The tea party movement’s backward march


After watching the Nashville convention of the tea party movement, it is clear that they continue to be a racist, red-baiting movement against health care reform, jobs for all, an end to war, and economic and social justice.

They are out to bring down Barack Obama because they see him as a force for progressive change and they are against progressive change. They are a movement to take our country back to the policies of Reagan, Bush or worse.

As the conference showed, they have few people of color in their ranks. That is because, while they say they are "color blind," they are against any measures for racial equality and inclusion.

The opening speaker at the conference was none other than the notorious right wing bigot, former Congressman Tom Tancredo.

Tancredo told the nearly all-white gathering that the reason Obama was elected was because people voted for him "who could not even spell the word ‘vote' or say it in English." Tancredo went on to call for bringing back literacy tests.

Tancredo's despicable proposal would bring back what was a vicious method of denying the franchise to Black voters and is now illegal, as a way to prevent the election of an Obama type candidate in the future. Looking at his audience, it wasn't a surprise that his remarks were greeted with cheers and loud applause.

Tancredo went on to blame the election of Obama on "the cult of multiculturalism," whatever that is. Tancredo would no doubt prefer to go back to a time when the cult of segregation dominated our national life.

And by the way, in response to Tancredo's ridiculous claims, Harvard Professor Charles Ogletree made the point on the Rachel Maddow Show that most of Obama's votes came from whites.

But the tea party conference was keynoted by a racist speech and no one there objected.

This was a meeting of people who do not believe that the last presidential election was legitimate. They don't even believe that the president is a U.S. citizen. They are opposed to any government spending to help the massive numbers of unemployed, impoverished, foreclosed and evicted - all victims of the Republican-initiated Wall Street ripoff that brought down the nation's economy.

Concern for the 40,000 people who annually die needlessly because they don't have health insurance is not their cup of tea. The 30 million still uninsured should just perish if their coverage is by a government-run program. "Smaller government" is more important.

The tea party notion of "pro-life" does not extend to those who have died because of U.S. pre-emptive wars, and military spending is exempt from their opposition to big government spending.

The conference was an orgy of racist hate aimed mainly against blacks, Latinos, immigrants and the nation's first African American president.

Sarah Palin, the $100,000 speaker, is making hay on the backs of this movement. She thinks she is presidential timber (2012). I doubt it, but for sure she will come out of this a very rich racist, red-baiting demagogue.

It clear to most observers that most of the tea party participants, as shown by their signs and slogans, are opposed to the president mainly because he is black.

Just like the old southern racist hypocrites that for decades ruled the South and had a big sway in Congress, the tea party movement is using red-baiting and anti-terrorist hysteria to rationalize their support for the most reactionary section of the U.S. capitalist class: the powerful insurance monopolies, the armaments industry, the anti-union labor corporate elite.

Sarah Palin has jumped in front of this backward march. She is part of the new McCarthyism combined with racist contempt for the first black president.

Her notion that Obama is more like a college professor and what we need is a commander in chief is another version of calling him "uppity."

To attack Obama for being too smart after eight years of supporting a one-sentence president is ridiculous and racist. This all coming from a politician who has to write crib notes on her hand because she obviously can't retain the most elementary parts of her own program.

Palin knows full well when she attacks Obama that she is furthering racial division in the country, which is an especially dangerous game to play during hard economic times. Her racist attacks on immigrants, that they are bringing the country down; her opposition to any government spending to help working families survive the crisis - all of these attacks give encouragement to the racist lunatic fringe.

Former President Jimmy Carter said the tea party movement reminded him of the pro-segregationist movement he knew growing up in the South.

Television commentator Lawrence O'Donnell said it reminded him of the racist movement that was organized in South Boston in opposition to school integration. O'Donnell said, "These people are more opposed to the president then they are to health care reform." He recounted how the Republican opposition did not treat Hillary Clinton like that when she presented health care reform in the 90s.

Progressive activist and actor Jeanine Garofalo described the tea party movement as the rebirth of the White Citizens Councils.

This movement Palin has jumped in front of is really a movement that hates change and wants to go backward. Their aim is to help the extreme right take back the Congress in November and the presidency in 2012.

Whether they succeed depends on the level of activity of the broad democratic, multiracial, labor and people's coalition that defeated Bush and his right-wing Congress. If they are activated on the issues of jobs, health care and peace the right will suffer another setback.

This fight cannot be won by Obama alone. This fight cannot be won by the Democratic majority in Congress alone.

Without street heat, without real grassroots organizing, we could loss the fight for change and be pushed back to the Bush era or worse. We dare not let that happen.

Consider the Nashville tea party meeting and the elections in New Jersy, Virginia and Massachusetts a wakeup call.

Like Obama did in his State of the Union speech and his confrontation with the Republicans at their caucus, it's time for the anti-racist majority, for the majority that wants health reform, a clean environment, massive job creation, peace, and economic and social justice, to take the offensive.

Photo: Sarah Palin addresses the National Tea Party Convention in Nashville, Feb. 6. On her hand, her crib notes are visible. (AP/Ed Reinke)


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  • Oh, my, my, Mr Tyner. I always feel that calling someone a racist is a great excuse when one cannot think of anything else to say. That was the card pulled on teachers when parents or guardians wouldn't take responsibility for their non-action with their own kids.

    I am a proud Teabagger. I taught in a very segregated school for 21 years. YOU go ahead and ask my students whether I was a racist, sexist, and never spent time after school with them. You ask them if I treated them differently. I dare you. Two of my most wonderful students were not white. They stayed after school with me several times a week. Another young lady (not white) was a tough lass from a tough neighborhood. At the end of the year she wrote me a beautiful note about how much she liked me and would miss me. I often think of her.

    "It clear to most observers that most of the tea party participants, as shown by their signs and slogans, are opposed to the president mainly because he is black."

    I cannot wait to comment on that one. I suppose my two placards, one saying "ENOUGH!" and the other "UNCONSTITUTIONAL!" are just riddled with racist and "red-baited" underpinnings.

    Another thing, Mr Tyner, you may have forgotten that the President is half white. Just a reminder.

    Take heart, Mr. Tyner, all is not lost. I will put you on my church's prayer list: you seem very troubled. God can do for us what we cannot do for ourselves.

    As soon as I gave up blaming people for being prejudiced against me because of my race, gender, nationality, religion, etc., my life changed. I no longer care who dislikes me or my ideas. There will always be those who don't like me for some reason or another. It is just not my problem. It doesn't matter. Letting go of the anvil of hate and blame brought me freedom.

    Mr. Tyner, really it would be nice if you would call a reprieve on the name calling. It is so unpleasant and does nothing but add fluff to your writings.

    Stick to the proven facts, not hearsay. Refrain from generalizations; they weaken an essay. Finally, never, never, never write for a publication when you are angry or out of sorts. It negates, discredits and distracts from your message to the reader.

    Good luck, Mr Tyner, I hope to meet you some day. I know you are a well meaning person.

    Posted by Mary Kathryn , 03/26/2010 9:16pm (6 years ago)

  • I believe that racial in-acceptance is present in this "Tea Party," but not racism that has a face: it's racism that resides in the deep crevices of their mind... a simple and minute instinct that they are separate from other races. This is something that develops in someone who lives separately from people of other race, and I believe it is common in America. Now I wouldn't say I'm Communist, first off- but I believe in the ideals of a society where there is no difference or struggle between race, class, gender, or ideas. These "Tea Baggers" have grown up with this image of America being the land of the free, but they don't have the capacity to truly realize that they don't understand any of it. I know I'm rambling, but I think it's important to discuss the fact that these people think differently than most- that's all. I believe that most of the people who rally with the Tea Party simply include their emotions more heavily in the way they decide their beliefs. I don't think that any of these Tea Parties are bad- maybe annoying at most- but nobody should criticize them... that's unfair.

    Posted by Jon Brumm, 03/15/2010 9:16pm (6 years ago)

  • I was not a fan of Tom Tancredo but I am a fan of literacy tests. If you can't read the ballot what are you doing in the voting booth? I am also in favor of removing all (D) and (R) from the ballots. If you go into the voting booth and only punch the holes beside a (R) or a (D) what business do you have voting? I understand that voting is a right but that should not release us from the responsibility and duty of being informed.

    Call me a racist! or... become informed!

    Posted by Brian Wallace, 03/11/2010 10:35pm (6 years ago)

  • The same weekend of the Nashville Tea Party convention, a scheduled convention in San Antonio by the "teabaggers" was cancelled. Instead of a well attended convention the local rednecks showed their disunity. Charges of misappropriation of funds were slewn back and forth as the gap between the teabaggers grew larger and larger.

    This should not be seen as an end to these reactionaries, only a temporary setback. They will in time reorganize and come back. The irony is that amongst these self righteous are obviously some sleaze who have no qualms about stealing from each other! Just like corporate America!

    Posted by Pancho Valdez, 02/18/2010 2:54pm (6 years ago)

  • Racist Jim,

    Post links to legislation for your 10 points for Obama. Let's see what went with these ten points.

    Here you go with the scare tactics again.

    Posted by Brandy Rivers, 02/15/2010 6:13pm (6 years ago)

  • once again this is an excellent story pointing out the obvious danger of the tea party movement and its racist key note speaker. i understand the tea party is urging their members to run for pct delegate in the republican party thus threatening to move a major party even more to the radical right which further threatens democracy and progress. one may wonder y i compare brandy to rush limbaugh. limbaugh and the rest of the radical right crew poison tv radio and print press constantly downing pres obama the dems and unions. to hear them tell it pres obama has done nothing and is all wrong.(sounds like brandy(rush) oops i mean brandy to me. prof robert p watson of lynn u has compiled 90 accomplishments of the obama administration. one may not agree with all but i have 10. 1.closed off shore tax havens.2. ended previous policy of offering tax benefits to corporations who outsource jobs.3. negotiated deal with swiss banks to permit our govt to gain access to records of tax evaders and criminals.4.expanding vaccination programs.5.lower drug costs for seniors.6.increasing student loans.7. expanded schip program to cover health care for 4 million more children.8. instituted no torture policy.9.improving benefits for vetetans.10.making more loans to small business. for those who think things r bad now if we don't get our act together watch what happens in the election this year (if the radical right captures a lot of seats in congress) look at what happened in virgina new jersey would u like romney or palin in 2012?in solidarity jim

    Posted by jim, 02/15/2010 4:14pm (6 years ago)

  • Jim-

    I have not attacked the CPUSA.

    Obama deserves to be attacked for not enforcing affirmative action.

    The struggle for enforcement of affirmative action creates unity of the working class movement.

    Workers deserve the union reps they vote for.

    Why do you lie about and distort what I write?

    I wonder why the writer of this article has not taken your racist rantings to task.

    Posted by Brandy Rivers, 02/14/2010 1:40pm (6 years ago)

  • thanks brandy(rush ) oops imean brandy hard to tell the difference. your ultra left rantings actually sound more like glen beck y r u always attacking the cpusa and pres obama? how do u propose to build a united movement of unions, women, black americans, white americans, latino americans, native americans, youth, gay lesbian bi sexual transgendered and others that will pull us all together to build that better world that is possible? your approach creates disunity. glad you were never a union rep in my plant instead of the company giving a worker a 5 day dlo by the time u were thru he or she would have had 10 days or more. yes there r some legitimate questions about some of the positions taken recently by the party leadership but there is a difference between constructive criticism and what appears to b always negative in solidarity jim

    Posted by jim, 02/13/2010 5:02pm (6 years ago)

  • Jim I resent your implications. Maybe if you lived on an Indian Reservation like I do where more people are unemployed then employed and 85% of the people live in poverty with a huge public works project underway just down the road with no Native American Indians employed you might think differently about what you write.

    Here in Minnesota the Native American Indian Labor Union #12 is suing to try to get affirmative action enforced on a huge public works project called the Bemidji Regional Event Center.

    Why should Native American Indians have to sue just to get affirmative action legislation already on the books enforced.

    Native American Indians pay taxes just like you and we expect to get jobs on public works projects. More then anything I resent the racism in your sarcastic statement belittling those of us fighting for jobs by insisting affirmative action be enforced.

    Here we have a display of racism by "Jim" right here on the pages of the PW. I don't have to go to a Tea Bagger rally to consume my daily dose of racist insults and humiliation.

    Who is preventing Obama and his Administration from enforcing affirmative action? Obama and his Administration have made a cold calculated decision not to enforce affirmative action because they have lost their supporters who believed in "hope" and "change" and now they will have to appeal to a bunch of racists for their votes if they want to be re-elected.

    Jim, this is all called "institutionalized racism" of which your racist comments are a component.

    Posted by Brandy Rivers, 02/13/2010 2:54pm (6 years ago)

  • Has Obama done anything to break down the institutionalized racism that is the glue holding this entire capitalist system together? If so what has he done? Does Obama even have an opinion regarding affirmative action?

    I wrote Obama asking what he has done to enforce affirmative action last March. Not a response.

    Has the demand for enforcement of affirmative action now become "ultra-leftism" and a threat to unity? If so how?

    What is the basis of this "unity" you refer to?

    If we can't fight united to have affirmative action enforced what are we supposed to be fighting for?

    I don't see very many people uniting to support Barack

    I keep hearing these words.

    "Fight for change."

    "This fight cannot be won by Obama alone."

    What has Obama done or suggested doing to help the unemployed, the impoverished, the foreclosed on and evicted?

    Solutions to these problems form the basis for unity.

    A president doing Wall Street's dirty work is no basis for unity.

    Rahm Emanuel while attacking the mentally and physically challenged and handicapped stated Obama and the Democrats had 13 legislative accomplishments.

    I wrote and asked him what those thirteen accomplishments are. I haven't received a response. Could someone provide me with the links to these 13 pieces of legislation?

    I searched this site looking for the thirteen legislative accomplishments you have supported. I can't find any.

    In fact I don't find a link to one single piece of legislation on this site.

    Would it be too much to ask that the PW publish these thirteen legislative accomplishments along with a link to each piece of legislation that passed?

    I would appreciate it if everytime any legislation is mentioned in the PW that the CPUSA considers worthy of support that a direct link to the legislation be provided along with a link to what is considered the best analysis of the legislation.

    In this way people become active participants in the democratic process with the chance of having a say in decision making.

    Labeling people as "divisive" and "ultra-leftists" without providing any concrete examples is detrimental to unity.

    A united movement supporting progressive solutions to the problems confronting working people does not hinge on people supporting Barack Obama.

    If support for Obama is your criteria for working together with other people and organizations you have probably written of about 85% of the American population that includes me because I reluctantly voted for Obama but don't support him now.

    I am guessing there are a lot of people just like me. Are we all "ultra-leftists" or just plain old "lunatics"?

    Posted by Brandy Rivers, 02/13/2010 2:31pm (6 years ago)

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