Here's David Brooks in 2009:
You wouldn’t know it to look at me, but I go running several times a week. My favorite route, because it’s so flat, is from the Lincoln Memorial to the U.S. Capitol and back. I was there last Saturday and found myself plodding through tens of thousands of anti-government “tea party” protesters.
Now again Sunday:
There are liberals who call conservatives racist as a matter of tactics, too. That happens, as well. Listen, I was out jogging, you wouldn't know it to look at me. I was out jogging (LAUGH) you wouldn’t know it to look at me, I was out jogging on the mall. I was at a Tea Party rally, Tea Party rally. Also there was a group called the Back– Black Family Reunion, celebration of African American culture. I watched these two groups intermingle. Sitting at the same table, eating– watching concerts together. Among most of those people, there was a fantastic atmosphere of just getting along on– on a warm Sunday afternoon.
Thought that was funny–the line about running. I guess it's funny because Brooks looks like every guy his age who engages in some kind of light sporting activity–so it's not surprising that he's a jogger. Anyway. The first passage continues:
Then, as I got to where the Smithsonian museums start, I came across another rally, the Black Family Reunion Celebration. Several thousand people had gathered to celebrate African-American culture. I noticed that the mostly white tea party protesters were mingling in with the mostly black family reunion celebrants. The tea party people were buying lunch from the family reunion food stands. They had joined the audience of a rap concert.
Because sociology is more important than fitness, I stopped to watch the interaction. These two groups were from opposite ends of the political and cultural spectrum. They’d both been energized by eloquent speakers. Yet I couldn’t discern any tension between them. It was just different groups of people milling about like at any park or sports arena.
And yet we live in a nation in which some people see every conflict through the prism of race. So over the past few days, many people, from Jimmy Carter on down, have argued that the hostility to President Obama is driven by racism. Some have argued that tea party slogans like “I Want My Country Back” are code words for white supremacy. Others say incivility on Capitol Hill is magnified by Obama’s dark skin.
First, let me make one quick point about race. There's no reason to believe that celebrating African-American culture puts you at the opposite side of the political and cultural spectrum from the tea party types. Many African-Americans are culturally conservative Christians, some even fiscally conservative Republicans.
Second, watch that next paragraph closely. Let me rephrase: at least one person sees every conflict through the prism of race, and, many have argued that all the hostility toward Obama is driven by race. That little slip there of the quantifier–many argue that all is your hollow man.
As anyone with even a passing acquaintance with these arguments can tell you–some that some of the animosity toward Obama is driven by race. The rest of the animosity, of course, is driven by his being a foreign-born muslim.
In all seriousness, no one maintains that the only reason many conservatives oppose Obama is race. There is, of course, the matter of disagreement over the policies–a fact which everyone recognizes.
Now back to the tea-partiers. Accusations of racism have rightly been leveled against some of them. That some of them do not engage in open race war when they encounter African-Americans does not negate that claim. That only negates the claim that all tea partiers are itching for perpetual race war. And no says that.