It's Not That You're Racist...


It's that you're stupid:


The term "tea-bagger" is like uttering the "n" word, some say. Though he aspires to promote civility, evidence has surfaced that President Obama has added "tea-bagger" to his public lexicon, though it's considered a cheap and tawdry insult by "tea party" activists. Watchdogs at Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) barked when they saw the proof, tucked in a sneak peak of Newsweek columnist Jonathan Alter's new book, "The Promise: President Obama, Year One," to be released May 18. Indeed, it appears the president joined certain partisan critics and the liberal media, and took the tea-bag plunge.
"This remark is the equivalent of using the 'n' word. It shows contempt for middle America, expressed knowingly, contemptuously, on purpose, and with a smirk. It is indefensible to use this word. The president knows what it means, and his people know what it means. The public thought we reached a new low of incivility during the Clinton administration. Well, the Obama administration has just outdone them," ATR president Grover Norquist tells Inside the Beltway.
I'm a limited man. I'm not going to be an expert on history, foreign policy, health care reform, science and national security. A lot of my politics work on the basis of trust. I don't trust everything written by any old liberal. I trust a small group, and you can get a sense of who that is by who a link to when I'm out my depth.

This works the other way too. It's called brand erosion. If you claim that the Earth is flat, then everything else out of your mouth is suspect to me. To wit, Grover Norquist thinks that  "tea-bagger" is the equivalent of "nigger." I think Grover Norquist is the equivalent of a flat-earther. 


Time is short and if your political strategy amounts to banking on the stupid factor, I'm going to assume that much of everything else you're peddling is the same. Perhaps you have a good case to build around the shocking size of government. Perhaps there really is an intelligent argument against the estate tax. But a shocking number of people who would make that argument, are not smart enough to see the difference between using the term "Negro" and wishing that white supremacy had won out.  Either that or they think that their audience isn't smart enough.

You say "We're not racist."  Fair enough, I take you at your word. But that still leaves unsettled a much more disturbing question--Are you this fucking stupid? 
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Ta-Nehisi Coates is a national correspondent at The Atlantic, where he writes about culture, politics, and social issues. He is the author of the memoir The Beautiful Struggle.

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