Comedienne-activist and “Matchmaker” star Janeane Garofalo pounded Tea Party activists during Bill Maher’s “Real Time” a couple of days ago, equating this summer’s "Tea Party" protests with a darker chapter in US history: the white power movement.
Ms. Garofalo said: "Tea-baggers, the 9/12ers, these separatist groups that pretend that it's about policy are clearly white identity movements. They are clearly white power movements."
That broad brushstroke proved to be offensive to at least one black man in America: David Webb. Mr. Webb is a New York City talk show host ("The Grinder" on AM 970), a Republican, and founder of a Tea Party group in the Big Apple.
So what does Webb want? For starters, a debate with Garofalo, one of the harshest liberal critics of the Tea Party movement. Her views, though not shared by all Democrats, have been hinted at by prominent party figures such as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and former president Jimmy Carter.
Despite his modicum of radio celebrity, Webb is not holding his breath while waiting to hear back from Mr. Maher’s producers. But if he ever gets the opportunity to speak to Garofalo face to face, what would he say?
“I’d like to ask her what is the factual basis for her statements,” Webb said in a phone interview Wednesday. “If you can tell me that even arguably, let’s just say 60 to 70 percent out there at all those Tea Parties and town hall meetings, if you could show me they’re racist, then I’d say most of the movement was racist. But since [Garofalo] can’t, that shows [her statement] to be exactly what it is: a search for relevance and hate speech in its own right, which is what it is when you use hate to get a reaction.”
Webb agrees that, as a black conservative, he does stand out in Tea Party crowds, which tend to be white and middle class. But that visual lack of diversity in the movement – which even Fox’s Bill O’Reilly has noted – doesn’t bother Webb, a former Census worker and founder of the Black Republican Forum, an annual conference on hot-button cultural and political issues in the US.
“What’s wrong if [the Tea Parties] do represent so-called middle America?” he says. “There’s no minimum daily requirement to make something legitimate.”