Truth-lite in Honduras
Morales & Movements
Laborers & Worker Centers
Tiffany Ten eyck
Prelude to Depression?
PRTs & the CIA
WINESS TO WAR
Fellman's Terrorism History
Engler's Black Book
Zaps - 02-10
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Tea Party Movement
Fertile Ground for White Supremacists?
It began nearly a year ago with tax day protests, as thousands rallied in cities across the country. It continued into the summer with raucous town hall meetings and gun-toting anti-Obama demonstrators. It reached its apex with a September 12 march on Washington, which drew nearly 100,000 participants. Now, some in the tea party movement are turning their attention to becoming a force in the 2010 congressional elections.
Reports on the September 12 event pointed out that it was a nearly all-white crowd with some demonstrators carrying an assortment of anti-Barack Obama "homemade" posters, such as: "The Anti-Christ is Living in the White House" and "Oppressive Bloodsucking Arrogant Muslim Alien."
Is there a future for the movement? A Rasmussen Reports poll suggests that there very well might be. In a three-way congressional generic ballot test survey between a Democrat, Republican, and tea party candidate, Democrats attracted 36 percent of the vote, the tea party candidate received 23 percent, and the Republican finished third at 18 percent (with 22 percent undecided). The Rasmussen Reports website did point out that survey "respondents were asked to assume that the tea party movement organized as a new political party. In practical terms, it is unlikely that a true third-party option would perform as well as the polling data indicates."
Interestingly, in an effort to build the movement, some tea party organizers have taken to "studying the grassroots training methods of the late Saul Alinsky, the community organizer known for campus protests in the 1960s who inspired the structure of [Barack] Obama's presidential campaign," the San Francisco Chronicle reported. They are also using Tea Party: The Documentary Film as an organizing tool.
There is one issue, however, that could stymie the movement's growth: race. Tea party events have become a safe haven for people carrying racist anti-Obama signs, so people of color have stayed away in droves. In addition, members of white nationalist organizations have openly participated in tea party events and view the movement as fertile recruiting ground. Questions about the overlap between tea partiers and anti-immigration activists may be answered if and when an immigration reform bill is taken up this year.
Are the openly-racist elements within the tea party movement an aberration scorned by most tea party participants as many in the movement insist? Or are they more firmly entrenched than tea partiers would care to admit? For the past 17 years, Devin Burghart has researched and written on virtually all facets of contemporary white nationalism. Currently the vice president of the Institute for Research & Education on Human Rights, an organization monitoring and writing about the activities of white nationalist groups, Burghart told me, "The tea parties themselves are made up of a diverse bloc of different political elements, and white nationalists have chosen to make a stand inside the tea parties...."
Not only have "tea partiers turned up with overtly racist signs and slogans," at rallies "from coast to coast," he said, many participants also "cling to the belief that our first African-American president...was not even born in the country." Unfortunately, Burghart noted, "There's little evidence to indicate that tea party leaders are doing anything to address the racism in their ranks."
In an article at the Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights' website, Leonard Zeskind, the organization's president and the author of Blood and Politics: The History of White Nationalism from the Margins to the Mainstream, pointed out that the anti-Obama opposition contains "many different political elements: ultra-conservative Republicans of both the Pat Buchanan and free market variety; anti-tax tea party libertarians from the Ron Paul camp; Christian right activists intent on re-molding the country into their kind of Kingdom; birth certificate conspiracy theorists; anti-immigrant nativists of the armed Minuteman and the policy wonk variety; third party 'constitutionalists'; and white nationalists of both the citizens councils and the Stormfront national socialist variety."
If tea party activists can ferret out racists and white nationalists from its ranks—and not become a mouthpiece for Christian Right ideologues—they could become a much stronger force on the American political landscape. Meanwhile, a host of groups operating under assorted tea party banners have set their sites on the 2010 mid-term elections.
Bill Berkowitz is a freelance writer covering conservative movements.
Bill Berkowitz is a freelance writer covering conservative movements.
Z Magazine Archive
CUBAN 5 - From May 30 to June 5, supporters of the Cuban 5 will gather in Washington DC to raise awareness about the case and to demand a humanitarian solution that will allow the return of these men to their homeland.
Contact: email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org.
BIKES - Bikes Not Bombs is holding its 24th annual Bike- A-Thon and Green Roots Festival in Boston, MA on June 3, with several bike rides, music, exhibitors, and more.
Contact: Bikes Not Bombs, 284 Amory St., Jamaica Plain, MA 02130; 617-522-0222; mailbikesnotbombs.org; www.bikesnotbombs.org.
LEFT FORUM - The 2013 Left Forum will be held June 7-9, at Pace University in NYC.
Contact: 365 Fifth Avenue, CUNY Graduate Center, Sociology Dept., New York, NY 10016; http://www.leftforum.org/.
VEGAN FEST - Mad City Vegan Fest will be held in Madison, WI, June 8. The annual event features food, speakers, and exhibitors.
Contact: 122 State Street, Suite 405 B, Madison, WI 53701; email@example.com; http://veganfest.org/.
ADC CONFERENCE - The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) holds its annual conference June 13-16 in Washington, DC, with panel discussions and workshops.
Contact: 1990 M Street, Suite 610, Washington, DC, 20036; 202-244-2990; convention @adc. org http://convention.adc.org/.
CUBA/SOCIALISM - A Cuban-North American Dialog on Socialist Renewal and Global Capitalist Crisis will be held in Havana, Cuba, June 16-30. There will be a 5-day Seminar at the University of Havana, plus visits to a co-op and educational and medical institutions.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.globaljustice center.org/.
NETROOTS - The 8th Annual Netroots Nation conference will take place June 20-23 in San Jose, CA. The event features panels, trainings, networking, screenings, and keynotes.
Contact: 164 Robles Way, #276, Vallejo, CA 94591; email@example.com; http://www.netrootsnation.org/.
MEDIA - The 15th annual Allied Media Conference will be held June 20-23, in Detroit.
Contact: 4126 Third Street, Detroit, MI 48201; http://alliedmedia.org/.
GRASSROOTS - The United We Stand Festival will be hosted by Free & Equal, June 22 in Little Rock, Arkansas. The festival aims to reform the electoral process in the U.S.
LITERACY - The National Association for Media Literacy Education (NAMLE) will hold its conference July 12-13 in Los Angeles.
Contact: 10 Laurel Hill Drive, Cherry Hill, NJ 08003; http://namle.net/conference/.
IWW - The North American Work People’s College will take place July 12-16 at Mesaba Co-op Park in northern Minnesota. The event will bring together Wobblies from across the continent to learn skills and build one big union.
PEACESTOCK - On July 13, the 11th Annual Peacestock will take place at Windbeam Farm in Hager City, WI. The event is a mixture of music, speakers, and community for peace. Sponsored by Veterans for Peace.
Contact: Bill Habedank, 1913 Grandview Ave., Red Wing, MN 55066; 651-388-7733; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www. peacestockvfp.org.
LA RAZA - The annual National Council of La Raza (NCLR) Conference is scheduled for July 18-19 in New Orleans, with workshops, presentations, and panel discussions.
Contact: NCLR Headquarters Office, Raul Yzaguirre Building, 1126 16th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20036; 202-785-1670; www.nclr.org.
ACTIVIST CAMP - Youth Empowered Action (YEA) Camp will have sessions in July and August in Ben Lomond, CA; Portland, OR; Charlton, MA. YEA Camp is designed for activists 12-17 years old who want to make a difference.
Contact: email@example.com; http://yeacamp.org/.