Tuesday, 04 October 2011 10:50
Uptown New Orleans Anti-Obama Sign Tea's Off Blacks, Demos This Election Year
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Obama signdemocrats across the greater new orleans area should be sending timothy reily bouquets and beignets for his sign attacking president obama that many consider a sign of the times. the self-confessed proud tea party member has energized democrats in a year when democrats were in desperate need for a rallying point. reily has accommodated them with a large yard sign depicting the president in a diaper that has become the subject of demonstrations, rallies and news coverage. 

the discussion by the media that i’ve seen thus far misses the key point. til now the media focus has been on questions like “is the sign racist”? or “is the sign protected free speech”? 

personally, i don’t think reily is a tea partier; i think he must be a closet saboteur in league with the dems, because democrats couldn’t do a better job of motivating african american voters to turn out for an off-election, one that many might have otherwise been tempted to sit out. 

what no one has mentioned is that, for republicans running for office in greater new orleans in the foreseeable future, mr. reily has made getting elected that much harder. that’s because, in a year that republicans are expected to run roughshod in louisiana, the sign has pretty much guaranteed increased black voter turnout in greater nola, if for no other reason, to punish any candidate with an ‘r’ next to their name. 

for one example, in the louisiana house legislative district where mr. reily and his sign both reside, a democrat incumbent is facing what many consider to be a stiff challenge from a republican new orleans businessman.

in a district with about 30,000 registered voters, just over 8,000 are african american. does anyone really think a certain percentage of them are gonna stay at home as long as this sign greets them every day?

i’m pretty sure that, whatever debate about free speech you want to have, the overwhelming majority of those 8,000 have already decided what they think, and it ain’t gonna help any republican. 

and if i’m a democratic candidate, i’m redoubling my efforts in the african american community.  they don’t have to sling mud or resort to negative campaigning. they need only tell voters via mail and flyers that they’re the party that detests the sign, and remind them of where their polling place is located. 

as for the big picture (not the one in the guy’s yard, but the real big picture), reily’s coarse image of the president will have legs over the long haul in the "gret stet of loooosiana".

as democrats try to rebuild their party, this sign will become a rally point for a party in search of sparks to reactivate their base. they will say that the sign is proof that racism still exists in louisiana and now, the racists feel empowered to show their heads once again. 

as for me, personally, i believe that the sign is protected free speech. i also think, personally, that it’s insipid. it isn’t funny or clever; it’s tasteless and goofy. whether it’s “unpopular” depends pretty much on who sees it; it’s in the eye of the beholder. 

i am often amused by critics of my writings who object to my coarser commentary on the teabag movement and the evangelical neocon moneygrubbing sexually frustrated hypocrites who populate it. they say that it’s a shame that i don’t engage in “reasonable debate and discourse” of the issues because the teabaggers are so decent.

in response i need only show mr. reily’s sign and hundreds of others from teabagfests around the country, or watch any televised teabag presidential debate audience.

i say, if what you say is true, that most tea partiers aren’t like that, i look forward to the day when i hear a tea partier stand up and call out the viler elements of their movement and eject them without looking around for mass approval first. sewer bullies always cry and squeal the loudest when someone fights back.

is that civil enough for ya? 

in such instances i always recall a favorite line of mine from the movie “mississippi burning”…to paraphrase an fbi agent in the film: “when these people crawl out of the sewer, maybe the gutter’s where we need to be.”

so if, today, the sewer happens to be in a yard in uptown new orleans, here i’ll be, guardian of the gutter, making sure that when we’ve disposed of the used teabags and their oh-so-civil signs, all they’ll be left with is… what’s left.

Sid Arroyo-sid arroyo



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Sidney Arroyo

Sidney Arroyo is a progressive political activist and consultant who has worked on numerous campaigns in the New Orleans area.

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