Peter Beinart thinks conservatives would have declared Eric Garner a tea party if he'd been white and lived out in the country:
Imagine that Eric Garner had been white. Imagine that he'd been living in Idaho. Imagine that the law-enforcement officers who killed him had been federal agents.Well, of course, Rand Paul, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and other right-wingers have already made the argument that Garner was a victim of totalitarian enforcement of an unconscionable cigarette tax regime -- but no, they haven't declared Garner a hero, exactly.
His death would be a Tea Party crusade.
Think about it. The police hassled Garner because he had a history of selling untaxed cigarettes. It's the kind of big-government intrusion that drives Tea Partiers nuts....
The Garner case bears some resemblance to that of Cliven Bundy, the Nevada rancher who this spring prevented Bureau of Land Management agents from impounding his cattle after he refused to pay government grazing fees. Like Garner, Bundy was engaged in a form of commerce he believed the government should not tax. Like Garner, Bundy resisted law enforcement's efforts to punish him for it. For many conservatives, this made Bundy a hero and the government that sought to penalize him a tyranny....Yes, but Bundy was fighting a specific war against the feds that's been a right-wing cause for a long time -- grazing your cattle in a way that defies federal law taps into a tamers-of-the-Wild-West mythology that resonates with white conservatives in a way that selling loose cigarettes doesn't. Also, Bundy politicized his case from the start, and declared it a "range war" against the Bureau of Land Management in March. He summoned a network of government haters to back him up. I think if we were to find out that Eric Garner was a tea party backer, a regular Fox viewer, and a Breitbart fan, he'd actually become a hero in the eyes of the right. As it is, the best he's managed is that the right (and not all of the right) has taken his side in this case -- possibly because of the unambiguity of the video, possibly because of the right's obsessive need to have some control over every narrative. Making it about cigarettes is a way of not making it about race, or even about empathy-challenged cops.
To imagine how Fox News would be reacting right now had Garner been white, rural, and facing the feds, you need only imagine how it would have reacted had a BLM agent shot Bundy dead.