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Prison Populism? Tea Party Populists Keep the Races Divided for the Benefit of the Rich

By       Message Linn Washington     Permalink
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opednews.com Headlined to H3 12/24/10

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The prospect of broadcast agitator Glen Beck recommending that his audience read a book with "Black Power' in the title might seem less likely than President Obama standing up to the right-wing onslaught he faces daily.

Yet, just as America needs a President Obama who doesn't castigate critics in his base while constantly caving into his GOP bashers, Beck's audience needs insights from the historic facts contained in one passage of the 1967 book "Black Power: The Politics of Liberation in America."

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That single passage could show many among Beck's audience that they've been "played.'   That's urban parlance for deceived"or what, in the Wild West, would have been called hornswoggled.

That passage in question refers to the early 1890s, when severe recession and racial animus roiled America -" a nation then as now steeped in extraordinary disparities in income between the financial elites and regular folks of all races.

Some of those in the early 1890s who were wading through the waters of economic deprivation did the unthinkable for that era: they looked beyond skin color to see a class interest among those of all races being similarly exploited by big-money interests.

That book passage presents an observation from a Georgia Congressman who was a leading populist of that time.

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"You are deceived and blinded that you may not see how this race antagonism perpetuates a monetary system which beggars both," Tom Watson wrote in 1892.

"You are made to hate each other because upon that hatred is rested the keystone of the arch of financial despotism which enslaves you both," Watson noted. "You are kept apart that you may be separately fleeced of your earnings."

Glen Beck and other right-wing manipulators are great at inflaming Tea Party-types against natural alliances across skin-color-lines thus sacrificing their self-interest in furtherance of economic interests sought by the wealthy who hold all outside their class strata with contempt.

Since 99 percent of Tea Party faithful are not wealthy, they are targeted for contempt by the wealthy as surely as are the blacks and other minorities that many Tea Party members hold in contempt.

The wealthy interests that bankroll the Tea Party and push the buttons of their front-men like Beck see a class interest in beggaring U.S. living standards down towards Third World levels.

The Beck's across America abuse their faithful by blinding them to this beggaring process.

Consider the federal estate tax that had Tea Party members in a tizzy during this past election season. The Tea Party was demanding its repeal, supposedly to enable them to will their hard-earned financial legacies to their offspring without giving a big slice of that small pie to Uncle Sam.

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The reality, though: 99 percent of all estates in the U.S. owe no estate taxes, according to the non-partisan Tax Policy Center.   The law already exempted the first $2 million in assets from taxation--$4 million for a married couple!

So the Tea Party push that enabled the GOP to make President Obama blink once again in the recently approved tax package that extended Bush-era tax cuts for two more years, secured estate tax breaks sought by the wealthy that only benefitted their class by raising the exemption to the first $5 million in assets per person (and $10 million per couple).

Those recently approved tax breaks overwhelmingly benefitted the wealthy -" again -" and will heap billions of dollars onto the federal budget deficit. Reducing that deficit was supposedly the centerpiece of "reforms" being pushed by the Tea Party.

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Linn Washington is a weekly columnist for the Philadelphia Tribune and This Can't Be Happening. Washington writes frequently on inequities in the criminal justice system, ills in society and failings of the news media. He teaches multi-media urban (more...)
 

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