The Tea Party’s Mass White Appeal by Glen Ford

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A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
Black Agenda Radio Commentaries
May 11, 2010

Weasel corporate media operatives strain to erase the stain of racism from the Tea Party “movement” – largely a media creation – while white nationalist leaders hide the hoods and nooses in the darker recesses of their bunkers. Yet the data seem to show that racism is what gives the Tea Party mass appeal (45 percent approval) among whites.

A Mad Tea Party

by Helen Cox, used with permission

© All rights reserved.

“A near majority of whites approve of the Tea Party, and majorities of them subscribe to the most debased stereotypes of Black people.”

The corporate media have a problem. The so-called Tea Party movement that is the latest incarnation of centuries-old white American nationalism, cannot escape its racist roots, which makes everything the Tea Partyers say fruit of the racially poisoned tree. Having nurtured the Tea Party phenomenon at every stage of its existence, the corporate media now twist and turn and contort themselves in search of ways to make white nationalism respectable. That’s a difficult mission, since the racism of both the Tea Party’s rank and file and its leadership is not easily sanitized.

Polls associated with major newspapers and broadcast networks have historically been woefully inadequate when dealing with matters of race – as should be expected, since corporate media excel at papering over racial divisions so as not to upset important segments of their audiences. That’s one reason why corporate media speak in “code,” cloaking movements and events that are actually heavily charged with race in coded phrases like “family values,” law and order,” and “fiscal responsibility.” Ever since the Republicans replaced the Dixiecrats as the White Man’s Party, two generations ago, there has been a gentlemen’s agreement among all but the most undisciplined racists to clean up their language in public – to use code when speaking of race, so as not to embarrass one another.

“There has been a gentlemen’s agreement among all but the most undisciplined racists to clean up their language in public.”

But loud and obnoxious elements of the Tea Party movement have not felt bound by this agreement. They have communicated their rage at the erosion of white supremacy in ways that are not only understandable to Blacks, whose antennas are always alert to racial threats, but also to code-speaking whites, a huge number of whom like what they hear.

While the corporate media find ways to fudge the racial character of the Tea Party, academic researchers at the University of Washington released a study showing the Tea Partyers have achieved real mass appeal among whites. Fully forty-five percent of whites either strongly approve or somewhat approve of the Tea Partyers. And, among those whites favorable to the Tea Party movement, “only 35% believe Blacks to be hardworking, only 45 % believe Blacks are intelligent, and only 41% think that Blacks are trustworthy.” Put another way: a near majority of whites approve of the Tea Party, and majorities of them subscribe to the most debased stereotypes of Black people. Which means, the majority of whites who look kindly on the Tea Party are themselves hardcore racists.

But it’s worse than that. The real story lies in how much the general white public shares the worldview of the Tea Partyers. Sixty percent of Tea Partyers agree with the statement, “We have gone too far in pushing equal rights in this country.” But 42 percent of white people in general also think that way, marking them as unreconstructed racists.

In short, the Tea Party’s biggest drawing card is its racism, just as white racism was central to the success of the Republican Party’s “southern strategy,” beginning in the late Sixties. Forget about the Tea Party’s other supposed issues, like the budget and the bank bailout. That’s not what puts fire in their bellies. This is America, remember? Race is all some white people understand. For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at

Black Agenda Radio commentaries are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike U.S. License


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24 thoughts on “The Tea Party’s Mass White Appeal by Glen Ford

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  5. He’s right. There’s no denying this. The teabirthers are a symptom of confederate amerigah’s incurable disease.

    They should make a new racist confederacy in arizona, include texas and quarantine every single driller from AK on down, put up a mile-high fence. Make them go through a huge visa process to ever visit the land of the living and then arrest them on racial grounds. Tar them on their patriotically oiled beaches (wait, weren’t the patriots against British everything, and now they sell amerigoon oil rights to BP?), feather them with the oiled birds they’d shoot anyway.

    Unredeemable, unteachable, uneducable bad culture to its core.

    Give up on Paul’s tea party, he’s not even remotely bright, and his Alex Jones heisted the rightwing conspiracy mania from the Birchers, now coopted by Beck (who then calls bomba a nazi?)

    Bad scene, unworthy of rehabilitation in any way… let them wallow in their precious desert and oil-soaked swamp with their separatist cult of toothless brain-damaged inbred obesity. Build them a megachurch to fantasize about impaling palin.

    If there ever was a reason to segregate, it was to have the teabother racists live on their own gulf island petro-swamp like lepers.

      • Indeed. But we all just got the broadcast from Cindy that she needs money to fight her indictment from Camp Out Now, yet on that same day that she was arrested, the teabirtherspitter and slanderer racists got off with nothing while she spent 50+ hours in a cell. So I’m furious. Racists are irreconcileable. Has anyone truly reformed a racist?

        • I think racism is a crime. Civil disobediance against warmongering is by now a civic responsibility.

          I did the demonstrations, and didn’t get along with police at all, and heartbroken at the lack of effectiveness, I’m a liability to proper activists but supported in other ways as I could.

          I don’t get people at all, birthers get press and crowds and Cindy get’s to stand alone for being entirely correct all this time (as most would by now concur)?

          It’s a huge motivating force, fear and racism, yet it’s entirely disproved. Finally a destructive fantasy is disproved in a lab. Not that it would help truely detestable maniacs, but it’s time we disproved war.

        • Well, we both know that the corporate media sucks, or I wouldn’t be doing this “job”.

          Racism is not a crime. It’s abhorrent, but not a crime.

          The tea partiers who are more concerned with their wallets than human misery need to be shown that the govt is spending too much on the wars/Pentagon/defense budget. The Ron Paulers get it, but unfortunately their grassroots efforts have been co-opted by the Republicans and corporate interests.


        • Lo, I keep thinking it’s time to put up a contribute button. I know, we know you’re the goddess of the news media, but really , this is a huge ‘job’, it’s an immense contribution. There needs to be a way to help, so there’s recompense, this is not without cost! Even down there there’s winter and honey for tea. At least let us buy photos of tomatoes (tormatoes?) and flowers and chemtrails at sunset…. You could sell DS Mugs and fridge magnets! Tee shurts… we’d proudly display them.

        • Thanks, Natureboy. As far as selling items, it’s a bit too capitalistic for me. And almost all my photographs have a creative commons license on them, so they are available to anyone who would like them. I suppose if someone wanted to make a donation, they could contact me via the I could always use a bit more yarn as it does get very, very cold here in the wintertime, and I can’t afford to buy clothing (nor do I want to buy any).

        • Do you take paypal? I want a DS Sweatshirt! Are you knitting?? Do you barter? (I’m working hard to get people here used to bartering, tho if they give me a chicken, it would be a pet!) Sorry to be so off topic, but hoping people amongst your millions of hits get the fact that we have to contribute here! DS is like a free college degree…

        • No, I don’t do Paypal. Bartering is the way to go. That’s why I suggested yarn. That’s something that I could use. And it doesn’t weigh much to mail. I have neighbors that are raising chickens right in the city! So cool. My dog got a kick out of seeing them.

          Thanks again for your support, Natureboy. It keeps me going here day after day. And tonight I’m so tired, I’d rather be knitting, but still not done posting.

        • natureboy , it is no crime to be a rascist and to say rascists things. people of ALL races do it . in my view it is spiritually terrible before God …and other human beings.but in regards to the constitution and the bill of rights every man and woman has the right to say any damn thing they want .
          to be against the first amendment becuase it offends you is to be against freedom . the first amendment is the foundation of it all . and CONGRESS SHALL MAKE NO LAW …….

        • ”i disagree with what you have to say , but will fight for your right to say it ”Voltaire

        • Its time to stop with Voltaire & Rousseau (and Hobbes v Locke, et al). They are dust. We know more now, empirically (hence think less, but that’s another topic).

          There are addictive impulses that cause pain and injustice. Strike first at the addictive impulse. Yes we all have a distrust of the other clan, an evolutionary paranoia (Social evolutionary psychology: “The biggest arse wins”…), but finally we have proof that racialistic impulses are obsolete.

          It’s therefore up to each of us, independently and in our songs, to once and for all address this obsolete impulse, recognize how all the wars and misery is caused by racism and bigotry (not, as maher says, religiosity, look at the root cause, not the construction that legetimizes it).

          Racism is not about freedom, it’s a personal addictive evolutionarily obsolete disease, and it’s been disproved, rendered irrelevant, as obsolete as gorging your metabolic indulgence in fat and salt.

          Racists need to deal with this right now, It’s over, it’s disproved, it’s about the worst addiction you can do to your own mind, because hate kills.

          Do NOT excuse racism as an ‘opinion’, it’s a dangerous, infectious weakness & disorder, as sick as violent psychosis ever gets, and responsible for most all of death & destruction which we all abhor.

          This is not a debate, and you definitely can’t win saying racism is a sacred freedom. When it causes holocausts, pogroms, lynchings, Jim Crow & slavery and massacre of Armenians, this is not even a discussion, let alone a freedom!

        • Yikes I see I vented on that one too! Sorry I’m so stubborn Lo, but this whole attack on Cindy makes criminals of the officials who arrest her, and criminals of all those who don’t take up her cause. We are all so fortunate that she’s still there to remind us of the most basic definition of morality. And still she stands alone?

  6. hey Glen , ”money doesnt talk it swears ”BoB Dylan . this whole tea party movment is not about race, its about money . rememebr the boston tea party and the decleration of independence ? its mjust a rerun of that .
    you remind me of a white supremisist i know who sees things , everything in regards to race.
    i happen to know real tea party people , and they are furiuos at these corporate bail outs. i wish those of us on the left would have such guts and fury like them and speak out .
    dont play the victim anymore. there has been a Caucasian holocaust too in this country . see Howard Zinn’s speech on that called ”the 3 holy wars”.

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