Reparations, the Tea Party and America's Founding Fathers

By A. Akbar Muhammad | Last updated: Nov 23, 2010 - 9:50:36 AM

What's your opinion on this article?


( - “Trouble Brewing” was the title of an October 30 article by Edward Luce published in the Financial Times newspaper. Essentially the article was about how some Americans fear that the United States is in mortal danger, and places the blame squarely on the doorstep of President Barack Obama, the nation's first Black president.

In the first paragraph of the article, Mr. Luce invoked the name of Reverend Jeremiah Wright—a scholar of Black liberation theology—highlighting the media repetition of his infamous three ‘got-dam Americas'—which he used in a sermon illustrating America's moral and political contradictions. The second

paragraph closes with “already there are rumors that he, Barack Obama, had not been born in America and was a closet Muslim.” Both are hallmarks of Tea Party talking points in their campaign against all things Obama.

In this article I would like to express my personal feelings about the views of the Tea Party group—not all Tea Party members—but only the 90 percent who use the rhetoric “take back America.” The question is, take back America from whom? Is it a Black man in the White House you want to take America back from? Many of them are thinking ‘how can we let a Black man run America?' Our trouble and challenge is that he's in power. The Tea Party and their followers show every flavor of being racist.

Many of us who are old warriors of the struggle for justice in America know every aspect of racism. We are sensitive to it. Some of us can sense it in a smile; others of us go so far as saying we can smell racism. The Tea Party has few men of color among them. I say “men” because I have not seen any of our sisters championing the Tea Party cause or waiving a flag or banner in support of the group. The few Black men who are working with them are as flies to buttermilk.

To hear and read the Tea Party accusing President Obama of bankrupting America and see them drawing a Hitler mustache on the President of the United States, exceeds the limits of normal political differences. Remember Hitler was known for being against a whole community of people and then seeking to annihilate them.

Observing the Tea Party, the signs of old time racism are there. When the Tea Party proclaims to be a continuation of the late Jerry Farewell's Christian moral majority, the veterans of our struggle for justice know exactly what they mean.

The Tea Party also claims that under Pres. Obama, the Constitution is in danger. In danger from whom? Is it in danger because there is a Black man in the White House? The Tea Party asserts the Constitution is divine. However it is hard for a Black American to say the same. We can accept that the founders who framed it were inspired to write a document, well respected by the people of the world. But, we as Black Americans and those who are descendents from the horrors of slavery, clearly recognize that the focus and the main framers of this document were slaveholders. How do you reconcile denying us freedom, brutally mistreating the Black slaves and then advance this document as divinely inspired by God?

Another Tea Party fallacy is their self-description of being a movement without a specific leader, which is like being a racehorse without a jockey. Who is responsible for the direction? Who is responsible for the programs of the Tea Party? It appears the “leaderless” Tea Party needs a lesson of guidance from a Constitutional scholar who can remind them that the United States Constitution is not a timeless blueprint. That's illustrated when we become more enlightened and then make amendments. Slavery is a prime example of such modifications.

Mr. Luce plainly wrote in his article that the Constitution was a document reflecting the political realities of the late 18th-century, striking a hard front compromise between the slave states of the South and the non-slave states of the North—that is a factual reality. Among some of the Tea Party supporters, there is a call for a Christian Constitutional Commonwealth. One group, the 9/12'ers—a post 9/11 group initiated by Fox news commentator and a Barack hater, Glenn Beck—has stated that all Americans after 9/12 were Americans. I ask the question before God, what were we before that?

Beck as a voice of right wing conservative thought, referred to the Obama administration health care bill as reparations. Who and what is he talking about? Again, the Black veterans of our struggle who can sense and see a racist understand what the cry for reparations signals to White America. Reparation is a word our President would rather stay away from right now. But does Mr. Beck mean that health care is a part of repairing the damage done to Blacks, Hispanics and Native Americans by the Obama Administration? We know the Tea Party does not agree with reparations because the so-called inspired Founding Fathers would never agree to reparations as slave-holders themselves. In late August Mr. Beck said, on one of his Fox News Sunday shows, that people aren't recognizing Barack Obama's version of Christianity and then tied Pres. Obama to liberation theology implying the president is not the right “kind” of Christian. Leading up to his rally on the mall in Washington D.C., Beck characterized the President as an adherent to a liberation theology which he says represents a perversion of the gospel of Jesus Christ as most Christians know it.

What we have is indeed trouble brewing. The erroneous views that the Healthcare Bill poised to help 47 million uninsured Americans is a reparation program and the Constitution was a divine document from God, are being used by the Tea Party and its followers to build a case to make it difficult for President Obama to win a second term in 2012. They hope to reduce the first Black American president to being a failure of the American people.

(For questions and comments, please contact Akbar Muhammad at [email protected].)