Since the Tea Party vehicle started there has been a constant debate over whether the movement is racist. While critics aren’t painting the entire movement as such, there are Tea Party leaders that have made headlines with racially insensitive rhetoric, and evidence of racist sentiments at Tea Party events across the nation abound.
In the beginning, the main issues for the Tea Partiers were big government and government spending, but as time goes on the issue of immigration has turned into a focal point for the movement.
One faction of the Tea Party that is not afraid to associate with nativism and xenophobia is the Tea Party Nation, led by Tennessee lawyer Judson Phillips. Earlier this week, the Tea Party Nation sent out an email to its 35,000 members asking them to post their “horror stories” about undocumented immigrants.
The group has set up a new message board forum specifically for its members to post these stories. The email told supporters to post any pictures/videos that show “illegals or their supporters doing outrageous things (like burning the American flag or putting the Mexican flag above ours, or showing racist posters.)”
Tea Party Nation organized the first Tea Party National Convention earlier this year in Nashville, Tennessee. The opening speaker was nativist Tom Tancredo, who told the crowd that “People who could not even spell the word ‘vote’ or say it in English put a committed socialist ideologue in the White House.”
Tancredo went on to say that President Obama won the 2008 election because, “we do not have a civics, literacy test before people can vote.”
Another group that attended and spoke at the convention put on by the Tea Party Nation was NumbersUSA. NumbersUSA’s founder and CEO, Roy Beck, spoke to the convention crowd about immigration. In 1997 he spoke at the Council of Conservative Citizens (CCC) national conference. Beck denied the claim until the Center for New Community published a picture of Beck at the event. The Council of Conservative Citizens is a white supremacist organization that has referred to African Americans as “a retrograde species of humanity.”
Phillips argued in a FOX News interview that he wanted the undocumented immigrant “horror stories” because, “there are two sides to this story.”
Is remains unclear how these stories will be verified or if they are actually about undocumented immigrants. It seems unlikely that the storytellers would even be sure of the citizenship status of the person they are talking about.
Phillips and the Tea Party Nations claim they are trying to tell both sides of the story, but it’s clear they are really trying to stir up anti-immigrant sentiments. This type of hate-mongering has no place in the immigration debate.