Things I've Tagged ‘Tea Party’

Page 1 of 1

Disingenuous Reporting at the Washington Post

The headline reads: “NAACP backs report that ties racist groups to tea party.“1 Say what? Is this implying that the Tea Party is tied to racists? Because that’s the conclusion I would draw from this headline if I were merely skimming the news this morning. Scandalous. Let’s read a little.

“A new report, backed by the NAACP, has found what it says are efforts by white nationalist groups and militias to link themselves to the tea party movement.“1 Oh, well that’s not quite the same is it? If this sentence is taken on it’s face it merely implicates the groups themselves, rather than the Tea Party. Except that in the next paragraph it states that the report claims “that tea party events have become a forum for extremists ‘hoping to push these (white) protesters toward a more self‐conscious and ideological white supremacy.’ ”1

A little further down you find out that the report isn’t necessarily concerned with the movement as a whole, rather it’s focused on the smaller county level groups that can be more easily infiltrated by these racist, nefarious groups. 2

It isn’t until you find yourself still sort of reading the article near the end of the first page that you get a Tea Party member defending themselves:

The national coordinator of Tea Party Patriots, one of the groups mentioned in the report, said the report’s claims were not credible. “The Tea Party has only articulated three core values for the entire movement,” said Jenny Beth Martin. “They are limited government, fiscal responsibility and support for free markets. Everything we say and do is in support of these values. There is no credible method of making these values racist.“1

Plain and simple, that’s what motivates these guys. I call this disingenuous reporting because the headline and story structure make it easy for an individual to conclude that yes, yes indeed these Tea Partiers are associated with some racist scum. Not only that, but evidence pointing to a conclusion other than racist collusion is placed on the second page, almost the last paragraph:

Other analysts who have begun to study the burgeoning political force have come to the opposite conclusion. A report on political signs displayed at a tea party rally in Washington last month found that the vast majority of activists expressed narrow concerns about the government’s economic and spending policies and steered clear of the racially charged anti‐Obama messages that have helped define some media coverage of such events.

BAM! In your face (if you made it this far) defense of the movement.

It’s pretty clear that what motivates opposition to the Progressive Democrat agenda is purely related to disagreement over policy. I’m no Tea Partier, but I’ve been around enough of them to draw this conclusion without any hesitation.

I’m tired of Democrats painting these sorts of pictures of opposition to their ideas. And the media is happy to spin the same yarn. Good God am I tired of it.

  1. Thompson, Krissah. NAACP backs report that ties racist groups to tea party. Accessed 10/21/2010.
  2. One should probably note that the Tea Party has no official structure or organization. They are loosely related groups with a common set of principles. This Washington Post articles leans towards implicating the lot of them when that should not be the case

Charges of Racism Undeserved–And Hard to Defend

Tainting the tea party movement with the charge of racism is proving to be an effective strategy for Democrats. There is no evidence that tea party adherents are any more racist than other Republicans, and indeed many other Americans. But getting them to spend their time purging their ranks and having candidates distance themselves should help Democrats win in November. Having one’s opponent rebut charges of racism is far better than discussing joblessness. — Mary Frances Berry

This is a rather poignant statement from Mary Frances Berry. She summarizes the strategy that is most effective in discrediting one’s critics–a strategy I have discussed on numerous occasions. The method? That of labeling an opponent as holding some socially unacceptable position that is nearly impossible to refute; this is a most effective strategy because any arguments against such charges are not believed due to the heinous nature of the charge.

The Tea Party has been called out on numerous occasions as a racist group. A group that must denounce racism within its ranks, or else be forever tainted as a political movement. The only problem is that real evidence of supposed racism is hardly prevalent. It is, of course, entirely possible that some small percentage of members hold views that are racist in foundation, but this does not manifest itself in the Tea Party ethos any more than ant‐white sentiment manifests itself in the NAACP’s core principles.

What we see evidence of instead is a group attempting to steer political discourse and fight for principles they truly believe will benefit all citizens. This can be said for the NAACP, Republicans, Democrats, and just about any other political organization. Disagreements around core principles and philosophies on governance have become toxic and are hardly good examples of discussions and debates, particularly when such charges effectively end it.

While the Tea Party isn’t my bag–haha–I do have a certain affinity for the small government philosophy they seem to be espousing; with that in mind, it is difficult for me to tell how racism has any part in debates concerning their ideas. From the few meetings I’ve attended, which makes my sample size prohibitively small, I’ve seen very little to no evidence of any racism to believe they are discussing anything other than what they claim.

Why is defending one’s character against this charge such a difficult proposition? Imagine having a lively discussion about the color of the sky. You and your opponent are deadlocked in a debate about the shade of blue the sky typically is on a sunny day. “I feel it has more purple undertones,” you might say. Your opponent claims, “it is more blue‐green.” The discussion continues like this for another ten minutes, when suddenly your opponent says, “well those who see purple in the sky probably dislike children, and are inherently unfriendly to them.”

Well now, the debate has shifted from the color of the sky to whether or not your like children. You’ve gone no further in discussing the sky or the implications of it being one color or another, you’re stuck defending something that has nothing to do with the debate at hand. While this illustration is rather crude, it should give you a good idea of why accusations of character being related to certain political philosophies have no place in most discussions involving matters of government.

Take my man of straw with a grain of salt, but please don’t accuse me of a character flaw because of my beliefs; instead, debate my philosophy on its merits alone.

The NAACP Is Calling The Tea Party Racist?

This is a very interesting move on the part of the NAACP. Accusations of racism make fighting back incredibly difficult for the Tea Party; not because the Tea Party harbors any sort of racist tendencies, but because when a group or individual is accused of something as strong as racism, outside actors will tend to see any following action or reaction in the light of said accusation.

What this means is that no matter how often Tea Party members claim to have not seen any racist displays amongst other members, outsiders will say, “but that is only your small group, what about the others you aren’t a part of?”

From NPR1:

The NAACP has approved a resolution condemning what it calls “racist elements” within the Tea Party. The vote has sparked a war of words between the two groups, and NAACP leaders hope the move will help fire up its membership with midterm elections approaching.

The fray began when NAACP President Benjamin Jealous issued a challenge to the Tea Party:

“You must expel the bigots and racists in your ranks or take full responsibility for all of their actions.”

Liberal groups, like the NAACP, are rarely ever responsible for the actions of a few fringe members. And they shouldn’t be. Those elements rarely ever represent the thinking of rational members, or the overarching goals of the group–one hopes–but painting this sort of picture of conservative groups is a rather routine occurrence. Why?

Why is the belief in limited government racist? I’ve been to a couple of Tea Party gatherings. The speeches aren’t particularly unique, noteworthy, hateful, racist, et cetera, but what they have to say is representative of a group of people that are troubled by the actions of the government; this is simply because they have an opposing view of governance. Nothing more.

Since I guess I’m a little dumb, could anyone out there explain the racist angle to me?

  1. NAACP, Tea Party Volley Over Racism Claims: Accessed 7/14/2010.