Tagg Romney: Mr. White Privilege
Tagg Romney admits he'd like to slug Obama, becoming the latest white man that thinks he can say whatever he wants
BY DAVID SIROTA
Tagg Romney, grandson of George Romney, son of Mitt Romney, is the latest flesh-and-blood embodiment of White Privilege on the national presidential stage. Though that stage has historically been a catwalk for the whitest and most privileged in the world, Tagg is in a class few achieve. With his lineage and his inherited wealth he equals George W. Bush when it comes to getting advantages by virtue of nothing more than whose crotch he popped out of in the hospital delivery room.
Now, thanks to his comments yesterday, he has surpassed even Bush, becoming not just an image of White Privilege, but an example of how that privilege quietly operates in too much of America.
In a post-debate interview with a North Carolina radio station, Tagg was asked about his visceral reaction to President Obama, and he said his first thought was that he wanted to “jump out of your seat and you want to rush down to the stage and take a swing at him.” He then laughed and added, “But you know you can’t do that because, well, first because there’s a lot of Secret Service between you and him.”
One of the hallmarks of White Privilege is the unquestioned and largely unchallenged assumption that white people can say heinous things about people of color without blowback or even mild criticism — things that people of color rarely dare to say about white people, for fear of serious retribution. Tagg — aka Mr. White Privilege — proves the point perfectly. He feels totally comfortable fantasizing about committing physical violence against an African-American man. And remember, he’s not just any white guy pondering such grotesque dreams. On the contrary, he’s one of the public faces of a national presidential campaign appearing in a public media interview, meaning White Privilege has made him feel so comfortable airing such notions, that he didn’t hesitate to whimsically broadcast them to thousands of voters.
To know that’s a reflection of the new intensity of White Privilege is to witness the relatively muted reaction to the episode from a media that otherwise treats every microscopic nuance of the presidential race as a “breaking news” event. What’s more, this is a country where, whether in an election season or not, any threat of violence against any president of either party is a potential federal crime and thus covered as a major news story. That is, of course, before Obama, a black man, became president, and representatives of his white opponent started joking about physically harming him.
If that’s not enough proof that this episode is a profound example of the pervasiveness of White Privilege, then simply go through the mental exercise of switching the races. Ask yourself: Would the media reaction be similarly muted if a young black male relative of Obama appeared on a radio show and publicly fantasized about violently bludgeoning Mitt Romney? No, it would be the opposite. It would be a multi-day, above-the-fold, 100-point-typeface story initially fueled by Drudge, Fox News and right-wing radio hosts, and then pervading the network news shows. We’d soon see headlines about security beefing up around Romney and his entourage, as staid “Face the Nation” and “Meet the Press” panels — populated by mostly white faces, of course — paternalistically lamented the “race issue” in America.
Now, sure, Tagg maybe wouldn’t actually bludgeon Obama to a bloody pulp if given the chance. Most likely, he’d refrain from doing so out of aristocratic respect for what he calls “the nature of the process,” and even more likely, he’d respond to criticism of his remark by simply saying he wasn’t being “serious.” But what Tagg would do in the secret confines of his fictional Obama beat-down chamber is not important, and using the “not serious” defense only underscores the White Privilege at work, for that defense wouldn’t be accepted if the races were reversed.
Thus, it all comes back to White Privilege. (Cont..)
- Thus, it all comes back to White Privilege. This little episode and the lack of reaction to it confirms Tagg’s — and much of white America’s — unspoken day-to-day assumption that there should be two standards of acceptable decorum: one for privileged white people, another for everyone else.
[bold]UPDATE: [/bold]To respond to some of the comments: This article never argues – nor does it want to argue – that Tagg Romney is a racist. It simply argues that his willingness to say what he said and assume such statements are acceptable proves he enjoys the assumptions and entitlements of White Privilege. Those are two different things. You don’t have to be a bigot to benefit from privilege. Additionally, merely acknowledging the reality of White Privilege isn’t akin to trying to paternalistically tell people of color what to think – it’s simply to acknowledge a basic and troubling reality that hurts our whole society. Finally, let me also offer one more thought to all the white folk who seem angrier at a discussion of White Privilege than at a presidential campaign spokesman publicly dreaming of violence against a sitting president: You aren’t admitting any individual shortcoming or fault as a white person to simply acknowledge that White Privilege exists. All you are doing is admitting a reality – one that should be disturbing to us all, regardless of race.
- It's similar to the teasing of gays, it's accepted behavior by all races. Thankfully, the trend is diminishing, a little anyway.
- Seriously, the fact that this hasn't caused universal outrage, and instead is getting cheers from the Right, shows how low the Republicans have sunk.
- I loved how pissed of White People get over the concept of White Privilege.
They literally have no understanding of the term then get OH SO mad about being "accused" of something that already exists - all the while ignoring the fact that someone of color has been insulted, diminished, or physically hurt, etc.
- How very Jesus Christ Of Latter-Day Saints of him.
- "Seriously, the fact that this hasn't caused universal outrage, and instead is getting cheers from the Right"
That's what the Romney campaign is all about, appealing to voters who think it's right and natural for a white man to be free to punch uppity nigras.
- As a side note: David Siorta is one good-looking man, even sexier that he's now gone gray.
- [quote]That's what the Romney campaign is all about, appealing to voters who think it's right and natural for a white man to be free to punch uppity nigras.
What do you expect? Romney today endorsed the Billionaire company owners intimidating their employees to vote for him. He'll take a vote any way he can, no matter how Un-American it is.
- Oh honey, it's not WHITE privilege -- it's white MALE privilege.
- He's an entitled Cunt with a capital "C".
- What this tendentious little essay does NOT ask is if the kid would have wanted to take a swing at the candidate had he been white. I'm guessing yes. Obama's supporters--I am one--too readily (or cynically) reduce any opposition to him as racism.
- R12, I'm thinking you're wrong in your guess.
Its' not reducing ANY opposition to him to racism to acknowledge how the gross disrespect shown to him by so many people (mostly white, mostly Republican) is based on the color of their skin, and their own unacknoweldged White Privilege.
- Çuntressa Ann must be very proud of her çunty son.
- "What this tendentious little essay does NOT ask is if the kid would have wanted to take a swing at the candidate had he been white. I'm guessing yes."
Why don't we ask Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum, etc.?
They were equally as challenging (if not more so) to Romney in the primary debates. We didn't hear such comments from the Romney surrogates then.
- r12 way to utterly and completely miss the goddamn point.
- It's White Male Privilege and then *Straight* White Male privilege once they get a notion.
- Sorry, R10, but White Privilege most certainly infects plenty of women.
- Are you talking about me? R18
- It is a god damned point. Race generalisations to illustrate passive racism seem to self defeat the argument. I have no doubt Romney is a racist and believes himself superior to anyone outside his world- however, that clearly includes other whites if they don't fit in with his new world order.
What resonates about his comment is how fitting it is from someone who, just like his predecessors such as Bush, are thugs and want to bully the whole world.
- R18, black men make more $$ than white women. Look it up.
- R21, are you drunk? Who is talking about salaries? Your statement at R10 is incorrect.
- Romney's sons all sound like total assholes. I hope they are completely rude and disrespectful to their awful parents as well.
- There's something a little too specific about his answer - the part about the security - that makes it beyond just a violent, inappropriate response and into the realm of scariness. Because he obviously actually contemplated doing it.
How little self-control does he have?
- Isn't even stating a wish to commit a violent act upon an acting president against the law? I know if someone had said this to a reporter about Bush they'd be in Guantanamo by now.
Meanwhile, Tagg Romney IS racist. No need to equivocate there.
- You know, I first read about it and I thought this was an overreaction, I mean an 18 year old kid is naive....then I realized that Tagg is 40+!
Completely unacceptable for an adult. Completely frightening given the family lineage. Bully breeds bully.
- What's really scary is that Tagg is their show pony. Just imagine what the rest of the tribe thinks and says.
Romney has done one heck of a good job keeping the freakshow that is his family out of the spotlight, not just the kids, the divorced "actress" sister, and the brother who got kicked out of the church.
- I think it's more a case of the media letting Republicans get away with saying almost anything, as is usual.