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Kathryn Kolbert

Kathryn Kolbert

Kathryn Kolbert, a public-interest attorney and journalist, is the Director of the Athena Center for Leadership Studies at Barnard College, an interdisciplinary center devoted to the theory and practice of women's leadership.

Comfortable with discriminatory views

Q: On this July 4th weekend, we celebrate Adams, Jefferson and other rebels who dared to challenge the established political order. Putting your own political preferences aside, what do you think the leaders of the American Revolution would view the leaders of today's 'Tea Party?'

While I consider the many of tea party's members views anachronistic, naïve and out of touch with both the needs and views of most Americans, the Founding Fathers would be comfortable with some of their most discriminatory views.

Unfortunately the Founders lived in an age that permitted slavery, an age when women had no legal rights and could not vote, own property nor sign contracts. Although the Founder's Constitutional framework for our nation was brilliant in most respects -- particularly their notion of separation of powers and explicit protection for individual liberties in the Bill of Rights -- the Founders vision was limited by its failure to include women and people of color in the protections afforded white, male property owners.

Thankfully our nations respect for and understanding of the meaning of equality has grown and changed and with the addition of the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments to the Constitution sets forth a more inclusive set of constitutional protections I wish the tea party's attitudes on issues of race and gender would similarly progress.

By Kathryn Kolbert

 |  July 1, 2010; 12:23 PM ET
Category:  Political leadership Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
Previous: Our feuding Founding Fathers | Next: Good ideas obscured by bad leadership


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As a "member" (whatever that means) of the Tea Party I will not countenance any discrimination. If this be true I will no longer associate with or espouse it.

Just for giggles. Can you cite what discriminatory practices or attitudes you allude to? Having been at most rallies I could possibly attend, I have yet to see this in practice. Just asking.

Posted by: theduck6 | July 6, 2010 8:16 AM
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"While our founding fathers failed to transcend the cultural and societal norms of their time ..."

Posted by: kchses1 | July 1, 2010 1:13 PM
Nor did they claim to solve the problem, which is Exploitation of the Labor of "Outsiders".

The evil is done in the Private Sector and cannot be remedied in the Public Sector. Deportation is not an ethical solution, it's a thin alibi for the crime. The Underground Railroad was a failed attempt to cure Slavery this way - get over it.

The founding fathers gave us a transcendent theory of Transparent Government, no more, no less.

The Tea Party wants so much to believe that the founding fathers bought into the "No Wizard - No OZ Paradox of Economics". They can praise the Wizard for visible results and mock the Government for lack of visible results. The point is that if you bought the ticket you have to stay for the whole show, not just the parts you thought were entertaining.

Posted by: gannon_dick | July 5, 2010 6:48 PM
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It's historically incorrect to state that women, in the colonial era or even early republic, had no legal rights and could not own property. Old deed books are full of Marriage Settlements. These documents were filed when a woman brought property into a marriage and did not want her husband to have any legal claim to it. These estates were often administered by male trustees, but that was not a requirement of the law and some women chose to manage the property themselves.

Posted by: morattico | July 5, 2010 12:37 PM
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I agree with the previous comments that there are no citations in support of the allegation that the tea party participants widely support unconstitutional discriminatory policies.

This is my second comment of the day. The first pointed out the name calling tactic and in this one I get to point out the tactic of attaching unsupportable points of view to an opposition group. Nothing I have seen in the statement of tea party supporters would confirm the view of the original poster here.

Posted by: BobThompson | July 5, 2010 10:03 AM
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Wow! I'd like a reference or two on the claim that the Tea Party has "discriminatory views."

I do not associate myself with the Tea Party movement. I have not seen anything of real substance reported that would support the claim that the Tea Party's is taking racial or gender positions.

Are there boorish, bigoted folks in any political, cultural, or social movements? Yes. I'd say that I see a fair share of boorish, bigoted folks associated with the progressives.

I submit that those who play the race/gender card when commenting the Tea Party movement are pots calling the kettles black.

Posted by: Bsix | July 2, 2010 11:59 AM
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What a bunch of drivel. Please cite your source for the tea party's supposedly discriminatory views. It must be nice to spend five minutes lobbing an unsubstantiated bomb and then get it published.

Also if you'd read some history you'd know that many of the founders were against slavery and many of our founding documents, including the Declaration of Independence and Constitution, contained anti-slavery provisions and sentiment. But I guess it's easier to regurgitate the left-wing pablum so that myths are propagated.

Posted by: Kelifu | July 1, 2010 3:24 PM
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While our founding fathers failed to transcend the cultural and societal norms of their time (and who ever does?) they did create a system based on universal principles that could grow and transend the society they lived in.

Posted by: kchses1 | July 1, 2010 1:13 PM
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