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The Strange Sexual Obsessions Driving the Tea Party Movement

Much of the Tea Party agenda is driven by white Christian America's deep-seated fears of sex, race and interracial "pollution."

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Since Obama’s 2008 election, Congressional Republicans have engaged in a systematic campaign to block nearly all Obama and Democratic legislative initiatives that would redress the Bush-era fiscal and social crisis. This do-nothing effort has been extremely effective, making all Americans suffer while the rich have prospered and the corporate media obfuscated accountability.

Over the last two years, white, rightwing Christian activists, along with their political shills and media pundits, have rallied to the Tea Party. During this process, a mean-spirited constituency emerged that voices insulating and defamatory comments about the President as well as other black, Hispanic and (Middle-Eastern) Muslim Americans. These statements range from snide depictions of the President and his wife as in the Paladino emails to the belief among some 20 percent of the population that the President is a Muslim or not an American. These comments are not only provocative, but serve a political purpose of galvanizing discontent among a growing segment of older, working- and middle-class white Americans. This movement represents a neo-fascist propensity toward political tyranny.

Race and sex have divided the New World since its founding four centuries ago. Few recall that the first interracial marriage took on April 5, 1614, when Pocahontas, a Powhatan woman and reputed daughter of Chief Powhatan, married the Englishman John Rolfe near Jamestown, VA. Since then, fear about the “pollution” of the nation’s white “stock” has haunted American politics. It underscored the belief in America’s “manifest destiny” as an imperialist power; it framed the pseudo-science of eugenics that lead to a 1927 Supreme Court decision that legalized the sterilization of 60,000 Americans for feeblemindedness; and it inflamed the Klan, fueling its terror and lynching campaigns as well as ‘60s racists.

The great white fear of interracial “pollution” has found is most acute expression with Obama’s president. He is the offspring of not simply an interracial relationship, but an international coupling as well. He is the child of 21st century globalization, the symbolic representation of a hope for a world without boarders, without race prejudice, without white privilege.

In the face of today’s widespread sexual and racial “pollution,” those aligned with the Tea Party are fearful, furious. They are desperately holding onto a fictitious past. They worry that America is becoming a mongrel nation and that their privileged status is vanishing. However unstated, unconscious, there fears might be, Tea Party candidates O'Donnell and Paladino speak to a collective prejudice shared by many Americans. It is fear anchored in 19th century notions of nationhood, racial purity and imperial conquest. It is a prejudice that violates the spirit of what is the great hope of America.

David Rosen is the author of “Sex Scandals America: Politics & the Ritual of Public Shaming” (Key, 2009); he can be reached at drosen@ix.netcom.com.

 
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