A few days ago Keith Olbermann did an interview with comedian Janeane Garafalo in which they wrote off the tea parties that were held this week and the protestors who attended them as being motivated only by a racist hatred of Obama and stating that the protestors somehow lacked intelligence because they questioned the president's policies.
As for Janeane Garofalo's part of the discussion, it's just a fact of life that many people who may have started off on the right side of the issues get sidetracked into the politics of activism, and their own exaggerated sense of intellectual superiority, building their identity around the left or right mold that they themselves and the media have squeezed them into. It's the pack mentality that in its most extreme form manifested during the French and Russian revolutions when the battle against one type of oppression turned itself into an even worse kind. The end result of this phenomenon is that the rebellion allows itself to be transformed into a new, more powerful version of the tyrannical status quo. Like a slimy worm becoming a flapping predatory moth.
That's the story of history and a trap that many have fallen into.
And besides, who really cares what some TV comedian has to say? I mean the glasses she wore were nice and trendy and her posture was certainly confident and self-assured, but when you boil it down it's just another regular person shooting her mouth off. You can get the same thing talking to someone at work or at the local bar. )
But Keith Olbermann---now that really hurts. Because personally I believed in Keith Olbermann. Did I think he was trapped in the right/left paradigm? Yes, somewhat. Did I realize he was working in a business where ratings and money are the most important thing, and that some of his Bush criticism was being supported by MSNBC only out of its strategic attempt to identify itself as the antithesis of Fox News? Sure. Still though, there once seemed to be a glimmer of sincerity in his special comments. Something in the way he disdainfully said "Sir"- that made me and many others think, "hey, here's a guy trying his best to wiggle around some truth while trapped within the confines of his corporate box"-.
But watching him nod and support the utter nonsense of his guest, looking like an insecure guy being given the time of day by a pretty woman, laughing and agreeing with everything she says so that she doesn't go away--that respect is gone. And no I'm not trying to imply he has the hots for Gerafalo, but it appears he does have the hots for the simplistic world view that the mainstream media is trying to sell. The world view that relieves you of the burden of keeping an eye on all the teams playing the game, the disappointment that comes when certain political figures (or TV analysts) let you down, or humbling yourself and having to sometimes admit you were wrong.
The real shame is that there is some truth that is glossed over in this interview. Yes, indeed, the Tea Parties are corporate sponsored, hijacked by Neocons trying to play the role of the rebels so that the opposition can be controlled and acknowledged in a watered down form. But the fact is, in the beginning the tea parties were started by true conservatives during the Bush years, before anyone knew Obama would be president, who were against Bush's policies and would be the first to admit he was the worst president we ever had. They could have discussed how the "official"- tea party leaders tried to control the message and tell party-goers what signs they could bring and not bring--how some did what they wanted to do anyway. How the real tea party people who started the trend don't give a damn about the left or right paradigm but instead cared about seeing America become the good guy country of liberty and rights that they were told it was in their 5th grade social studies classes.
Instead, they portray it as one big Klan rally. That everyone involved is only there because he or she is a racist and doesn'-t like the black president. And then they proceed to exploit the tired tea-bagging joke, exposing themselves as mere entertainers appealing to the lowest denominator of its viewing public instead of as serious journalists.
I didn't go to a tea party. I wanted to go to one to cover it for my page (from the controlled corporate hypocrisy angle discussed above) but my work schedule didn't allow me to. I'm not a racist. Anyone who knows me knows I'm not. Instead of defending myself with examples of why I'm not, I'll just leave it to the fact that only God knows what's in a person's heart, and in the end that's all that really matters.
But I will say this, and I will do it in the fashion of Keith Olbermann's special comments: "A few days ago I commended you, SIR, for criticizing Obama's CIA torture amnesty, even though you made a special point of congratulating him for releasing the memos and not mentioning that it took an ACLU lawsuit for him to do so--and yes, SIR, I let you slide on that one. But now watching you today I can't help but be disgusted and to reflect on the fact that Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr. didn't dedicate their lives and ultimately die so that 40 years later a bunch of white people could exploit their causes to push an unrelated financial agenda, and use this country's sinister history of racism as the net in a politically motivated witch-hunt. You have really shamed yourself and spat on the legacy of the real civil rights movement today, and even though you may not recognize this fact, sir, a lot of your viewers have.
Goodnight, and good luck.