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White Supremacists Targeting Tea Party Movement for Infiltration & Possible Takeover

[1]Com­ment: It real­ly should­n’t come as a great sur­prise, but white suprema­cist ele­ments are tar­get­ing the Tea Par­ty move­ment for infil­tra­tion and co- option. With the GOP’s his­to­ry [2] of involve­ment with Nazi and fas­cist ele­ments [3], they should­n’t be too far out of the Repub­li­can main­stream.

“Tea Par­ty Rejects Racist Label, but Con­cerns Remain” by Judy L. Thomas; Kansas City Star; 7/15/2010. [4]

Excerpt: Bil­ly Rop­er is a write-in can­di­date for gov­er­nor of Arkansas and an unapolo­getic white nation­al­ist.

“I don’t want non-whites in my coun­try in any form or fash­ion or any sta­tus,” he says.

Rop­er also is a tea par­ty mem­ber who says he has been gath­er­ing sup­port for his cause by attend­ing tea par­ty ral­lies.

“We go to these tea par­ties all over the coun­try,” Rop­er said. “We’re look­ing for the younger, poten­tial­ly more rad­i­cal peo­ple.”

Accu­sa­tions about racism with­in the tea par­ty have rum­bled for a year, but they sud­den­ly explod­ed this week with a res­o­lu­tion at the NAACP con­ven­tion in Kansas City say­ing the par­ty is attract­ing peo­ple and groups hos­tile to minori­ties.

The alle­ga­tions prompt­ed irate denials from tea par­ty sup­port­ers, and even crit­ics make it clear that they’re not accus­ing all tea par­ties or par­ty mem­bers of racism.

Indeed, it’s dif­fi­cult to answer the racism ques­tion because the tea par­ty is split into hun­dreds of shards, and the issue of racism depends some­what on per­cep­tions.

Still, it’s clear that some with racist agen­das are try­ing to make inroads into the par­ty.

In sev­er­al instances, tea par­ty mem­bers with racist back­grounds such as Rop­er have played a role in par­ty events. At the same time, The Kansas City Star has found, white nation­al­ist groups are encour­ag­ing mem­bers to attend tea par­ties. One orga­ni­za­tion based in St. Louis is spon­sor­ing tea par­ties of its own.

“There def­i­nite­ly is racism with­in the tea par­ty move­ment,” said Daryle Lam­ont Jenk­ins, an African-Amer­i­can and a spokesman for One People’s Project, a Philadel­phia-based group that mon­i­tors racism. “I’ve seen it, and it’s some­thing they need to deal with now.”

The tea par­ty absolute­ly rejects the racist label, for a num­ber of rea­sons.

Many deny out­right that any inci­dents of racism have occurred. They point out that there are minori­ties in the tea par­ty and that tea par­ties are endors­ing minor­i­ty can­di­dates in some races.

Oth­ers say racism may be occur­ring, but only on the fringes of a move­ment that is so decen­tral­ized that 69 tea par­ties exist in Mis­souri and 24 more in Kansas. Nonethe­less, some in the par­ty have tried to police inci­dents of racism and turn away white suprema­cists.

Bren­dan Stein­hauser, direc­tor of cam­paigns for Free­dom­Works, which orga­nizes tea par­ties, acknowl­edges that some racist groups may be try­ing to “glom” onto the move­ment. But “where we see that behav­ior, we’re going to call them out,” he said.

He not­ed that one tea par­ty in Hous­ton helped expose a tea par­ty leader who alleged­ly made a racist poster.
“Racism is some­thing we find moral­ly repug­nant,” Stein­hauser said. “It dam­ages the move­ment, and it’s just not good for our image or our mes­sage.”

At the same time, Stein­hauser down­plays actu­al racist inci­dents, say­ing he hasn’t seen any him­self.
“Are there infil­tra­tors com­ing in to try to make it look racist or extrem­ist? Yes,” he said. “Are there peo­ple that may have those kinds of views that are show­ing up at our events try­ing to be a part of the move­ment? Sure. But if you talk to 99.9 per­cent of these peo­ple, that’s not what they believe.”

But for Leonard Zeskind, who has writ­ten a his­to­ry of the white nation­al­ist move­ment, the prob­lem is obvi­ous.
“There are hard-core racists brew­ing inside the tea par­ty move­ment,” said Zeskind, author of “Blood and Pol­i­tics” and a Kansas City res­i­dent. “They see tea par­ties not only as recruit­ment oppor­tu­ni­ties, but as vehi­cles to cross over into main­stream Amer­i­can pol­i­tics.”

Is it racism?

For many tea partiers, racism is in the eye of the behold­er.

Take Ron Wight, who stood with dozens of tea par­ty activists at the J.C. Nichols Memo­r­i­al Foun­tain in April, com­plain­ing about the Oba­ma admin­is­tra­tion, its social­ist agen­da and being called a racist.

Those like him who com­plain about Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma are accused of racism, lament­ed the semi-retired music teacher from Lee’s Sum­mit.

Then he added: “If I was a black man, I’d get down on my knees and thank God for slav­ery. Oth­er­wise, I could be dying of AIDS now in Africa.”

Wight doesn’t con­sid­er that com­ment to be racist.

“I wish slav­ery had nev­er hap­pened,” he said. “But there are some black peo­ple alive today who have nev­er suf­fered one day what the peo­ple who were black went through in the ’40s, ’50s and ’60s. Has some­body said some­thing stu­pid or done some­thing stu­pid? Yes, there have been inci­dents.

“But with every­thing that has been done in this coun­try legal­ly and social­ly for the black man, it’s almost like they’ve been giv­en a great leg up.”

Signs at tea par­ty events that have drawn crit­i­cism also have defend­ers.

One poster says: “What’s the dif­fer­ence between the Cleve­land Zoo and the White House? The zoo has an African lion and the White House has a lyin’ African!”

Anoth­er depicts Oba­ma as a trib­al witch doc­tor, wear­ing a head­dress and a bone through his nose, with the words “Oba­macare: Com­ing soon to a clin­ic near you.”

While some tea par­ty events turn away signs that might be offen­sive, it’s not always clear that they depict racism, par­ty mem­bers say.

Anoth­er con­cern — even with­in the tea par­ty — is the actions of some who are in lead­er­ship posi­tions.

A pho­to cir­cu­lat­ing on the web shows Dale Robert­son, founder and pres­i­dent of Hous­ton-based TeaParty.org — also called the 1776 Tea Par­ty — at a 2009 ral­ly car­ry­ing a sign that said: “Con­gress = Slave Own­er, Tax­pay­er = Nig­gar.”

In an inter­view, Robert­son denied his sign was racist, say­ing some­one altered the pic­ture on the web.
“The orig­i­nal sign said ‘slave,’ and some­body changed it to the N‑word,” he said. But then he defend­ed the use of the word.

“I looked the word up in Web­ster, and it says it means polit­i­cal­ly unrep­re­sent­ed,” he said.

Robert­son also sent a fundrais­ing e‑mail that con­tained a pic­ture depict­ing Oba­ma as what some describe as a stereo­typ­i­cal black pimp with a thin mus­tache and wear­ing a zebra-striped fedo­ra trimmed in white fur with a black feath­er on top.

Robert­son said alle­ga­tions of racism in the tea par­ty are com­ing from “peo­ple who have an agen­da, and all they want to do is slan­der this move­ment.”

But some tea par­ty groups have denounced Robert­son.

“We do not choose to asso­ciate with peo­ple that use his type of dis­gust­ing lan­guage,” the Hous­ton Tea Par­ty Soci­ety said in a state­ment issued on its web­site.

The Tea Par­ty Patri­ots also shunned Robert­son.

“We stand firm­ly against any expres­sion of racism and the kind of lan­guage and opin­ion expressed in his (N‑word) sign,” the group said.

The Coun­cil of Con­ser­v­a­tive Cit­i­zens, a St. Louis-based group that pro­motes the preser­va­tion of the white race, has spon­sored its own tea par­ties in some South­ern states.

The council’s web­site has referred to blacks as “a ret­ro­grade species of human­i­ty” and said non-white immi­gra­tion would turn the coun­try into a “slimy brown mass of glop.”

Gor­don Baum, the group’s founder, told The Star that the coun­cil encour­ages mem­bers to par­tic­i­pate in tea par­ties.

He described the tea par­ty ral­lies as “main­ly a white thing, because there’s not a whole lot of blacks that par­tic­i­pate, and the ones that do get to be speak­ers.”

That leads some groups into a bizarre hyper­sen­si­tiv­i­ty, he said.

“They have black speak­ers, and some­times when they can’t get one lined up, they just get some poor dev­il that’s on their side, black guy, in the audi­ence and drag him up on stage,” he said.

Some oth­er white suprema­cy groups also see tea par­ties as recruit­ing grounds.

Rop­er, a for­mer orga­niz­er for the neo-Nazi Nation­al Alliance and now chair­man of White Rev­o­lu­tion, said he has been attend­ing tea par­ty ral­lies to recruit mem­bers and gar­ner sup­port for his 2010 write-in cam­paign for Arkansas gov­er­nor.

Rop­er, a mem­ber of the ResistNet.com tea par­ty, said in an inter­view that he sees tea par­ties as a base of sup­port.

Have tea par­ties been recep­tive?

“It varies,” he said. “If I go to some of the larg­er tea par­ties, I’ll find a few dozen peo­ple at least who are see­ing the world through the same lens­es I have.”

Rop­er said he was kicked out of one tea par­ty ral­ly by a man who said racists weren’t wel­come.
“I told him I’m not a white suprema­cist,” Rop­er said. “I’m a sep­a­ratist.”

For­mer Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke has post­ed a video on his web­site address­ing tea par­ty sup­port­ers. Duke says in the video that the major­i­ty of tea par­ty activists “oppose affir­ma­tive action and diver­si­ty, which are noth­ing more than pro­grams of racist dis­crim­i­na­tion against white peo­ple.”

Tea par­ty on racism

Last fall, the Coun­cil of Con­ser­v­a­tive Cit­i­zens put fliers pro­mot­ing the group on cars at a tea par­ty event in Vir­ginia. In response, lead­ers of the Roanoke Tea Par­ty pub­licly dis­avowed the coun­cil.

In April, an Alaba­ma attor­ney who was sched­uled to speak at a tea par­ty ral­ly in Wausau, Wis., was asked to with­draw after it was revealed that he had a his­to­ry of speak­ing at white suprema­cist events.

Those are among sev­er­al exam­ples of tea par­ties mak­ing it clear they don’t sup­port racist views.

At the same time, though, sup­port­ers want to make sure racist inci­dents aren’t blown out of pro­por­tion.
“We’ve got to rec­og­nize that there are freaks at both ends and they will attempt to attach them­selves to legit­i­mate move­ments,” said Woody Cozad, a for­mer chair­man of the Mis­souri Repub­li­can Par­ty who has spo­ken at tea par­ty events.

“But that does not say any­thing about the move­ment unless the move­ment endors­es or embraces them, which the tea par­ty has not done that I know of.”

Indeed, some tea partiers say they haven’t seen racism at all.

Lloyd Mar­cus, a black con­ser­v­a­tive and musi­cian who has both spo­ken and enter­tained at tea par­ty ral­lies, said he has been to 200 events and nev­er wit­nessed any racist inci­dents.

“It’s women, it’s fam­i­lies, it’s grand­par­ents, it’s kids,” Mar­cus said. “The decent folks that I meet at the tea par­ties, to be called a racist is dev­as­tat­ing to them.”

Ward Con­ner­ly, a con­ser­v­a­tive African-Amer­i­can who has spo­ken at numer­ous tea par­ty events, said he has no qualms about the tea par­ty move­ment.

“I’ve prob­a­bly spo­ken at over 20 tea par­ty events in the last three months, and I’m con­vinced that these folks are ordi­nary peo­ple who are frus­trat­ed with gov­ern­ment,” he said.

Con­ner­ly acknowl­edged that minori­ties are scarce at tea par­ty events he’s attend­ed, but he attrib­uted it to “the atti­tude that minori­ties often have about the polit­i­cal process.”

Some­times lan­guage dif­fer­ences hold back blacks and Lati­nos, he said, while those of Asian descent don’t par­tic­i­pate in polit­i­cal events unless it relates to what they see as their own iden­ti­ty.

Many also are com­plain­ing about racism on the oth­er side. They accuse the NAACP of fail­ing to denounce racist inci­dents by African-Amer­i­cans, such as vot­er intim­i­da­tion by the New Black Pan­ther Par­ty dur­ing the 2008 elec­tions.

“There’s no room for that kind of vit­ri­olic lan­guage in a civ­i­lized demo­c­ra­t­ic soci­ety,” NAACP spokesman Chris Flem­ing said Thurs­day about the vot­er inci­dents.

Watch­dog fears

Those who mon­i­tor hate groups are wor­ried about racism in the tea par­ty.

“There are prob­a­bly close to a cou­ple thou­sand of these local tea par­ty chap­ters now,” said Devin Burghart, vice pres­i­dent of the Insti­tute for Research and Edu­ca­tion on Human Rights, which is final­iz­ing a spe­cial report on tea par­ties.

“A num­ber of these groups have been either thor­ough­ly infil­trat­ed by more hard-core folks, or at least those more hard-core folks are allowed to swim in that same ocean.”

As exam­ples, Burghart cit­ed Robert­son, as well as some speak­ers pro­mot­ed by tea par­ties, such as Red Beck­man, an anti-Semi­te who was once evict­ed from his land by the Inter­nal Rev­enue Ser­vice for refus­ing to pay tax­es.

The racism isn’t com­ing only from the fringe, Burghart said.

“This is not just a nut show­ing up in the audi­ence with a crazy sign,” Burghart said. “It’s some­one who they vet­ted and decid­ed to give a plat­form to.”

Zeskind said racist ten­den­cies may be broad­er with­in the par­ty than even crit­ics real­ize. . . .