The Saul Alinsky Connection: Obama’s Unprincipled Class Warfare Threatens the Nation

The following article by Linn and Ari Armstrong originally was published September 16 by Grand Junction Free Press.

President Obama proves difficult to pin down. On the campaign trail, he opposed mandated health insurance; as president, he sought to impose it. He decried deficits even while ramping up federal spending. Obama answers the domestic jobs crisis by throwing ever more money at it; he answers the Iranian nuclear threat mostly with evasion.

What explains Obama’s slipperiness? After all, this is the man who succeeded a wildly unpopular Republican president on the vague and still-undefined platform of “hope and change.”

A hint to Obama’s character comes through an examination of the original Chicago “community organizer,” Saul Alinsky, author of Rules for Radicalsfrom 1971, the Bible for many on the left. As Peter Slevin writes for a 2007 Washington Post article, Alinsky once offered Hillary Clinton a job (she turned it down), and “a group of his disciples hired Barack Obama” to implement Alinsky’s vision.

We have nothing against radicals per se; indeed, many rightly see in us a radical bent. The term comes from the Latin word for roots; a radical is somebody who tries to get to the root of the matter. Our two favorite radical quotes come from Barry Goldwater — “extremism in defense of liberty is no vice” — and Martin Luther King — “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

But the term “radical” doesn’t reveal which roots a person seeks. On the good side, America’s Founders became the best sort of radicals in their struggle for liberty.

But radicals can also bear deadly poison. A radical racist dyes the whole world a race-tinged hue; radical socialists slaughtered scores of millions of people during the 20th Century.

Our problem with Alinsky rests in his particular sort of radicalism of class warfare and character assassination.

Beneath his platitudes about democracy and the “importance and worth in the individual,” Alinsky reveals his core goal: to “use power for a more equitable distribution of the means of life for all people.” As Obama reformulates it, the goal is to “spread the wealth around” through political force.

In Alinsky’s world, “Mankind has been and is divided into three parts: the Haves, the Have-Nots,” and those in between. “Rules for Radicals,” he explains, “is written for the Have-Nots on how to take [power] away” from the Haves.”

Observe the unmentioned premises behind Alinsky’s project. He presumes that wealth just somehow arrives around us, and some people unfairly grab it first. On such a premise, class warfare becomes inevitable, and forcibly redistributing “the wealth” becomes the radical’s goal.

But in a free society that protects people’s rights, individuals create wealth by reshaping aspects of the natural world using their intelligence and hard work, then trading on a voluntary market. In such a society, the “Haves” earn their wealth through productive effort, and they provide the employment (and at times the voluntary charity) that enables the “Have-Nots” to get ahead in life.

In a free society, some people produce vastly more wealth than others, and profit accordingly, while all remain free to live their lives by their own judgment and participate in a broadly prosperous economy. In a free economy all can prosper, though to different degrees. The mark of a free economy is peaceful and voluntary association, not the power struggles of class warfare.

Unfortunately, in the power-controlled world created by the presumptions that both Alinsky and Obama share, politicians forcibly transfer wealth from those who justly earn it to the politically-favored “Haves.” We call such programs things like “bailouts,” “stimulus spending,” “quantitative easing,” and “entitlements.”

Alinsky preaches the dogma of class warfare while pretending he opposes all dogma. The community organizer, Alinsky writes, “does not have a fixed truth — truth to him is relative and changing.” You may read Obama’s campaign slogan in Alinsky’s line: “Man’s hopes lie in the acceptance of the great law of change.”

Alinsky’s ever-changing world lacking timeless truths gives rise to his unprincipled pragmatism. He openly mocks those concerned about whether the ends justify the means. “The real arena is corrupt and bloody,” he writes, so “one does not always enjoy the luxury” of upholding “individual conscience.” Moral rhetoric on this view becomes a political weapon; “Moral rationalization is indispensable at all times of action,” he writes.

Guided by such views, the left continually employs character assassination against its opponents; note the groundless demonization of Tea Partiers as violence-prone racists. Alinsky explicitly encourages such tactics; he writes, “Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.” He adds, “One acts decisively only in the conviction that all the angels are on one side and all the devils on the other.” As for the truth, well, there’s no such thing, and all that matters is the “moral rationalization.”

Everyone who wants to restore American liberty should read Alinsky’s book, not only to better understand Barack Obama and his allies, but to learn the tactics of the left and how to fight them.

I’ll Rejoin the ACLU When It Stops Promoting Tax Hikes

I used to be a member of the American Civil Liberties Union. No, I do not agree with everything the organization does, but often it does some good work in terms of sticking up for the rights of free speech and for those abused by government agents.

But when the Colorado ACLU promoted a tax hike in 2005, that was too much. Not only was the issue far outside the ACLU’s mission, but forcibly transferring wealth violates people’s liberty. No, I don’t expect the leftists running the ACLU to defend economic liberty, but I do expect them not to attack it.

Since I dropped my membership, the ACLU has sent me numerous “final membership renewal statements.” (It doesn’t seem to quite get the idea of what “final” means.) I’m confident the ACLU has now spent more money mailing me these statements than I ever contributed to the organization.

I’ve written to the ACLU, explaining the conditions on which I will rejoin, but apparently my letters have been tossed in the trash (which is where I’ll toss the latest renewal plea). Just as soon as the ACLU pledges not to support future tax hikes, I’ll rejoin the group.

You guys at the ACLU obviously know how to reach me.

More on the African Roots of the Tar Baby Motif

Yesterday I wrote an article blasting the left for smearing Congressman Doug Lamborn for using the term “tar baby,” a reference to African folklore.

This morning Peter Boyles invited me on his show (630 KHOW) for an hour to discuss the matter; see the online recording.

On the air, Boyles mentioned the African “gum baby” as a precursor to the American “tar baby.” (The original sort of tar was made from pine pitch and so closely related to gum.) I thought I’d track this down.

Google pointed me to a Kansas publication The Pitch, where Gina Kaufman writes:

While coauthoring African Tales of Anansiwith her father, Mackey discovered “Anansi and the Gum Doll,” the African ancestor of Joel Chandler Harris’ “Brer Rabbit and the Tar Baby.” The dialect written into the Brer Rabbit stories is actually a remnant of the oral tradition of Ghana, and the wiley Brer Rabbit is the descendant of a trickster spider…

This tipped me off to the book, Framing Identities: Autobiography and the Politics of Pedagogy. That work (by Wendy Hesford) states the following (page 170):

The tar-baby image appropriates an African folktale. The basic elements of the tale are that a trickster approaches a figure made of tar, rubber, orj some other sticky substance. The trickster speaks to the figure and holds it until it can be apprehended. Versions of this folktale have been reported from the Guinea coast area, the Congo, and Angola, and are repeated throughout Africa. See, for example, “Anansi and the Gum Doll” and “Brer Rabbit” (Standard Dictionary of Folklore, Mythology, and Legend).

I see that book remains for sale, though I’d have to buy a bound copy to read it. But, by now, the fact that the tar baby story comes from African folklore is incontestable.

MoveOn Smears Lamborn for Invoking African Tar Baby Folklore

It seems that the phrase “tar baby” has become something of a tar baby for me as well. Yesterday I waded into the debate over CongressmanLamborn’s use of “tar baby.” Peter Boyles read the piece and invited me on to his radio show to discuss the matter tomorrow at 7 am. So, in preparation, I’ll do some more poking around (despite my busy schedule).

It seems like I should be spending my time addressing our nation’s crushing debt, the high unemployment rate, Lamborn’s ties with the hard anti-abortion right, or any other real issue. Lamborn’s use of the phrase “tar baby” is an issue only because of the pathological codependency between the left’s outrage mongers and their lap dogs in the sensationalist media. In a sane world, in which the left focused on issues instead of character assassination, and the media devoted its resources to reporting real news, Lamborn’s comment never would have raised a blip.

Yet I poke another limb into the “tar baby” tar baby here. In doing so, I draw inspiration from an oriental tale in the ancient tar-baby or stickfast motif about Prince Five-weapons. The story is recounted by Joseph Campbell on pages 86-88 of his book, The Hero with a Thousand Faces. In this story the tar baby is an ogre. After failing to smite the ogre with arrows and other weapons, the prince “struck the ogre with his right hand. His hand stuck right to the ogre’s hair.” The prince proceeded to stick each of his limbs into the ogre, then finally the prince landed a blow with his head, getting that stuck as well.

The ogre is impressed by the prince’s bravery, thinking him “some man of noble birth… [f]or although he has been caught by an ogre like me, he appears neither to tremble nor to quake!” The ogre asks the youth why he is not afraid.

The prince answers:

Ogre, why should I be afraid? for in one life one death is absolutely certain. What’s more, I have in my belly a thunderbolt for weapon. If you eat me, you will not be able to digest that weapon. It will tear your insides into tatters and fragments and will kill you. In that case we’ll both perish. That’s why I’m not afraid!”

The ogre releases the prince. So let’s see if we might find a thunderbolt or two.

David Sirota’s position is that “tar baby” is “an obviously racist term.” (He uses this term writing this for the publication Salon, which has also featured an article with left-leaning commentator David Corn using the term “tar baby.”) But, according to Sirota, Lamborn’s use of the term is especially bad “because he explicitly used the term to describe a black person.”

Is Sirota’s claim true? No. It is obvious from context that Lamborn is referring to the “problem” of the debt-ceiling controversy. He is definitely not saying that Obama is a “tar baby” because he is black, and to pretend otherwise is to libel Lamborn. In his original comment, Lamborn used the word “stuck,” clearly invoking the historically correct (as opposed to the racist) usage of the term “tar baby.”

Let us pause to note how the left is helping to destroy the very democratic openness it claims to champion by employing the tactics of smear, slander, and character assassination. If we want our elected officials and candidates to speak openly with their constituents, then we can’t try to crucify them for innocently using an innocuous phrase.

As I’ve reviewed, the cultural origins of the tar-baby motif are very old, very widespread, and very diverse. Back in the ’40s Aurelio Espinosa found the oldest examples to come from India.

Obviously “tar baby” as an English phrase originated in the English-speaking world, and it was the term first used by African slaves to describe a legend from old African folklore. The “tar baby” story originated in Africa, and it was brought to the United States by slaves. So the notion that invoking African folklore inherently reveals racism against African Americans is frankly absurd. One might as well claim that wearing African-style scarves is racist.

Here’s how Peter Addo describes the origins:

Most of the Stories referred to as Brer Rabbit are actually Anasne Stories brought to the Americas by the African American Slaves introduced here Centuries ago. In an attempt to keep their Culture alive in this Strange and forbidden place they found themselves, they tried against all odds to keep alive the few songs and stories about the homeland they would never see again. It was something they could remember and so they held on to the Ananse the Wise Trickster figure they were all familiar with from the Land of their birth.

Here the act of Story Telling was a very important part of their Lives since it was by this Oral Tradition that History was kept alive and transmitted from one generation to another. Secondly all the Ananse Stories ended with Specific Messages, Morals or Advice, Proverbs or a Very Wise Saying. What they had then was an Instrument of transmitting Knowledge, Morals, Ethical Values, and an Instrument of sharing but also Preserving their Common Values in a new Land. Thus the very close similarity between the Ananse Stories of Africa and the Brer Rabbit Stories.

A review in USA Today — another paper now lashing Lamborn — refers to “the tar baby in Afro-American folklore.”

In his autobiography, President Theodore Roosevelt writes that his uncle Robert Roosevelt wrote of the “Br’er Rabbit” story before Joel Chandler Harris popularized it with Uncle Remus. I haven’t been able verify Roosevelt’s claim about the publication of the work, but his comments make clear that the stories predated Harris. (I used Wikipedia to help run down some of these links.)

Even those critical of Harris’s work recognize the African origins of the stories. Consider this 2009 commentary by the Associated Press:

[B]lack authors like Toni Morrison and Alice Walker — who was born in Harris’ hometown of Eatonton —- have denounced the author and say he stole the stories unjustly. … For Curtis Richardson, who is one of several regular storytellers who perform at the Wren’s Nest, being black in a museum that celebrates such a controversial body of work can be tough. Richardson said he refused to tell Harris’ version of Tar Baby stories until he researched their roots back to West Africa and the Caribbean. Now he tells the older versions as a way to honor the stories’ heritage and skip the modern associations with racism.

Turning to “The Wonderful Tar Baby Story,” Harris himself supposes that the story originated in Africa. (We may note that in his introduction Harris uses race-loaded language properly off-limits today.)

The premise of the story (in Harris’s account) is that a fox is trying to catch a rabbit. The fox mixes tar and turpentine and fashions it into a “tar baby,” a sort of mannequin. Note that the important characteristic of tar is that it is sticky, not that it is black. The rabbit ambles by and, thinking the tar baby is a real person, wishes it a good morning. Of course the tar baby fails to reply. The rabbit mistakes this as rudeness and grows irritated. Incensed, the rabbit strikes the tar baby, getting entangled with it. Interestingly, the story ends on an ambiguous note; Uncle Remus says the story has no ending. Maybe somebody helped free the rabbit, but maybe not.

So what is the theme of the story? The rabbit makes two basic mistakes. First, he misconceives the nature of what he’s dealing with. As a consequence, he develops totally unrealistic expectations regarding that thing. In misplaced anger, he lashes out, becoming ensnared by the thing.

Interestingly, the story is a perfect metaphor for those calling the tar baby inherently racist. They fundamentally misunderstand what a tar baby is. They lash out in anger over an innocent use of the term. And now they are ensnared in a controversy that makes them look like illiterate partisan hacks.

If we take the story as metaphor for the racist American South, then the most sensibly reading is that the rabbit represents the African American, while the tar baby represents a trick by white oppressors. (Wikipediasuggests this reading.)

How, then, did the term “tar baby” get caught up with racist overtones? Quite simply that comes from ignorant and illiterate racists fundamentally misunderstanding what a “tar baby” is. But surely we ought not let ignorant racists destroy a meaningful story from African folklore!

The basic mistake is to think that “tar baby” refers, not to a sticky and ensnaring problem, but to a black person. Consider, for example, the existence (pathetically, still on the market today) of “tar baby soap.”Bernie Mac, the brilliant comedic actor who sadly died in 2008, wrote of his childhood, “Kids called me ‘tar baby,’ ‘spooky juice.’ I was scary.”

There is nothing inherently racist about the African concept of the tar baby. The racist overtones arise only from sheer ignorance. Again, I decline to let ignorant bafoons ruin a perfectly good cultural symbol.

Of course, none of the background about the tar baby matters to the hysterical left. Participants with the hard-left MoveOn protested at Lamborn’s office. One fellow said Lamborn should be tossed in the briar patch — because apparently it’s racist for Lamborn to invoke African folklore but perfectly acceptable for his critics to do the same.

I wonder why MoveOn declined to protest the Denver Post or Westwordwhen left-leaning writers for those papers used the term “tar baby.” (Seeyesterday’s post for details.)

Unthinking critics have created an unfortunate feedback loop. John Kerry, Mitt Romney, and John McCain have all used the term “tar baby.” The two Republicans apologized for it. But the journalists covering these stories apparently have never bothered to wonder whether they actually had anything to apologize for. But now it’s a tradition: if you’re a Republican and you innocently say “tar baby,” that makes you a racist and you must immediately apologize. And never mind the facts.

Well, I say the true racism is to smother references to important African folklore in an attempt smear political opponents.

***

Anonymous comments on August 4, 2011 at 7:42 AM:

Ari,

I appreciate your precise approach to this issue. You have definitely honed your sword. Great research. Joseph Campbell has been played and replayed on PBS. The left must approve of his tar-baby definition.

You have also brilliantly illustrated how the left has us all sidetracked on non-issues.
The left, including Sirota and his ilk, are hyper sensitive. They see racism everywhere, even when it does not exist.I do believe there is a pill for this condition of hyper racial sensitivity and other delusions.

For the good of humanity, maybe Sirota should find a new career rather than pedaling snake-oil? The problem with this type of distracting snake-oil is that it is poisonous.

Jeff

Anonymous comments September 19, 2011 at 1:37 PM”
funny… for quite a while I’ve been calling out Sirota on a variety of topics for his “snake oil” sales tricks and rhetorical spins. Thought I was the first and only, but evidently not.

Lamborn Strikes the “Tar Baby” Tar Baby

What’s amazing about the phrase “tar baby” (as others have noted) is that in today’s world of political character assassination a politician strikes a tar baby merely by uttering the phrase.

Just ask Colorado Congressman Doug Lamborn. As of the moment of this writing, the top Google hit for “tar baby” is a USA Today article, “GOP lawmaker apologizes to Obama for ‘tar baby’ remark.”

Here’s what he actually said regarding the debt-ceiling debate, reports the Denver Post‘s Allison Sherry: “Now, I don’t even want to be associated with him. It’s like touching a, a tar baby and you get it . . . you know you’re stuck, and you’re part of the problem now, and you can’t get away.”

Lamborn quickly apologized for using the phrase. But that hasn’t stopped the left from blistering Lamborn.

Because she is an expert in linguistic analysis, Sherry helpfully adds, “Though the term is often defined as a sticky situation, it carries some historic usages that are racially insensitive.”

According to David Sirota, “Lamborn’s choice of words shows how the fringe right is mainstreaming racist language.”

As Westword‘s Michael Roberts reviews, even the free-market Wayne Laugesen says Lamborn shouldn’t have used the phrase.

But what does “tar baby” actually mean, and is it racist? Or (as usual) is the hard left manufacturing outrage to smear a Republican officeholder for partisan purposes?

The Wikipedia entry is actually useful here. It notes a tar baby entraps “Br’er Rabbit” in the classic story. But that’s hardly the origin of the symbol.

Wikipedia also references Joseph Campbell, and thankfully I happen to have a copy of his book The Hero with a Thousand Faces on my desk. On page 87, Campbell describes “the celebrated and well-nigh universal tar-baby story of popular folklore.” Cambell in turn references a 1930 article by Aurelio Espinosa and some other works.

Here’s how Espinosa opens his 1943 follow-up article:

In my Notes on the Origin and History of the Tar-Baby Story… I examined and studied one hundred and fifty-two versions of the tale. In subsequent articles I have continued to affirm my belief in the India origins of the tale in the sense that India is as far back as we can trace it, and that it is not of African origin as some have believed. I have now in my possession two hundred and sixty-seven versions…

No doubt the term “tar baby” has been used by some with racist intent. But obviously Lamborn does not fall in that category. And lots of ordinary words and phrases have been used to convey bigotry, but that doesn’t mean we must eradicate all that language. Rather, we should seek to eradicate the underlying bigotry, where it exists.

A “tar baby” in its oldest and widest use means simply something that entraps you if you start to fight or mess with it. It is now the perfect self-referential phrase.

But is Sirota right that Lamborn’s use of the term “shows how the fringe right is mainstreaming racist language?”

Well, let’s look at some other examples.

In 2004 John Kerry, that veritable champion of the “fringe right,” used the phrase (and took flak for it).

On August 31, 2003, the Denver Post‘s hard-left columnist Jim Spencer wrote, “Last week, those same leaders started looking to the United Nations to pull them free of a Middle Eastern tar baby.”

On July 3, 2006, the Denver Post‘s center-left columnist Bob Ewegen wrote, “Mighty clever fox, that Brer Owens seems to be. First, he appears to sucker Brer Romanoff into tangling with that political tar baby, ‘immigration.'”

On March 9, 2002, the often-left-leaning Denver Post editorial board wrote, “When the House Civil Justice and Judiciary Committee voted 7-2 on Thursday against creating a special panel with subpoena powers to investigate Columbine, it was only the latest public agency to decline hugging this tar-baby issue.” On April 14, 2002, it wrote, “Meantime, a parade of public officials has pirouetted out of the path of a tar baby they’d rather not dance with…”

Over at the left-leaning Westword, the term has been used by Alan Prendergast (and again) and editor Patricia Calhoun.

(Update: Here’s another little irony: while Sirota wrote his screed forSolon, another left-leaning writer, David Corn, used the term “tar baby” in an article for Salon several years ago.)

So I’ll go ahead and hold my breath waiting for Sirota to denounce Joseph Cambell, Jim Spencer, Bob Ewegen, the Denver Post, Alan Prendergast, and Patricia Calhoun for helping the “fringe right” mainstream “racist language.”

Or he could just stop smearing Republicans over make-believe issues.

***

Wayne Laugesen commented August 3, 2011 at 11:31 AM:
Great column, Ari. You nailed it, as usual. — Wayne Laugesen

Amie commented August 4, 2011 at 1:01 PM
The difference between the incidents given is that it was used towards a person of color not a situation. To refer to a man as a “tar baby” is different than referring to a particular situation as a tar baby. Big difference!!

Ari commented August 4, 2011 at 1:03 PM
Amie, You are simply misstating what Lamborn actually said. Please see my follow-up: http://bit.ly/oK016g

Anonymous commented August 4, 2011 at 1:34 PM
This is a copy of my letter to Wayne and it applies to you too Ari: Wayne, Your comment about the 3 little pigs is far reaching. Tar baby is and was a derogative term used against people of color. It’s a term used to belittle them and encourage hatred. You can continue attempting to defend Mr. Lamborn or you can fess up and admit that such a mean spirited term easily rolling of his tongue is unacceptable.
The fact that others have used it doesn’t make it the right thing to do. You know that.
In today’s climate of increasing hate and acceptance of bigotry any and all innuendos, whether intentional or not need to be stopped immediately.
Pat Hill

Ari commented August 4, 2011 at 1:39 PM
Pat, Your claims are complete nonsense, and they reveal a basic ignorance about the origins of the tar baby. The tar baby is an African folktale! Please read my two follow-up articles:

http://blog.ariarmstrong.com/2011/08/moveon-smears-lamborn-for-invoking.html

http://blog.ariarmstrong.com/2011/08/more-on-african-roots-of-tar-baby-motif.html

Amie commented August 4, 2011 at 2:13 PM
Ari – you are going to defend him regardless of the IMPACT that was felt. Please google Intent vs. IMPACT? It is the IMPACT that matters.
“Even if some people say, ‘Well the Republicans should have done this or they should have done that,’ they will hold the President responsible. Now, I don’t even want to have to be associated with him. It’s like touching a tar baby and you get it, you’re stuck, and you’re a part of the problem now and you can’t get away. – He was using the term to describe President Obama not a certain situation. And why is MR. Lamborn deleting comments from his Facebook page?

Ari commented August 4, 2011 at 2:16 PM
Amie, Your argument is again complete nonsense. If it’s “the impact that matters,” then the logical course would be to repeal the First Amendment. What matters is motivation. In your reading of Lamborn’s comments, you are conveniently neglecting the terms “stuck” and “the problem.” I imagine that if Lamborn’s staffers are deleting Facebook comments, its because some posters are libeling the guy. -Ari

Anonymous commented August 4, 2011 at 2:26 PM
Ari,

You missed the entire point of my email – which being – the term is used negatively. The roots of the term are irrelevant. It’s the current conception of the word that is. Even the N word wasn’t quite the connotation that it is today. You are trying to find excuses for it and there just aren’t any. Pat (and please, I don’t call you words nonsense, irregardless of what I think of them, I’d appreciate the same courtesy).

Ari commented August 4, 2011 at 2:32 PM
Pat, In calling your arguments nonsense, I am making a factual assessment, and one I stand by. The roots of the term are extremely relevant, for they reveal that the racist misuse of the term is an aberration based on fundamental ignorance of the folklore. As I’ve indicated, the real problem is obliterating important African folklore simply because a few idiots abuse it. And, as my examples make clear, the term has been widely used in its proper meaning up to the present day. (Please note that I may decline to continue posting back-and-forth that does not significantly advance the debate.)

James Howald commented August 4, 2011 at 2:55 PM
When I taught composition to freshmen at USC, it was always a struggle to get them to accept that the associations their audience would bring to their choice of words was every bit as important as what they meant when they wrote them. A skilled communicator considers connotation as well as denotation, even though connotation may be more slippery. Lamborn’s statement was a mistake because it got people talking not about his point but about his personality and his choice of words. He failed to get the spotlight on Obama, and directed it at himself instead. If you are in public life, you need to able to manage the discussion. Lamborn made a rookie error, although he’s no rookie at this point.

Anonymous commented August 4, 2011 at 3:02 PM
The term has also been used even more widely as a racial slur. The existence of one (literature) does not negate the existence of the other (racial slur). They both “are,” and both are valid.

If Lamborn was giving a presentation on literature and used the term, no foul. But the fact is, Lamborn used it from his podium as a US legislator to describe our Black President.

Lamborn is a duly-elected representative of his district and constituents, which include not only readers of Br’er Rabbit but also African-Americans. He failed to fulfill his obligations to all. He offended his consituents. Period.

Ignorance is not an excuse, nor do I personally buy that he didn’t know exactly what he was saying. Racial code words abound since we have elected a Black President. But I digress.

Bottom line: Lamborn should have known better. Is ignorance of a racial slur an excuse to use it? Not at all. Just like ignorance of the law is not an excuse to break that law.

Using Lamborn’s logic, the same would be true of this scenario:

Lamborn runs a red light, seriously harming a pedestrian. It was unfortunate, yes; intentional, no. He should not be held accountable as he wasn’t aware that running a red light was against the law. And further, “If there’s reasonable people, they’ll know this was totally unintentional on my part.”

Although mighty creative, Lamborn’s argument is laughable. And I’m sure Lamborn even in his lawyer days, having presented that argument, would have been laughed right out of court. And the Judge, being a reasonable guy, wouldn’t give two bits that Lamborn felt he was being “unreasonable.”

Ari commented August 4, 2011 at 3:06 PM
The claim that Lamborn called Obama a tar baby is simply a lie, and I will not post any additional such lies on this page.

Anonymous’s analogy to striking a pedestrian with a car is so strained, so ridiculous, that it demands no rebuttal.

Ari commented August 4, 2011 at 3:29 PM
Please allow me to soften the above comment. I’ve carefully explained why the claim that Lamborn called Obama a tar baby takes Lamborn’s actual statement out of context (again, observe the words “stuck” and “the problem”). Given I’ve done that, I’m really not interested in posting additional comments here that continue to take Lamborn’s comments out of context. I really do need to extricate myself from the “tar baby” tar baby at some point! But I apologize for coming across as overly heated, and I do appreciate people reading my posts, even (or perhaps I should say especially) when they disagree. Our mutual goal should be to reach valid conclusions through reasoned review and debate.

Anonymous commented August 4, 2011 at 4:03 PM
Analyzing Lamborn’s remarks from an English grammar point of view: I don’t even want to be associated with him. It’s like touching a, a tar baby. The word “him” in this sentence refers back to President Obama, and “a, a tar baby” refers back to “him” which refers back to President Obama. If any of the White, male presidential candidates in 2008 were president now, Do you think Lamborn would have chosen that phrase, “tar baby”? Neither do I. Just as we no longer refer to “Little Black Sambo”, “tar baby” is passé. And actually I’m beginning to think that only men and/or politicians use this term. I have NEVER heard it in conversation–except when I lived in the Detroit area where it was used by Whites as a racial slur along with the word “Sambo”.

Ari commented August 4, 2011 at 5:46 PM
Dear Anonymous, Why do you think it’s remotely fair to quote only part of Lamborn’s comments? In context, he obviously means the tar baby remark to refer to getting “stuck” in “the problem.” As is abundantly obvious to anyone who has given a live presentation, it is impossible to always state all of one’s points with absolute, crystal clarity. That is simply the nature of extemporaneous speaking.

Why are you so determined to take Lamborn’s quotation in the worst possible light? Those who assume, without evidence, that Lamborn is a racist simply want to see Republicans as racists, and no amount of evidence to the contrary will persuade them.

As to how you’ve heard the term used, that reveals nothing about the essential meaning of it. But, for what it’s worth, I’ve never personally heard the term used with racial overtones, and I’ve offered numerous examples of it being used in its legitimate meaning.

Thanks, -Ari

Anonymous commented August 5, 2011 at 7:08 AM
Schizophrenics often suffer from paranoid delusions. They see things that don’t exist.

We need a new term, racialphrenics. Basically a type of schizophrenia in which the victim sees racism when it does not exist. Characterized by a hyper sensitivity to their surrounding resulting in racial delusions.

Anonymous commented August 5, 2011 at 9:27 PM
Seems like some folk’s day just isn’t complete till they’ve been offended….just say’n.

Anonymous commented August 6, 2011 at 1:57 PM
Ari perhaps you have not studied black history. Hot tar was poured over slaves and then they were covered with feathers and displayed to the rest of the plantation to invoke terror. The term “tar baby” invokes memories of this practice and should not be used toward any black person let alone the President of the United States.

RUKM commented August 6, 2011 at 5:50 PM
Ari,
Thanks for your in-depth study of the origin and use of “tar baby”. I appreciate it. Of course, Lamborn was referring to the debt-ceiling “crisis” and not to a person. But, don’t expect any logic from the fringe left!

Ari commented August 8, 2011 at 7:56 AM
Tar and feathers is most associated with upstart colonialists targeting disfavored public officials. Clearly it is not an inherently racist term. And, obviously, tarring and feathering has nothing to do with a tar baby. Or should we simply ban tar and its term?

A Koch Protest and a Smile

The leftists were out in full silliness mode protesting the Koch brothers near Vail on June 26. Both Progress Now Colorado and Colorado Common Cause promoted the protest, as did Colorado Pols and ColoradoIndependent.

I love the Denver Post’s headline: “Koch brothers hold secret GOP business retreat in Vail.” It was so secret it drew coverage in the largest regional newspaper. An alternative term for “secret” is simply, “private.” Apparently, whenever free-market advocates meet in private, that’s ominously “secret,” but whenever radical leftists meet in private, that’s just a fun little gathering.

I do like a comment from a Koch spokesperson quoted by the Post: “The purpose of this conference is to develop support for the kind of free-market policies and initiatives that can get our country back on the path to economic prosperity and sustained job creation.”

I hope the Kochs are immensely successful in this mission, as it is precisely what the country needs. (As I have noted, because I already held free-market beliefs, I actually worked indirectly for Koch money one summer. I spent most of my time fighting unjust sentencing that disproportionately harmed African Americans.)

So what could one find at the rally? In Kelly Maher’s excellent video, one can hear a Progress Now representative claiming that Paul Ryan’s entitlement reforms “will basically throw Grandma out on the street.” That is a bald-faced lie, which is perhaps why another protester cleverly blocked Maher’s camera so that she could not continue to record the speaker making a complete fool out of herself.

Or consider the photo of a sign uploaded by Alan Franklin, which says, “Create American Jobs for Americans! Pay Your Taxes!” Because, you see, when the Kochs build a successful market business, that doesn’t “create jobs.” Only when they pull money out of their productive enterprises and hand it over to politicians and bureaucrats do they “create jobs.”

And leftists wonder why most Americans think they are absolutely bat-guano crazy.

Another sign says the Kochs are “Wanted for climate crimes,” apparently because the Kochs produce, among other things, energy to run our cars. Because, as we all know, the leftists all walked to Vail rather than drive a vehicle. (My guess is that all of the protesters use some Koch product or other.)

Finally, consider a couple of posts from Progress Now’s Twitter feed. AP reporter Kristen Wyatt Tweeted, “Koch bros. fire back at protesters headed to Vail, point out that ProgressNow doesnt disclose all its donors either.” Progress Now retorted, “It’s all about consent. … Our donors knowingly give to a political cause. Koch Bros $$$ comes from consumers & shareholders who didn’t consent.” Because, you know, the Kochs literally hold a gun to their customers’ heads and force them to buy their products. And, if Progress Now is going to play the “consent” card, what about the customers who made some of their own donors fabulously wealthy? Did they consent to indirectly funding Progress Now? Some rich leftists give to leftist causes, some rich conservatives give to conservative causes, and some rich free-market advocates give to free market causes. The only thing surprising about any of this is Progress Now’s self-righteous hypocrisy on the matter.

My only complaint about the Koch brothers is that they do not currently direct any of their money to me.

Why Do Marxists Embrace the Islamic Center?

When Bob Glass sent me his photos from the 9/11 rallies in New York, I was surprised to see such a strong Marxist presence at the rally supporting the Islamic center near Ground Zero.

Was it not Marx who called religion the opiate of the masses?

The Marxists also rallied in Washington, D.C. A couple of signs there indicate the nature of the Marxist alliance with Islam. One young man showing off his T-shirt illustrating Marx’s face holds a sign stating, “End the wars now!” Another sign from Socialist Worker says, “Stop the racist hate: Muslims are welcome here.” So the Marxist left is upset by the wars in the Middle East, and they tar the Tea Parties as racist.

Daniel Hannan points out that the Marxists refuse to believe Tea Partiers act independently. Instead, the Marxists (and indeed the entire left) hold, the Tea Parties must be the result of grand conspiracies by the moneyed few. I think this goes far in explaining why the Marxists embrace the Islamic center: many Tea Partiers oppose it, so it must be a good thing.

Fortunately, because Glass sent me numerous leftist publications he picked up at the 9/11 rally, we don’t have to speculate about the socialists’ motives. They explain them clearly.

The September 2010 Internationalist alleges, “The hysteria [against the Islamic center] is part of the violent racist campaign targeting Muslims and immigrants for attack ever since 9/11.”

The publication smears opponents of the Islamic center as violent racists who oppose immigration and “would no doubt like to get rid of the 13th Amendment… and bring back slavery.” (I have criticized the Islamic center while affirming the legal right to build it. I advocate the free movement of non-violent and non-contagious people. The baseless smear about slavery deserves no further retort.)

Unsurprisingly, The Internationalist calls not merely for free migration but for “full citizenship rights for all immigrants” — which entail voting rights — a proposal I would strongly oppose. Citizenship should involve something more substantial than simply walking across a border.

The publication condemns “the war that is slaughtering Muslims in Afghanistan and Iraq.” Reasonable people can dispute the wisdom of the war in Iraq, but Afghanistan, home of the Taliban?

Unsurprisingly, the socialists have no qualms about Feisal Rauf’s comments blaming the U.S. for the 9/11 terrorist attacks; his “statements are undeniable facts,” The Internationalist claims.

Here is the heart of the Marxist argument for supporting the Islamic Center:

Politically, we are no friends of Imam Rauf, who is a supporter of U.S. imperialist and Zionist war and occupation which communists seek to defeat. As Marxists and atheists, we are ideologically opposed to all religions… which throughout history have served to justify the rule of exploiting ruling classes and blind the exploited population to a real solution to their misery. … To finally overcome religion, it is necessary to abolish the oppressive conditions that produce it, through internationalist socialist revolution, and lay the basis for the masses to achieve a scientific [sic] understanding of the world. From Afghanistan and Iraq to Egypt and Algeria, we oppose Islamism as a political movement while fighting to mobilize the working class and the oppressed to defeat the imperialist occupiers and “secular” dictatorships. …

Thus the fight against the Muslim-bashing hysteria over the New York mosque must be part of a struggle to build a revolutionary workers party that champions the cause of all the oppressed. Communists vigorously defend bourgeois democratic rights including freedom of assembly and the separation of church and state… While expropriating the holdings and breaking the secular power of the church and its control of education… the Russian Bolsheviks under Lenin and Trotsky upheld the freedom of religious belief and worship. As Leninists and Trotskyists, the Internationalist Group defends the building of an Islamic cultural center and place of worship (mosque) near the World Trade Center and anywhere else… [W]e defend democratic rights through mobilizing worker, oppressed minorities and immigrants against the entire ruling class and its racist capitalist system.

Okay, then. Nevermind that it is the Tea Party movement that is the true “working class” movement in America.

However, just because Lenin and Trosky would have supported the Islamic center, doesn’t mean forcibly blocking it is a good idea. While the Marxists might think that the enemy of their enemy is their friend (and how long would those idiot Marxists survive in Iran, Saudi Arabia, or Afghanistan), in reality that is very often not the case.

***

Comments

Anonymous October 29, 2010 at 5:25 PM
Ari, when you point out, “Marxists refuse to believe Tea Partiers act independently. Instead, the Marxists (and indeed the entire left) hold, the Tea Parties must be the result of grand conspiracies by the moneyed few”, you need to remember that one reason that they do this is because that is what they know is the truth about their own movement: from 1848 on, they have taken orders from an elite, and have been supported by various (interlinked) conspiracies of the moneyed few – right up to 2010 and George Soros and his ilk. They cannot imagine that people can have an independent political though in their heads.

Samuel November 6, 2010 at 10:49 AM
Ari,

I have a quick question for you:

Currently, United States citizenship involves absolutely nothing substantial, at all. Could you please explain why you would require something substantial from those who did not have the privileged luck of being born here?

Certainly, neither you nor I have done anything that could be labeled as ‘earning’ citizenship; it was automatically given at birth, and while that’s absolutely superb for you and I, it does not make a great starting point for you or I to demand of others what was never expected of us. Please reconcile if you can.

Ari November 6, 2010 at 1:59 PM
Currently, and quite obviously, becoming a citizen of the United States, for those not born here, is a long and arduous process — and quite properly so.

While I am all for the free movement of people, that is quite a distinct issue from citizenship — which entails the right to vote. Should I be able to vote in Mexican or Canadian elections just by walking across the border? That’s ridiculous. Should Democrats be able to bus Mexicans or Canadians into the U.S., give them a day-long citizenship pass, and let them vote?

There’s nothing to reconcile here; the notion that citizenship should automatically and instantly be granted to anyone who walks in from another country is absurd on its face.

Glass: Communist Groups Rally for Islamic Center

Special by Bob Glass from the 9/11 NYC rallies

It is critical to note that the mainstream media have failed miserably in their responsibility to report the facts about the events surrounding the 9/11 rallies for and against the proposed Islamic center in New York.

As usual, the mainstream media have dutifully toed the party line and regurgitated the lies and propaganda of the American Left. Foremost amongst the facts ignored by the major media is that many of the groups supporting the mosque at Ground Zero are hard-line Communist organizations and hard-line Islamist anti-Israel organizations. (See the list of endorsing organizations.) For example, Workers World is a Stalinist group. In the time honored tradition of Saul Alinsky of lying about who you are and what your true agenda is, the International Action Center is simply an umbrella front group for all of the Communist groups to hide under.

In the spirit of Rahm Emanuel of never letting a crisis go to waste, the American Left is cashing in on the outrage and pain of the American people and is using the controversy about the Islamic center to attack and demonize the Tea Party. Those leftists have branded all those opposed to the building of the Islamic center near Ground Zero as bigots, racists and Islamophobes (see photos). This was just another opportunity for them and their Democratic political Apparatchiks to attack the Tea Party and the groundswell of the American people that is rising to reject statism.

It is a typical Saul Alinsky tactic to personally attack your opposition (in this case playing the race card) when your own arguments are philosophically and morally bankrupt. The overwhelming majority of those rallying for the Islamic center were old time Communists, unionists, radical feminists, and an array of other left-wing activists and anti-Israel fanatics (together with a few youthful useful idiots).

The people who rallied against the Islamic center, on the other hand, were salt-of-the-earth people who for the most part had never taken to the streets in their lives to express their political beliefs. These are people who actually have jobs, families, and responsibilities; people who have been motivated by the Tea Party and are outraged at the prospect of building a “victory mosque” on the sacred ground of where the World Trade Center once stood.

Read More:

Socialists Rallied for Islamic Center, 9/11 Photos Show photos by Bob Glass

9/11 Rallies Clash over NYC Islamic Center by Bob Glass

Sharia Critics Rally Against NYC Islamic Center photos by Bob Glass

Why Do the Media Ignore the Crazies On the Left? by Ari Armstrong

Why Do the Media Ignore the Crazies On the Left?

Reporters who castigate the small minority of nuts among the Tea Partiers, while utterly ignoring the more numerous and dangerous crazies on the left, lie by omission.

Leftists who smear the Tea Parties based on a few isolated (and in many cases fictitious) misdeeds, but who refuse to criticize those among their own ranks who sanction violence, dictatorship, and mass murder, stink of hypocrisy.

I’ve been to numerous Tea Parties and interviewed dozens of Tea Partiers. The vast majority of Tea Partiers care about the direction our nation is headed, out-of-control federal spending, and saddling their children and grandchildren with trillions of dollars of debt.

True, a minority obsess about immigration, advocate theocracy (starting with total abortion bans), call Obama a Communist or Nazi, or parrot some wild conspiracy. A tiny few have even voiced racist views, though generally racists have been quickly condemned by and ousted from the Tea Parties.

But obviously any large rally attracts a contingent nuts, and the left is far worse. Some leftist groups also oppose immigration, and indeed want to limit human births across the board on environmentalist grounds, but apparently that motive is too PC to generate much media attention. The socialists of the left are at least as numerous and virulent as the theocrats of the right. The entire leftist philosophy is essentially one grand conspiracy theory, spawning continuous minor conspiracy theories. Standard leftist rhetoric decried Bush as a Nazi. Those looking for examples of left-wing racism can start with the hate mail sent to Michelle Malkin.

Many reporters are quick to jump on those who rally against the proposed Islamc center near Ground Zero. While not technically Tea Party events, such rallies show a strong Tea Party flavor, as photos of the 9/11 rally reveal. There seems to be significant overlap between the Tea Parties and the rallies against the Islamic center, though other Tea Partiers should not be assumed to have taken a position on the matter. I should note here that I disagree with many of the conservative arguments against the center and find no reason to forcibly block it, though I condemn its construction because of its builders’ troubling ideology.

But if any major media outlet reported the absolute insanity of the leftist rallies in favor of the center, I did not catch the report.

Thankfully, my friend Bob Glass observed the 9/11 leftist rally — and he took photographs.

Avowedly socialist organizations endorsed the rally. People carried signs from “SocialistWorker.org.” Various leftist ralliers promoted the mass murderer and Marxist totalitarian Che Guevara. One fellow promoted the murderous Communist regime of China (making clear with his Guevara reference which aspects of Chinese rule he favors). Some distributed copies of “Challenge: The Revolutionary Communist Newspaper of Progressive Labor Party.”

So, for the sake of truth and simple decency, stop the media smear campaigns against the Tea Parties.

Socialists Rallied for Islamic Center, 9/11 Photos Show

Bob Glass reviewed the 9/11 NYC rallies for and against the Islamic center near Ground Zero. He also took some outstanding photographs, which I’ve now uploaded to Photo Bucket with his permission.

Following is a selection of those photos from the rally promoting the Islamic center. Glass has promised me additional commentary on the topic, and I plan to write something up as well based on his photographs and literature from the rally he sent me. I should note the obvious point here that the strong socialist endorsement of of the Islamic center does not typify support for it, which is ideologically diverse.

If you zoom in on the photo, you can read on one sign, “socialistworker.org.”

rally01

One sign in this photo says, “Defeat Obama’s War on Afghanistan and Iraq! Hands off Pakistan! Internationalist Group, League for the Fourth International.” Another sign says touts “class struggle.”

rally02

Many of the ralliers in favor of the Islamic center were obviously pro-Palestine and anti-Israel:

rally03

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This button says, “U.S. Boat to Gaza: The Audacity of Hope.”

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Works sold at the pro-mosque rally included “Coming American Revolution,” a “Defense of Marxism,” “Che Guevera and the Fight for Socialism Today,” “The Militant,” and “Socialism: Utopian and Scientific.”

rally07

One pro-mosque rallier openly promoted Guevera as well as the murderous Communist Chinese regime:

rally08

Amidst signs from the “anti-capitalist” International Action Center, a sign reads, “We Stand with Our Muslim Sisters and Brothers.”

rally09

Another sign from “socialistworker.org” declares, “Muslims Are Our Brothers & Sisters.”

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Comment

Mike C. September 19, 2010 at 8:13 PM
The yellow and black IAC signs look suspiciously like those of International ANSWER – the pro-Saddam, pro-Castro, pro-Kim Jong Il, pro-Chavez, etc. group that organized some of the anti-war rallies.