Academy Award-winning actor Morgan Freeman believes race relations within the United States are worse now than they were before President Barack Obama entered the White House. And he had no problem telling Piers Morgan of CNN just what he believed was the driving force behind the worsening relations: The tea party movement.
“Made it worse. Made it worse,” Freeman stated in answer to Piers Morgan’s question of whether or not the election of Obama had helped in eradicating racism. “Look at the — look — the tea partiers — who are controlling the Republican Party, their stated policy, publicly stated, is to do whatever it takes to see to it that Obama only serves one term. What’s — what does that — what underlines that? Screw the country. We’re going to do whatever we need to do to get this black man — we can — we’re going to do whatever we can to get this black man out of here.”
When Piers Morgan asked if he was “unnerved by the traction” that the tea party has gained as a political entity, Freeman admitted he was.
“Well,” he said when asked to explain, “it just shows the weak, dark underside of America. We’re supposed to be better than that. We really are. That’s why all those people were in tears when Obama was elected president. Look at what we are. Look at how — this is America. You know? And then it just sort of started turning, because these people surfaced, like stirring up muddy water.”
President Obama has had a tough time getting bipartisan support for anything he has proposed since taking office in January 2009. And it is difficult to look beyond Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell’s statement made shortly after Obama’s election that the primary purpose of the GOP would be to ensure that Obama’s presidency was kept to four years — a statement that some point to as evidence that Republicans were willing to do anything, including produce intentional government gridlock, to make Obama more unelectable.
Some, like Freeman, maintain that is a product of the underlying racism within the GOP and generated through the tea party movement, which has considerable political leverage in the current political scheme of things.
Undoubtedly, Freeman is correct that there is an element of racism involved in the tea party movement. However, the depths of its influence on the movement is unknown. It is also undoubtedly true that there are elements within the large grass roots movement that do not see race as an issue and only see the political side when they oppose President Obama and his policies.
But is it “a racist thing”? The possibility exists. Not seeing the dark spots on a black panther does not mean they do not exist, nor does it obviate the fact that what one is observing is a leopard.