The Tea Party movement has links to white supremacists, anti-immigration groups, “birthers” and other “extremists,” according to a report released by the Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).
The 94 page report, entitled Tea Party Nationalism (.pdf), investigates six national organizations “at the core” of the Tea Party: FreedomWorks Tea Party, 1776 Tea Party, Tea Party Nation, Tea Party Patriots, ResistNet, and the Tea Party Express.
“Based on their past allegations about the Tea Parties, I expect the NAACP’s newest attack will once again be riddled with stupid and baseless accusations,” said Project 21’s Emery McClendon. “They are continuing to be the ‘squeaky wheel’ that demands attention and hopes that enough screaming will make their myths into fact. I hope the NAACP’s ‘research’ receives the scrutiny it deserves.”
“Here we go again,” Judson Phillips, founder of Tea Party Nation, told the Kansas City Star. “This is typical of this liberal group’s smear tactics.”
Although members of the Tea Party claim the movement is focused on dismantling an out of control federal government, reducing taxes, and balancing the budget, the report claims that the movement is permeated with concerns about national identity and race.
“In these ranks, an abiding obsession with Barack Obama’s birth certificate is often a stand-in for the belief that the first black president of the United States is not a ‘real American,'” says the report. “Rather than strict adherence to the Constitution, many Tea Partiers are challenging the provision for birthright citizenship found in the Fourteenth Amendment.
Citing one of the links between the movement and extremists, the report says Dale Robertson, the chairman of the 1776 Tea Party, invited Martin “Red” Beckman to be a guest on the Tea Party Radio hour that he co-hosts. Beckman, who was introduced as a “great guy” and “an authority on the Constitution” has been publishing anti-Semitic writings for over twenty years.
Moreover, the report claims that Robertson endorsed a pastor who believes that Jews are a “satanic force” and that “people of color” are less than fully human.
Another faction of the Tea Party is led by the executive director of the Minuteman Project, an organization that has been associated with the murder of migrant Mexican workers. The leader of the Wood County Tea Party in Texas, Karen Pack, was once listed as a supporter of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan.
The report also details the relationship between the white supremacist group the Council of Conservative Citizens and the Tea Party movement.
“The Council of Conservative Citizens promotes the idea that the United States is or should be a white Christian nation; and that Barack Obama and black people generally oppress white people,” page 60 of the report describes. “The Council of Conservative Citizens both led and promoted Tea Party protests. In Mississippi, the organization advertised a ‘Mississippi Tea Party’ at Flowood City Hall on March 9, 2010… the Florida West Coast chapter distributed three boxes of tabloids as well as an unknown number of membership applications at a Sept. 12, 2009 Tea Party in Crystal River.”
The report goes on to describe the involvement of Billy Joe Roper Jr., the former leader of an organization dedicated to creating an all-white country, in the ResistNet Tea Party and former Klansman David Duke’s endorsement of the movement.
Anti-Muslim rhetoric and Islamophobia also permeate the ranks of the Tea Party, says the report.
“We are at a point of having to take a stand against all Muslims,” the ResistNet Tea Party website claimed. “There is no good or bad Muslim. There is [sic] only Muslims and they are embedded in our government, military and other offices…What more must we wait for to take back this country of ours.”
Additionally, Pamela Geller, a featured speaker at a Tea Party Patriots-sponsored convention in Tennessee and at a rally in Arizona sponsored by Tea Party Nation, has claimed that President Obama is “appeas[ing] his Islamic overlords” and that he may be the illegitimate child of Malcolm X.
The Tea Party movement has not just provided a platform for racists and others to express their views, the report also found that white supremacist groups have been using Tea Party events to recruit new members.
Although the report outlines several links between the Tea Party movement and hate groups, the Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights and the NAACP explicitly reject the generalization that the Tea Party is a wholly racist or hateful movement.
“It would be a mistake to claim that all Tea Partiers are nativist vigilantes or racists of one stripe or another, and this report manifestly does not make that claim.”
“We know the majority of Tea Party supporters are sincere, principled people of good will,” said President of the NAACP, Benjamin Todd Jealous. “I hope the leadership and members of the Tea Party movement will read this report and take additional steps to distance themselves from those Tea Party leaders who espouse racist ideas, advocate violence, or are formally affiliated with white supremacist organizations.”
“The danger is not that the majority of Tea Party members share their views,” Jealous added, “but that left unchecked, these extremists might indirectly influence the direction of the Tea Party and therefore the direction of our country: moving it backward and not forward.”
“To attack a grassroots movement of this magnitude with sundry isolated incidents only goes to show the NAACP has abandoned the cause of civil rights for the advancement of liberal Democrat politics,” responded Sal Russo, chief strategist for the Tea Party Express. “The Tea Party Express has publicly and explicitly repudiated racism.”