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From free trade to the Kosovo crisis.
Is Anti-Tax Rage Fueled by Racism?
Editor’s Note: It is a mystery why so many modest-income white Americans show up at rallies opposing regulations on big business and wanting to protect the Bush tax cuts for the super-rich. It’s as if these Americans have little sense of their own interests and prefer to submit to a modern-day serfdom under unchecked corporate control.
One obvious explanation is the power of right-wing propaganda that has pounded the anti-government, anti-tax drum for the last three decades. But there may be an even more sinister component – race – as media activist Jay Diamond argues in this guest essay:
The momentum, the mass and the driving force behind the anti-tax, anti-government cult of the last 30 years has been RACISM.
In the alleged minds of rightist, low-brow talk radio, which represents the thrust and the avant garde of movement right-wing-ism, any money "confiscated" from hard-working (white) people is simply picked from their pockets and immediately deposited into the pockets of the "undeserving" poor (blacks).
That is how taxation, and therefore government, is understood by tens of millions of Americans, owing to the relentless invocation of the villainous theme, "redistribution of income."
Rightwing cadres understand "redistribution" as a racial tax, and a racial transfer, from whites to blacks.
In reality, however, what happens in taxation is the transfer of private assets to a public purpose, and middle-class whites are a public purpose, but many of them owing to innate racism and/or the racism stoked by the low-brow talk radio cadres, are ignorant of the real transfer (to them!), explicit in taxation.
I truly believe that if America were composed wholly of white people, taxation would not be the consuming and destructive issue that it is, absent the convenience of blacks to scapegoat.
The Right and the money interest in the United States understand perfectly well how they can manipulate the white voter to hurt him/herself by misrepresenting what happens when we are taxed.
Hence, your "Welfare Queen" as a compelling avatar of taxes as a transfer of always hard-earned white money to malingerers ("blacks", in the taxonomy of talk radio).
In addition, the schizoid deployment of religion is noteworthy in any discussion of taxation and the public versus the private interest, or for that matter, the mere existence of such a thing as a public purpose.
Please note the blatant irony that so many Americans who purport to love Jesus -- one of history's great advocates for the poor and a famous scourge of the wealthy -- are among the most ardent and stubborn devotees of Ayn Rand, the dedicated atheist who averred that belief in Jesus or any God was inimical to the unregulated capitalism that she avowed.
Ayn Rand, the beacon of unencumbered capitalism/feudalism and the hero of America's rightwing cadres, did not believe in God, and what is more, she relentlessly preached that true capitalism could not exist in a God-oriented society, believing, as she did, that religions were based on altruism, a concept for which she had unbridled contempt. The rightist hero Rand said this, I didn't.
So how is it that so many religious zealots in the USA preach both Ayn Rand and the teachings of Jesus that she detested?
American is dying of racism and confusion, based on ignorance and laziness. But not the laziness of those who will not work. The laziness of those who will not think.
[Full Disclosure: I once worked in talk radio and became revolted by its culture defined by an utter lack of ethics and truth.]
Jay Diamond pioneered progressive radio in New York City and is currently a media critic and activist. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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