The cable shows are all going gaga today on Carter's comments about race and there seems to be a lot of discomfort with the idea that many of the teabaggers might have racist motivations. Even some of the comments to my post on the issue earlier indicate that a lot of people don't think race is a factor in these protests, that it is really an attack on liberalism, and akin to what happened to Clinton and others in the past.
I agree that it is akin to what happened to Clinton and others in the past, but the fact is that attacks on liberalism (certainly since 1968) are intrinsically concerned with race. In fact, America's long standing unwillingness to create a decent program of social insurance --- the fundamental cause of the various progressive movements --- is tied to the fact that many white Americans just didn't want their tax dollars to go to racial minorities. Now, many white Americans today may not make that direct connection (I would argue that plenty of them do) but the underpinning of the ongoing American antipathy to expansion of the safety net has many of its roots in racism.
Yes, racism has diminished and it has certainly changed its outward character. But it is one of the foundational principles upon which anti-communism, anti-socialism and anti-liberalism were built. It's baked in to one degree or another and it's no surprise that the dittoheads who have organized their lives for the past few decades in opposition to liberalism are particularly agitated by the election of a black president. It's all part of the same tapestry of fear and loathing that brought them to the teabaggery in the first place.