Thursday, October 21, 2010

Tea Parties - Racism, Anti-Semitism and the Militia Impulse

Written by  D. Burghart & L. Zeskind

This section of the Special Report compiles opinion polling data, documents significant examples of racist vitriol on the part of Tea Party leaders, shows incidents where well-known anti-Semites and white supremacists have been given a platform by Tea Partiers, and analyzes the attempt by white nationalist organizations to find new recruits in Tea Party ranks.

Tea Party leaders have bristled at any mention of the racism, Christian nationalism and white supremacy that is a part of their movement. In several notable instances, people of color have been prominently put forward as speakers or entertainers at Tea Party rallies, as if to say: look, this is a racially diverse movement that wants to add more color to its ranks. Prominent among these few individuals has been Lloyd Marcus, previously mentioned in this report as a paid consultant of Tea Party Express.

Nevertheless, Confederate battle flags, signs that read “America is a Christian nation,” and racist caricatures of President Obama have been an undeniable presence at Tea Party events in both local communities and in Washington, D.C. The venom (and spittle) directed at African-American Congressmen during the health care debate carried an unmistakably racist message. It is not the contention of this report that all Tea Partiers are consciously racist. The evidence presented, however, speaks for itself.

Providing a Platform to Bigots

Tea Party leaders have promoted and provided a platform to known racists and anti-Semites on multiple occasions. Dale Robertson, the chairman of the 1776 who displayed the infamous “n****r sign,” for example, brought Martin “Red” Beckman on as a guest to the Tea Party Radio hour that he co-hosts with Washington state talk show host Dr. Laurie Roth. Beckman has been known for over twenty-five years for his anti-Semitic writings and his defense of militias. In 1994, Beckman was evicted from his property in Montana by the IRS for refusing to pay taxes. He now resides in southwestern Washington State.[199]

While introducing Beckman, Robertson said, “Red’s a great guy. He’s been actually leading this fight long before I probably was even born. Red has written many books, one is Walls in Our Minds, another is Why the Militia. And so you’ll find that he agrees with you Laurie wholeheartedly that owning a gun is a constitutional right. And he is an authority on the Constitution and what the government has done to undermine our authority as citizens. It’s a pleasure to have him on board.”[200]

At the end of this program, Beckman promoted his book and noted that “Dale is talking about putting it on his website and I have no quarrel with that.”[201] Robertson added, “I’ve read his books, and they are a must read. Once you read them you’ll realize that we’ve definitely been deceived by our government and we need to do everything in our powers to take our nation back.”[202]

In a separate incident, Robertson endorsed Pastor John Weaver on the 1776 Tea Party Meet Up website. According to Robertson, “John Weaver is a very knowledgeable Christian leader who presents scriptural basis for Constitutional Rights. The Church has not exercised these rights and consequently is in decline. The Constitution is founded on the principal of God and a moral people, without either then the Church and the people of this land will fall victim to an oppressive government.”[203] Robertson also used this Meetup site to advertise an August 29, 2009 “family retreat” with Pastor Weaver in Magnolia, Texas.[204] The site also indicates that Robertson attended that retreat.

Weaver, of Fitzgerald, Georgia, has a sprawling set of connections to neo-Confederates and those preaching the so-called Christian Identity doctrine. He is the former Chaplain in Chief of the Sons of Confederate Veterans.[205] He has spoken at “Christian Identity” gatherings in Branson, Missouri in 1998 and 1999.[206] According to this particular theology, Jews are considered a satanic force (or the incarnation of Satan himself), and people of color are considered less than fully human. By contrast, the white people of northern Europe are considered racial descendants of the Biblical tribes of Israel, and the United States of America is considered their “promised land;” a theory descended from a theology known as British-Israelism. Although Weaver describes his particular outlook as a variant of “Dominionism,” his essay, “The Sovereignty of God and Civil Government” was listed in a book catalogue published by the British-Israel World Federation. As such, this would place Weaver just one step to the right of the most radical forms of Christian fundamentalism.[207]

The list of out-front anti-Semites on Tea Party platforms includes an event in July 2009. One thousand people gathered in Upper Senate Park for a rally in D.C. A full line-up of speakers included representatives from several tax reform groups, FreedomWorks, and talk show hosts. Also on the platform that day was the band Poker Face, playing music, providing technical back up, and receiving nothing but plaudits from the crowd.[208] The band, from Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania, already had a reputation for anti-Semitism. Lead singer Paul Topete was on the public record calling the Holocaust a hoax, and writing and performing for American Free Press--a periodical published by Willis Carto, the godfather of Holocaust denial in the United States. According to Topete, “The Rothschilds set up the Illuminati in 1776 to subvert the Christian basis of civilization.”[209] Because of their bigotry, the band had been kicked off venues at Rutgers University in 2006 and a Ron Paul campaign event in 2007.[210] But they made it to the stage of the Tea Party without any questions asked.

More insidiously, it is common for rank and file activists to use anti-Semitic rhetoric in their web postings. For example, one Hutchinson, Kansas woman, using the name “salthawkmom,” recently wrote a message on a Tea Party website reading: “An international cult, called the Order of the Illuminati-Cabalistic bankers and Freemasons control WORLD finances, their goal is to degrade and enslave humanity.”[211] The “Illuminati - Cabalistic” language is widespread among followers of the John Birch Society and more radical Christian patriot-types active in Tea Parties in the Midwest and South.

In another instance, in April 2009, the San Mateo, California Republican Party chairman was moved to comment on an anti-Semitic graphic used to advertise a Tea Party event, “we strongly condemn the use of anti-Semitic imagery in the promotion of a recent event.”[212]

Signs claiming that “This is a Christian nation” have been part of many Tea Party protests, and they were in particular abundance in September 2009 during the large demonstration in Washington D.C. This should not come as a surprise, since organizations usually associated with the so-called Christian right have been a part of this movement since the beginning. The American Family Association, for example, signed up more than 1,500 organizers to lead protests in their home towns during July 2009.[213]

Founded by the Rev. Don Wildmon in Tupelo, Mississippi, this organization was initially known as the National Federation for Decency. It organized boycotts of the sponsors of television shows such as “Saturday Night Live,” and “Roseanne,” in opposition to the supposed “anti-Christian” character of these programs. It sponsored a boycott of Disney because of its “attack on American families.” And it has otherwise attempted to make its narrow vision of Christianity the law of the land.[214]

Members of this organization continued to participate and lead Tea Party events into 2010. Notably, the president of American Family Association of Kentucky, Inc., Frank Simon, became a director of Tea Party of Kentucky, Inc., and ensured that Louisville Tea Party events had an anti-gay cast to them, according to local reports.[215]

Enter White Nationalists...continued here...