq A. Kperogi
On April 15, American conservatives across the country staged what they called "Tea Party" protests ostensibly to register their remonstrance against President Obama's incipient economic policies. The protesters also railed against America's oppressive taxation.
The "Tea Bag" protests are putatively inspired by and modeled after the 1773 "Boston Tea Party" which is credited with being the immediate trigger of the American Revolution in 1776. The Boston Tea Party, among other things, was a spontaneous resistance against an unfair tax policy by Colonial Britain.
Now, I have no problems whatsoever with yesterday's "tea party" protests by American conservatives. In fact, if there is anything I share with America's fiscal conservatives, it is their professed repulsion against excessive taxation.
Well, I'd always thought that the issue of low taxes should properly be a top issue on the liberal agenda. It seems to me counter-intuitive that conservatives should be concerned about high taxes on the working- and middle-classes since conservatives are notorious for their spectacular lack of compassion, a fact that prompted former President George Bush to famously declare that his administration would inaugurate an era of "compassionate conservatism."
Bush was, of course, not the first person to talk of "compassionate conservatism." That philosophy actually dates back to 1977 when conservative American presidential historian and advisor Doug Wead first mentioned it in his book The Compassionate Touch.
What is important, though, is the fact that some conservatives had (and still have) a need to prefix the adjective "compassionate" to their worldview. This is clearly an admission that compassion and conservatism are mutually incompatible. It would be redundant, for instance, to talk of "compassionate liberalism" because liberalism and compassion are notionally thought of as mutually reinforcing values.
So, I find it a bit surprising that liberals have allowed conservatives to pride themselves on being champions of low taxes. The truth is that conservatives are no champions of low taxes for everyone. The people who drive the American conservative agenda--and not their ignorant, often simpleminded and hate-filled "base"--are only champions of low taxes for big corporations and don't care a hang if the working- and middle-classes are taxed to death.
The only reason Obama's tax plan is drawing the ire of conservatives is because it denudes big corporations of the massive, often unfair, tax breaks they enjoyed under Bush. In spite of the hypocritical protests and criticisms from conservatives, Obama's tax plan is actually the most progressive tax cut in American history. And Obama is, of course, as liberal as the day is long.
“Make no mistake, this tax cut will reach 120 million families and put $120 billion directly into their pockets, and it includes the most American workers ever to get a tax cut,” Obama said in response to duplicitous Republican conservative criticisms of his tax policy. “This tax cut also keeps a fundamental promise, that Americans who work hard should be able to make a decent living.”
He also pointed out that his $787 billion economic stimulus package will deliver a 95 percent tax cut for all working families. And his tax credit, entitled "Making Work Pay," will provide $800 for working households.
So what the hell are these conservatives protesting against in their "tea bag" parties? Where were they when George Bush, a fellow conservative, gave unprecedented tax havens to corporations and almost taxed the working- and middle- classes to death?
Where were they when Bush pigheadedly dragged a prosperous nation to the cesspool of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression? What happened to their fiscal conservative sensibilities when Bush initiated a pointless, even senseless, and unjustified war in Iraq that sucked and continues to suck billions of dollars from American tax payers?
Obama has not even spent 3 months in the White House yet; his economic policies are as yet only evolving and these conservatives who looked the other way when Bush bled their nation to near death are suddenly alive and protesting? Give me a break!
Where have they been for the past 8 years? And why didn't they protest when Bush also proposed billions to stimulate the economy he helped put in a state of coma. The stimulus package that is riling these "tea bag" conservatives isn't even the original idea of the Obama Administration; it was first started by the Bush Administration only a few months back.
So why are the "teabaggers" only now concerned? Why didn't they protest when Bush was president?
Well, if these questions agitate your mind, you need not look further than the pictures below to find answers. The pictures were all taken during the "tea party" protests across the country and speak for themselves.
The caption on this picture, in case you can't read it, is: "Stand aloof while some Kenyan [i.e. Obama] tries to destroy America?...
Is it any wonder that American conservatism is now practically indistinguishable from racism, especially anti-black bigotry? I have met only infinitesimally few self-identified conservatives here who aren't also racists, bigots, xenophobes and simple-minded twerps. A protest that is supposed to be against Obama's economic policies became an avenue for the ventilation of pent-up racist hate.
Now, I don't want to be understood as arguing that any criticism of Obama is evidence of racism. One of America's greatest strengths is the freedom it vests in its citizens to criticize their leaders without fear of consequences. Obama can't be different. He isn't the black president of the United States; he IS the president of the United States and therefore can't be insulated from what comes with the territory.
Anyone who is discomfited with criticisms of Obama would do well to advise him to resign as President of the world's oldest and most vibrant liberal democracy.
However, when criticisms of Obama are inspired by visceral racist bigotry, as many of the pictures above show,it is legitimate to be concerned.This is especially so against the background of the well-documented threats to the life of the President about which I have written on this blog.
Instructively, the "tea party" protests are occurring shortly after the CIA warned that the economic recession is fueling right-wing extremism in the United States, although the recession itself was caused by a former clueless right-wing president.
It is noteworthy, too, that during the "tea party" protests, the governor of the state of Texas, a bastion of some of the most virulent forms of racism and xenophobia, threatened to secede from the United States .