Chris Matthews: Does Tea Party Want America Where 'There Are No Gays, Blacks Were Slaves, Mexicans Were in Mexico'?
Two days after Chris Matthews and fellow MSNBCer Joy-Ann Reid suggested that participants at CPAC supported segregation, the liberal host was back at it on Wednesday's Hardball, when he brought on two liberal guests to slam the Tea Party's supposedly “racist” and “xenophobic” mentality. Matthews wondered: "Is it sort of a resumption of the Old South, of the way things were before the Civil War for example? Is it like that old dreamy nostalgia you get in the old movies Gone With The Wind? Is it that kind of America they want to bring back or what? When there were no gays, where blacks were slaves, Mexicans were in Mexico. I mean, is this what they want?"
Matthews then allowed Christopher Parker, author of the book, Change They Can't Believe In: The Tea Party and Reactionary Politics in America, to slam the Tea Party as practicing "reactionary conservatism" akin to the “Klan of the 1920s.”
Matthews continued to spew his anti-Tea Party bile, commenting that:
We have made a real effort to show the face of the Tea Party. All the placards up there, the sort of Hitler mustaches, the black face, if you will, superimposed on the face of Barack Obama. These obvious racial canards that keep popping up in the visuals.
Matthews then asked documentary filmmaker Kevin Dotson, who captured video from CPAC:
Why would an African American whose history comes from freedom basically the insistence by the federal government on civil rights against state rights, why on the issue just the basic ethnicity in history why would a person want to identify with a group that is basically pro-states rights?
Matthews' disgust for the Tea Party didn't stop there, he went on to openly call the organization racist:
Why would somebody who is white care about whether the country is white 100 years from now? They're not going to be here. And the people who are here will be comfortable with it. It will be their country. It will be different than theirs. Your nature will change with the country's nature. It does sound like pure racism. If you want the country to be tribally white 100 years from now.
See relevant March 20 transcript below:
5:38 p.m. EDT
CHRIS MATTHEWS: Welcome back to Hardball. One of the more unsettling takeaways from this week's or last week's CPAC conference was a video from a breakout session called trump the race card. Are you sick and tired of being called a racist when you say, actually when you know you're not one? Well on Monday we showed a short clip from that event where a participant suggested slaves should have been thankful for free food and lodging during those hundreds of years of slavery. In fact three or four hundred years. It turns out a documentary producer was in the room as well and there’s more video of the exchange. Let's watch.
SCOTT TERRY: It seems to me like you're reaching out to voters, with the program that you're offering us, at the expense of young white southern males like myself, my demographic. My problem is why can't we be more like Booker T. Washington Republicans. Mistakenly what's being unified.
K. CARL SMITH: They call Booker T. Washington the second Frederick Douglass. Frederick Douglass was the originator. Okay? So when you say Douglass, Douglass was not—
TERRY: How about unity and diversity?
SMITH: What about that? Douglass talked about that.
TERRY: Why can’t we be segregated?
SMITH: Give you an example. Here's an example. When Douglass escaped from slavery, I think 10 years or 20 years after he escapes from slavery, he writes a letter to his former slave master and said, I forgive you, for all the things you did to me.
TERRY: Forgiving for giving him shelter and food all them years?
MATTHEWS: In a moment we'll be joined by Kevin Dotson who is producing that documentary for which that video was shot, called Black Tea, about black members, members actual members of the Tea Party. With us now is Christopher Parker he’s professor of political science at the University of Washington and author of the upcoming book "Change They Can't Believe In: The Tea Party and Reactionary Politics in America." Thanks so much for joining us. It seems to me that when a lot of us who work on this show and have watched this program we have made a real effort to show the face of the Tea Party. All the placards up there, the sort of Hitler mustaches, the black face, if you will, super imposed on the face of Barack Obama. These obvious racial canards that keep popping up in the visuals. What is your study tell you about the nature of the racial piece here of the Tea Party?
CHRISTOPHER PARKER: Well, thanks for having me, Chris. My study suggests that there is a strain of racism in the Tea Party going all of the way back to when the study began in 2010. That there's definitely a racist strain but it goes beyond racism, it goes to homophobia then xenophobia as well, Chris.
MATTHEWS: Well let's talk about how they all fit together.
MATTHEWS: Is it sort of a resumption of the Old South, of the way things were before the Civil War for example. Is it like that old dreamy nostalgia you get in the old movies "Gone With The Wind"? Is it that kind of America they want to bring back or what? When there were no gays, where blacks were slaves, Mexicans were in Mexico. I mean, is this what they want?
PARKER: That's precisely the case, Chris. What we've found out and we’ve come up with something that we called reactionary conservatism. And what that means is whereas a regular conservative or more mainstream conservative recognizes change is necessary to avoid revolutionary change. Reactionary conservative actually wants to go back in time. And in the book we tie the Tea Party to the No Nothing Party of the 1850s, the Klan of the 1920s. The John Burch Society of the late 1950s and 1960s. It's the same -- it's the same belief system, Chris. This idea that they're scared of losing the America that they know and love to these other groups of people.
MATTHEWS: Yeah, they go back further to the no nothings. You know that history. That's before the Civil War. Let me go to the other voice here. Kevin Dotson, you're working on a film. What have you discovered so far in your filmmaking your documentary sir about the black, the attitude towards blacks within the Tea Party, the attitude of blacks toward the Tea Party, if you will.
KEVIN DOTSON: Well the attitude of blacks towards the Tea Party within the Tea Party obviously is very favorable. They're involved in Tea Party for very interesting reasons, that are -- that have to do with morality, that have to do with conservative values. A number of them it has to do with fiscal conservatism.
MATTHEWS: Yeah. Because the Tea Party seems to be, if anything, anti-federal government. Why would an African-American whose history comes from freedom basically the insistence by the federal government on civil rights against state rights, why on the issue just the basic ethnicity in history why would a person want to identify with a group that is basically pro-states rights?
DOTSON: That's actually one of the questions that compelled me to make this documentary. I first became interested in it because I saw Dr. Alveda King giving the keynote address at Glenn Beck's rally in 2010 on the anniversary of the "I Have a Dream" speech and I became really fascinated. Like why is she involved in it and why are a number of other black people that I found. I found Herman Cain, I found a number of other black people who take different roles, from everyday people, the two or three that I found in the crowd at Tea Party rallies and conventions to people that are on stage, people who are political pundits, people who are behind political candidates or now senators in Texas, for instance.
DOTSON: It's a very fascinating question and one that the documentary is still exploring.
MATTHEWS: Good luck with your documentary. Let me go back to Chris. It seems to me if you look at the issues about not everybody in the Tea Party, a lot of them are mad at government spending. I completely understand that. It is out of hand. We always have deficits, we always have debt. How can you worry about that? But they do seem to be integrally involved in the cultural right a lot of xenophobia, a lot of we don't want anybody else coming to this country.
PARKER: Yeah, yeah, that's -- that's true, Chris. It's this idea that they're losing their country. They fear change. They fear -- they're anxious about the change that we see. We see the browning of America. We see, you know, the gay rights movement is proceeding at pace. You know, we saw the first female speaker of the house not too long ago. So it's this change that they have a problem dealing with, Chris. And let me get to the point about—
MATTHEWS: Why would somebody care? I’ve always wondered about this. Do a little of this psychobabble if you will. Why would somebody who is white care about whether the country is white 100 years from now? They're not going to be here. And the people who are here will be comfortable with it. It will be their country. It will be different than theirs. Your nature will change with the country's nature. It does sound like pure racism. If you want the country to be tribally white 100 years from now. I don't know why a black person would care 100 years from now there not going to be here either. Why do people get into this speculative thinking about what the country is going to be like in 100 years or whatever? I don't get that exactly. What do you think?
PARKER: When we think about what the phonotypical American is, and this has been shown throughout the social science literature and historical literature. Typical American phenotype is white, male, protestant, straight, married. Right? So when we think about any departure from this phenotype is considered the other or considered un-American, whereas that phenotype considers himself to be the real Americans. So they fear this change. This loss of their lifestyle is slipping away. This sort of white male protestant lifestyle. This cultural hegemony if you will.
MATTHEWS: Well, Jackie Robinson was a real American, wasn't he? I think. I'm just trying to go through the list. Just kidding. Willie Mays, I think he was an American. I think a lot of great Americans, not just sports figures are definitely really Americans. Anyway thank you. I can't imagine the country without them. Any way thank you, Kevin Dotson, and thank you Christopher Parker, good luck with your doc.