‘All in the Family’ Creator Norman Lear Hardly the Voice of Political Civility

‘All in the Family’ Creator Norman Lear Hardly the Voice of Political Civility

In an appearance on Monday’s broadcast of MSNBC’s The Cycle, famed sitcom creator Norman Lear offered his theory on where the fictional character Archie Bunker — the patriarch of his hit 1970s CBS show All in the Family — would fit on the modern political spectrum.

“Archie would have denied the Tea Party,” Lear said. “He would have started the coffee party. He was not a hater and that was the secret of Archie Bunker, he was not a hater.” 

Lear immediately followed up on his statement about Archie Bunker denying the Tea Party by explaining Archie Bunker wasn’t a bigot, but instead a man that feared “progress.”

“He was much more afraid of progress then he was of a bigotry,” Lear continued. “Black people moving into the neighborhood, wait a minute that never happened before.”

Lear later denied his remarks linked the Tea Party to racism.

That’s something an audience can decide for themselves.

But given Lear’s past political activities and statements, such a proclamation about the Tea Party movement wouldn’t seem that far-fetched.

In the early 1980s, Lear created the liberal storefront People For the American Way, which in its infancy was a group tasked to promote the secularization of politics – a sentiment Lear promoted in a 1980 TV ad.

Over the past two-and-half decades, Lear’s brainchild organization has evolved to take on many more left-wing progressive causes, which includes a profound focus on attacking conservative and Christian figures.

At an event celebrating the 30th anniversary of People for the American Way in 2011, Lear called out Rush Limbaugh, James Dobson, and others by name, labeling them “hatemongers.” He also questioned the religion of the slate of Republicans candidates vying for the 2012 Republican nomination.

“I want to suggest we lefties start laying claim to what we see as ‘sacred’ and serve it up proudly to the religious right — to the James Dobson, Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Karl Rove hate-mongers, sheathed in sanctity — and to the Koch Brother types that fund them — and use them so effectively for their own political power-grabbing purposes,” Lear said.

“Over the past several decades, the power-grabbing right has built a powerful infrastructure of radio and TV networks,” he continued. “They’ve built think tanks, colleges and law schools. And funded political groups that prepped the way for the Supreme Court, in Citizens United — to grant corporations the right to provide any amount of financial backing to a candidate or a cause just like any other average citizen. And all of it carried off with an air of holier-than-thou sanctity — no less apparent than Pat Robertson’s when he told me my arms were too short to box with God. And now, as frightening as it is, where do we find that holier-than-thou sanctity most apparent in politics today? Among the seven candidates attempting to prove in every debate we have seen that they are the right kind of Christian to be the Republican candidate for the presidency of the United States.”

In recent years, Lear himself had become a vocal critic of President Barack Obama’s detractors. Earlier this year in an interview with Whoopi Goldberg, Lear admitted he was disappointed in Obama, but tied race to those who sought to criticize Obama.

“[I] don’t think [Obama]’s been treated fairly,” Lear said. “I don’t think the deepest feelings in this country are treating him fairly. And racism exists. It just does. So we’ve got a long way to go. I’m proud of how far we’ve come. But when you what’s happening with the gay and lesbian situation – in just a few years, wham, how fair things have become, relatively fair – we need more of that kickass fairness.”

Lear has not been shy nor judicious in expressing his disapproval of conservatives. So when he makes two concurrent statements – one tied to Archie Bunker rejecting the Tea Party and the other about “hatred” and “bigotry,” it’s no wonder one might think Lear’s view of the Tea Party movement is less than flattering.

Follow Jeff Poor on Twitter @jeff_poor


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