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It’s Official: The Tea Party is Racist

The University of Washington has just published a multi-state study that offers convincing evidence that members of the Tea Party are far more likely to be racist than average Americans. Their results agree with a recent NY Times / CBS News survey that found similar racist attitudes. But Tea Partiers know they should not use overtly racist language, “so they use coded language”. Like about “taking our country back” … but from whom?

If you doubt this, here’s a simple exercise you can do. Imagine the Tea Party doing and saying the same things it does now, but its members are black (or Arabic, or Latino), and the president is white.

Imagine that white members of Congress, while walking to work, were surrounded by thousands of angry black people, one of whom proceeded to spit on one of those congressmen for not voting the way the black demonstrators desired.

Because Tea Partiers did that.

Imagine that hundreds of black protesters were to descend upon Washington DC and Northern Virginia, just a few miles from the Capitol and White House, armed with AK-47s, assorted handguns, and ammunition. And imagine that some of these protesters — the black protesters — spoke of the need for political revolution, and possibly even armed conflict in the event that laws they didn’t like were enforced by the government.

White gun enthusiasts and Tea Partiers did that.

Imagine that a black radio host were to suggest that the only way to get promoted in the administration of a white president is by “hating black people,” or that a prominent white person had only endorsed a white presidential candidate as an act of racial bonding, or blamed a white president for a fight on a school bus in which a black kid was jumped by two white kids, or said that he wouldn’t want to kill all conservatives, but rather, would like to leave just enough—“living fossils” as he called them—“so we will never forget what these people stood for.”

Yup, Rush Limbaugh said all that.

Imagine a black radio talk show host gleefully predicting a revolution by people of color if the government continues to be dominated by the rich white men who have been “destroying” the country, or if said radio personality were to call Christians or Jews non-humans, or say that when it came to conservatives, the best solution would be to “hang ‘em high.” And what would happen to any congressional representative who praised that commentator for “speaking common sense” and likened his hate talk to “American values?”

Michael Savage said those things, and Texas Congressman John Culberson praised him for it.

Imagine that a rap artist were to say, in reference to a white president: “He’s a piece of shit and I told him to suck on my machine gun.”

Rocker Ted Nugent said that about President Obama.

Tim Wise sums it up nicely:

This, my friends, is what white privilege is all about. The ability to threaten others, to engage in violent and incendiary rhetoric without consequence, to be viewed as patriotic and normal no matter what you do, and never to be feared and despised as people of color would be, if they tried to get away with half the shit we do, on a daily basis.



  1. You know, that just ruined my day. It’s not like I didn’t know it and hate it already. But seeing it summed up like that…

    Tuesday, April 27, 2010 at 12:45 pm | Permalink
  2. Iron Knee wrote:

    sorry! Maybe you need some coffee.

    Tuesday, April 27, 2010 at 1:34 pm | Permalink
  3. ebdoug wrote:

    Every time I hear something like this, I think that my three times great grandfather was a rabid abolitionist and first cousin to John Brown (their grandfather was also John Brown). I think that in 2040, the whites will be outnumbered. I think “amen” this is what my family has fought for for years and years. I think make sure the non whites vote in all elections to have their say.

    Tuesday, April 27, 2010 at 1:51 pm | Permalink
  4. Sammy wrote:

    I think a lot of members of the Tea Party, and conservatives in general, while not overtly racist (i.e., they don’t believe their white race makes them inherently superior to other races), indirectly invite the racists into their throngs…which is like saying the getaway driver in a armed robbery/murder isn’t a murderer…he really kinda is.

    Tuesday, April 27, 2010 at 3:00 pm | Permalink
  5. Iron Knee wrote:

    If you read the study, their findings are that a majority of people who identify with the Tea Party movement hold racist attitudes against blacks, latinos, and gays. And two-thirds of Tea Partiers think that racial or religious profiling by the government is ok, which basically means that they approve of official racism (all other groups are opposed to racial or religious profiling). They are also the only group that holds very negative opinions of Obama — for example, only 37% think our president is “Intelligent”.

    In addition, people who consider themselves “true believers” in the Tea Party movement are way out of step with the rest of the country on other issues. For example, Tea Partiers are 25% more likely to believe that “The government can detain people as long as they wish without trial” and 20% more likely to say that “The government can tap people’s telephone conversations.” Is this really the party of smaller government?

    Sammy, when the majority of a group is racist, then I don’t think it is a question of whether or not they are inviting racists in. They are already in, and in many cases they were the founders.

    Tuesday, April 27, 2010 at 6:23 pm | Permalink
  6. Richard wrote:

    They talk in “code.”

    “Take my country back” = I don’t want a black President.

    Wednesday, April 28, 2010 at 1:22 pm | Permalink
  7. Joe Walk wrote:

    you know, there’s racism on both sides… and just because the president is black does not automatically mean everything said against him is instantly racist.

    He’s spending trillions of dollars! “you sir, are a racist for saying that”

    You know people whine and moan about racial equality, but the FIRST thing everyone always screams out when people of different races disagree is that the other is a racist for disagreeing.

    You’re right, maybe some of the tea party members are racist. It is within their rights to be racially prejudiced as long as it does not lead to violent action.

    But the last time I checked, liberal protesters are far more likely to become violent then the tea party members…

    Wednesday, April 28, 2010 at 4:57 pm | Permalink
  8. Iron Knee wrote:

    Joe, of course not everything said against a black person is racist. That was the whole point of the study, to determine if Tea Partiers were actually racist, or if they were merely anti-Obama. Unfortunately for the Teabaggers, the evidence is pretty clear. They don’t just dislike Obama, they don’t like blacks in general. And the results wasn’t that “some” tea party members are racist, it was that the *majority* are racist.

    And please back up your claim that liberal protesters are far more likely to become violent than tea party members. Evidence? Links?

    Wednesday, April 28, 2010 at 5:11 pm | Permalink
  9. Chris wrote:

    Joe Walk,

    The data in this survey seems to contradict your notion that the perception of Tea Partiers and conservatives are racist is based on their disagreement with the President’s policies.

    The data does not say that this movement is racists because it disagrees with the progressive agenda of a black president. It says that this movement disagrees with the agendas of this president because he is black. There is a difference.

    For instance, in your post you state:

    ‘He’s spending trillions of dollars! “you sir, are a racist for saying that”’ Presumably you are making your point that the assumption of racism is a result of disagreement with spending alone.

    However, the litmus test is, where was the anger from these people when white conservative G.W. Bush dismantled a $850B surplus through government expansion (Dept. of Homeland Security, Patriot Act, etc.), and spending on two foreign wars to the tune of approx. $3T?

    If the issue were truly government expansion and blowing the budget, I would expect these same people would have been just as angry during the 8 years prior to the election of Obama.

    It seems that a significant (statistically) proportion of the individuals involved in the movement are racially motivated in their criticism of Obama. They just don’t like the man in power, and color appears – again by the research – to have a lot to do with that dislike.

    Now, I don’t believe *everybody* who disagrees with the progressive agenda are racist. Nor do I think race is the *only* motivator of many of these people. Some are genuinely anti-progressive. But we can’t ignore the data in front of us, which is not entirely anecdotal.

    Racism plays a significant part of the Tea Party movement. If you are uncomfortable with that, then perhaps you should carefully consider your affiliations, if you are in fact affiliated with the movement.

    Thursday, April 29, 2010 at 1:02 am | Permalink
  10. starluna wrote:

    Joe is right on one thing: it is not illegal to be prejudiced.

    It is however, illegal to discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, gender, family status, and in some places or for some things, sexuality and old age.

    So, when police departments harass non-whites who are peaceably assembling, that is discrimination and is illegal. For example, see the case of the young people who were arrested in NY a year or so ago when they were gathering on the street to attend the funeral of a friend, a gathering that was organized in part by the youth, the parents, and the school. The majority of people in the gathering were non-white. All of the people arrested were non-white. However, when a group of white youths were gathering in other parts of NY, those police looked the other way, no one said or did anything. Those youth proceeded to spend their evenings harassing and assaulting immigrants. This continued until one of them ended up killing an immigrant.

    This is, in part, what Tim Wise was talking about. You can be prejudiced; we can’t make attitudes illegal. However, what Wise was referring to was the white privilege that fosters and reinforces discrimination.

    Thursday, April 29, 2010 at 8:27 am | Permalink
  11. slfaison wrote:

    What’s your favorite flavor of Kool-Aid? Perhaps it doesn’t matter. Clearly, you have drunk them all. Have a beer and get sober.

    Tuesday, December 20, 2011 at 8:13 pm | Permalink

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