Blacks and the Republican Party: Rational Choice or Complicity (FCN, 05-31-2010)
WASHINGTON (FinalCall.com)- A new 100-page report from the NAACP–written by the Institute for Research & Education on Human Rights–paints a detailed, disturbing picture of various associations between national Tea Party organizations and acknowledged hate groups in the United States.
The report details ongoing links between Tea Party organizations and various White supremacist groups, anti-immigrant organizations, and independent militias. In addition, the report reveals, five of the six major Tea Party groups are headed by so-called “birthers”–people who deny President Obama’s citizenship.
“We’ve challenged the Democratic Party, we’ve challenged the Republican Party, and now we’re challenging the Tea Party because we want all parties in this country to stand up for inclusion and basic American values,” NAACP President and CEO Benjamin Todd Jealous told reporters on a telephone press conference Oct. 20.
“These groups and individuals are out there, and we ignore them at our own peril,” Mr. Jealous said. “They are speaking at Tea Party events, recruiting at rallies and in some cases remain in the Tea Party leadership itself. The danger is not that the majority of Tea Party members share their views, 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.”
The report analyzes Tea Party literature and websites, as well as performs original statistical analysis. The authors provide demographic information and specific instances of racist ties.It also offers interactive maps showing where Tea Party membership is located within the United States. It also outlines instances of intolerance and extremism, and it details local Tea Party leaders who have direct ties to White supremacist groups.
“We began the research for this report almost a year ago,” Leonard Zeskind, president of the Institute for Research & Education on Human Rights and one of the authors of the report told reporters on the conference call. “It started for us when we noticed that StormFront.org–a neo-Nazi website–had started a thread to milk into the Tea Parties.
“It started for us when we started to see Council of Conservative Citizens members (formerly the White Citizens Council), which we were keeping track of, getting involved in the Tea Party movement,” Mr. Zeskind continued. “And then, to top it off, the polling data showed that there were significant elements in the population, that when asked whether or not they were pro or against the Tea Parties, they did not have enough information to make up their minds.
“And we saw also that the Tea Party was a lot like a tornado, with gale force terrible winds and storms at the center and was picking up people on the periphery who didn’t know what was going on in the middle of the storm,” he said. The entire report including interactive maps, Mr. Zeskind said is available online at: TeaPartyNationalism.com.
The report reveals that the TeaParty.org faction is led by the executive director of the Minuteman Project, a nativist organization that has in the past been associated with the murder of migrant Mexican workers as part of its vigilante “border operations.” Roan Garcia-Quintana, “advisor and media spokesman” for the 2010 Tax Day Tea Party and member of ResistNet, also serves on the National Board of Directors of the Council of Conservative Citizens, the lineal descendent of the Council of White Citizens, according to the report.
In Texas, Wood County Tea Party leader Karen Pack was once listed as an “official supporter” of Thom Robb’s Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, a modern-day White supremacist organization, the report said. In addition, the NAACP has been running Tea Party Tracker, a website that monitors instances of racism and other forms of extremism within the Tea Party movement.
“The result of this study contravenes many of the Tea Parties’ self-invented myths, particularly their supposedly sole concentration on budget deficits, taxes and the power of the federal government,” reads the introduction to the report. “Instead, this report found Tea Party ranks to be permeated with concerns about race and national identity and other so-called social issues.”
“We have no problem with the Tea Party existing,” said Mr. Jealous. “We have no problem with the Tea Party expressing its views in the great debates in our great democracy. We do, however, have a problem when prominent Tea Party members who have direct ties to organizations like the Council of Conservative Citizens, are allowed to use Tea Party events to recruit people for those White supremacist groups. And most importantly, we have a problem when the majority of the Tea Parties stand silent and doesn’t loudly condemn that sort of behavior.”
The NAACP first stepped into the Tea Party debate with a resolution issued at its national convention in Kansas City this summer which stated that members of the movement have “displayed signs and posters intended to degrade people of color generally and President Barack Obama specifically” and added its “racist elements” are “a threat to progress.” The conservative movement forcefully responded, with former Alaska governor Sarah Palin condemning the organization.
In September, the NAACP partnered with ThinkProgress, Media Matters and New Left Media to launch Tea Party Tracker, a site set up to monitor “racism and other forms of extremism in the Tea Party movement.”
Mr. Jealous said while some initial “good steps” have been taken by some of the Tea Party national leaders–such as the Tea Party Express expelling spokesman Mark Williams for his offensive comments and FreedomWorks making an attempt to highlight more people of color in the movement–the Tea Parties need to go further and expel all birthers, racists and nativists from their midst.
The NAACP specifically lists six individuals it calls “Troubling Tea Partiers.” They include Billy Roper, a White nationalist who was an enrolled member of ResistNet and is running a write-in campaign for Arkansas governor, and Wood County Tea Party leader Karen Pack, who was an “official supporter” of the Ku Klux Klan.
“Here we go again,” Judson Phillips, founder of Tea Party Nation, told the Kansas City Star after the report’s release. “This is typical of this liberal group’s smear tactics.” Sal Russo, chief strategist for the Tea Party Express, said the NAACP has “abandoned the cause of civil rights for the advancement of liberal Democrat politics.”
But the report’s authors stand by their research. “We have also found that there’s just generic racism of the everyday unconscious sort with the flying of the Confederate battle flags,” said Mr. Zeskind. “You’ll note, if you go to our website teapartynationalism.com, we’ve got pictures from the various Tea Party events. One of them is where the Confederate battle flag (was flown). Well, this is not from Alabama or Mississippi; this is a Confederate battle flag flown at a Tea Party event in the state of Washington, not part of the Confederacy. It’s a sign of White resistance. So, we see these kinds of signs and symbols.
“And then, when we looked at the actual talk of these Tea Parties amongst themselves, for example, we found a number of them where they’re fearful of, you know, the demographic transformation of our democracy, as if that’s going to have something to do with one person, one vote.
“We see an assault on the Fourteenth Amendment coming from the Tea Parties. We know that the Tea Party Caucus in Congress, which is 51 congressmen, Congress representatives, led by Michele Bachmann, 39 of them, 76 percent of that caucus, is supporting a bill that’s sitting in the House of Representatives that is aimed at ending birthright citizenship.
“Well, birthright citizenship is part of the Fourteenth Amendment. You cannot claim that you’re for the Constitution of the United States, as all these Tea Partiers do, and also say that you’re for ending birthright citizenship and therefore eviscerating the Fourteenth Amendment,” he continued. The Fourteenth Amendment granted U.S. citizenship to freed slaves, nullifying the Supreme Court’s Dred Scott decision which held that slaves could never be citizens of this country.
Blacks and the Republican Party: Rational Choice or Complicity (FCN, 05-31-2010)