James McPherson's Media & Politics Blog

Observations of a patriotic progressive historian, media critic & former journalist


  • By the author of The Conservative Resurgence and the Press: The Media’s Role in the Rise of the Right and of Journalism at the End of the American Century, 1965-Present. A former journalist with a Ph.D. in journalism, history and political science, McPherson is a past president of the American Journalism Historians Association, a board member for the Northwest Alliance for Responsible Media, and a professor of communication studies at Whitworth University.

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Is the Tea Party racist?

Posted by James McPherson on July 23, 2010

“There is no racism in the Tea Party,” Rush Limbaugh says. “They don’t have racist signs.”

Just the fact that Rush says something would make most thinking people assume the opposite, and of course in this case he’s wrong again. I’ll paste a few of the obnoxious examples below.

But in one respect, it is wrong to say the Tea Party is racist, simply because there is no specific Tea Party (even if some of them now have their own lunatic queen in Congress). There are lots of different Tea Party groups, some loonier than others, who seem to be more offended by the actions of a black president than they were by the all-too-similar actions of the white president who proceeded him.

And there obviously are racists in the Tea Party movement, perhaps in bigger numbers than elsewhere in society. But racism won’t be the factor that makes the movement largely meaningless in the long run, other than affecting a few primaries (and thereby no doubt benefiting as man liberals as conservatives); their demise will result from a lack of cohesion or any significant goals beyond “waaah!” Take this example, from a USA Today story:

“I don’t really understand it, but I like what they stand for,” says Terry Rushing, 63, of Greensburg, La., who was among those surveyed. “They just support everything I’m looking for — lower taxes, less government. … All the good things, you know.”

No, we don’t know, any more than you do, Terry. But it probably doesn’t matter. Like the one-time media darlings of the pro-Hillary PUMAs, the tea partiers will fade away. Fox News will no doubt miss them, though five years from now probably most of us won’t remember them.

In the meantime, perhaps a few of them will go back to school and improve their spelling:


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13 Responses to “Is the Tea Party racist?”

  1. [...] McPherson’s blog’s latest attempt at keeping the liberal media alive and somewhat credible, fails – falling flatly on his own media sword.   They’ve looked in the mirror, and in response to their question “who’s the fairest of them all?”, they’ve recieved an answer!  [...]

  2. James McPherson said

    Readers: I generally don’t comment on (and sometimes don’t even notice) pingbacks from other sites such as the one above. But in this case, I’d like to strongly encourage you to read it just because it’s entertaining–complete with a picture of a cockroach to represent me.

    I also responded on Josiah’s site, but just in case he doesn’t approve my comment (or in case you don’t want to make the trip over there), I paste it in full here (the comments in quotes are from his post):

    [DELETED: Somewhat to my surprise, Josiah did approve my comment and I've decided that it's more fair to him as a writer for you to read it--if you care to--in context of what he wrote to begin with. You can also see his response to my comment, and though perhaps it's odd for a blogger to refer readers to someone who so strongly disagrees with him, I still think it's worthwhile for readers with some degree of literacy regarding media or politics. And besides, in this case the post made me chuckle, and we all could use more humor.]

  3. [...] Party folks keep claiming they’re not racists. Maybe most of them aren’t. But a fair number of the “Christians” who hang out at [...]

  4. barryb64 said

    Is the Tea Party racist? It is true that there have been some very outrageous stunts as the photo above shows. Yes, I am aware of the Nazi signs and other such junk. Yet, I can’t help but ask this question

    If Pres. Obama had been white, would we even be having this discussion? I think not! When Bush Jr. was in Office; no one got upset with the Far Left mocking Bush in the SAME EXACT way! Because of this reckless behavior on the part f the Far Left, the FAR Right felt embolden to do exactly the same thing.

    However, this is not the case. The Tea Party should have kept an eye out for troublemakers

  5. [...] founder Joseph Farah, Floyd Brown and Michael Webster, and have previously talked about the sign-carrying racists and blogging “electronic Klansmen” cowards who make up some (not all) of their [...]

  6. [...] also supported their efforts — while pointing out that the “party” is as unfocused as supposedly are the Wall Street protesters. But probably no meaningful protest starts with [...]

  7. There are only two kinds of people that are inclined with the tea party movement, one with the great resolve of fixing the the country or taking it back unto the right track, and the other ones are the loud, attention seeking individuals, who wants nothing but political fame.

  8. You’re a very naughty boy, James. I think I should like to play with you……. Um, that white president preceded the mulatto. Oh, dear! Am I now a racist like these crazy Tea-Partiers??!!

    SBJ- I think you are wise enough to see the ignorance of man (not woman, of course) on either side of the fence.

  9. James McPherson said

    I don’t know about naughty, but I may be wrong. This post is now a couple of years old, and the Tea Party–which I predicted above would be forgotten by most of us in five years–is hanging in there.

  10. The Tea Party is an ideology; it will always be around. So what are ya wearin? (Sorry, I can’t resist being naughty and funin you……)

  11. James McPherson said

    Sorry, I’m not interested in those sorts of games, but I am interested in your first statement. What is the ideology that “will always be around”

    I get that they tend to be anti-tax (though our tax rates are low compared to most First World countries and our own historical norms) and anti-government, though it seems to me that they’re often anti-intellectual (in an increasingly complex world), and willing to go along with about anything desired by the multi-national corporations that effectively control both markets and government.

  12. I have been to one of their meetings; have you? What I gathered is that they are Constitutionlists. They’re were black people there, too! Wow! Contrary to what has been said, everyone was very polite. (Reckon it’s cause we’re southerners is all.)

  13. James McPherson said

    I haven’t; I have friends who have. Yes, I have some very conservative friends, and live in a conservative area. Perhaps you missed the line, “It is wrong to say the Tea Party is racist, simply because there is no specific Tea Party.” The signs above came from Tea Partiers, but I never said they were representative of the whole. (After last night’s post, I’d be especially careful about implying that.) I’m glad you had a good experience.

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