Is the Tea Party Real?

Is the Tea Party Real? The reason that I ask this question is because I was doing research on the Web to get a better understanding of who and what the Tea Party was and what it stands for and found things that seemed inconsistent. For one, according to a Gallup poll conducted on April 5, 2010, the “Tea Partiers Are Fairly Mainstream in Their Demographics.” This seemed odd to me because the rhetoric that I heard coming from those said by the media to be most associated with the Tea Party, namely Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin, Ron Paul and Dick Armey, many times expressed that particular segments of the US population were the sources of our ills.


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Is the Tea Party Real?

Is the Tea Party Real? The reason that I ask this question is because I was doing research on the Web to get a better understanding of who and what the Tea Party was and what it stands for and found things that seemed inconsistent. For one, according to a Gallup poll conducted on April 5, 2010, the “Tea Partiers Are Fairly Mainstream in Their Demographics.” This seemed odd to me because the rhetoric that I heard coming from those said by the media to be most associated with the Tea Party, namely Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin, Ron Paul and Dick Armey, many times expressed that particular segments of the US population were the sources of our ills.


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Why The Beck Event Didn’t Need Politics

Palin likened the rally participants to the civil rights activists from 1963. She said the same spirit that helped them overcome oppression, discrimination and violence would help this group as well."We are worried about what we face. Sometimes, our challenges seem insurmountable," Palin said. "Look around you. You're not alone." - Yahoo News

Many of the pundits and talking heads were concerned today about what the motive was for Glenn Beck’s rally over the weekend. Many questioned why Mr. Beck who has been one of the staunchest critics of this president would hold a political rally without the politics? By all accounts the rally was a cross between a revival meeting and a church picnic. There were no political speeches extolling the shortcomings of this president and his administration. There were no references to liberalism, socialism, or Obamacare in any of the speeches. So with one of the largest captive audiences in recent memory why was there no demagoguery by two of the best in the business?

The answer is really very simple. All one has to do is look at the demographics of the rally goers to understand that there was no need for these types of speeches. The majority of the participants were white, over 50, and evangelicals. With this group there was no need for over the top rhetoric, racists signs, or t-shirts. Just as the Pope does not have to detail the tenets of the Catholic faith during Mass at St. Peters Basilica neither did Glenn Beck have to give the tenets to those gathered at the rally? Is there any doubt what the political leanings of those people in that demographic would be? The people who showed up at that rally are conservative right-wing voters and their politics is their religion. In their minds there is no separation of religion and state or religion and politics. America in their minds is a Christian country and anyone who does not share their brand of Christianity is an outsider. One of the reasons that President Obama’s religion is questioned and is treated with skepticism is because he does not espouse or demonstrate their brand of Christianity. So we get “He says he is a Christian and I take him at his word.”

When groups of like minded individuals get together there are certain ideas or values that don’t require being spoken. Your very presence at the event signals your agreement with the group’s positions on politics, social values, and community mores. We are God’s people and everyone else are godless infidels who are not worthy of our compassion but instead they are worthy of our contempt. The thing to remember with group dynamics is that certain words can carry special meaning that the majority of the group understands so even a non-political rally can carry political significance. So instead of talking about liberals or foreigners we talk about those who share our version of religion and those who don’t. To the folks in the crowd the meaning is crystal clear and there is no difference.

"When the government puts its imprimatur on a particular religion it conveys a message of exclusion to all those who do not adhere to the favored beliefs. A government cannot be premised on the belief that all persons are created equal when it asserts that God prefers some." - Supreme Court Justice Harry A. Blackmun

The question that continues not to be asked today is not why more people think that President Obama is a Muslim today than when he was elected. The question that needs to be asked is in a country where we supposedly have freedom of religion why does it matter what religion he is. So we have these endless conversations on the television about what the poll numbers mean to the President’s ability to do his job and no conversation about the hypocrisy of this whole conversation. The thing that should scare the hell out of all Americans who value freedom about the Glenn Beck rally is that today it is the liberals tomorrow it will be the Methodists or the Catholics. A prime example of this is the fall-out from some Christian religious groups that stated following the rally that because Glenn Beck is a Mormon he is unfit and offering a false gospel. You see that once the hate mongering starts it becomes contagious and it will infiltrate and contaminate everyone it comes in contact with.

What Glenn Beck was attempting to do was to marry religion with politics. He is seeking to rally the troops under the cross, the flag, and oh yeah a little gold wouldn’t hurt. America has a history of following these Elmer Gantry wannabes promoting that good ole time religion. The problem with these charlatans is that their version of ole time religion is not very old. I truly believe that no group has done more to divide the Church in the history of the Church than the Evangelicals. According to them God is constantly providing new revelations that only they can hear and decipher which of course makes it next to impossible to dispute. Glenn Beck decries the liberation theology of others yet as you can see from Ms. Palin’s remarks that this is exactly what they are promoting only it is liberation for those who are the most liberated in the country. Who is more liberated than middle-aged white people? What they don’t realize is Beck, Palin and their rich cronies are the ones who are oppressing them.

You can safely assume that you've created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do. - Anne Lamott

The Disputed Truth

Weekly Diaspora: Evangelicals Unexpected Allies for Immigration Reform

by Annie Shields, Media Consortium blogger

With only a week remaining before Arizona’s contentious Senate Bill 1070 becomes law, Arizona human and immigrant rights groups have found unlikely allies among the religious community.

The American Prospect reports that a growing group of evangelical Christian leaders, like Rev. Samuel Rodriguez Jr., president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, are rejecting the traditional conservative stance on immigration, instead supporting President Barack Obama’s call for comprehensive reform.

Southern Baptist and Catholic leaders are also among those who have come out in favor of a path to citizenship, according to New American Media. Following last week’s blacklist scandal in Utah, the stance on immigration reform in the Mormon Church (Utah’s dominant social institution) is under scrutiny. After the news broke of the blacklist of undocumented immigrants– which contained Social Security numbers, phone numbers, even the due dates of pregnant women– a firestorm of controversy erupted.

Many religious leaders chimed in, condemning the list and those who compiled it. However, Mormon clergy have come under fire for remaining neutral on the issue of immigration, despite the Church’s high-profile public support for Prop 8, the gay marriage ban.

Voicing Dissent

Opponents of SB 1070 are pulling out all the stops and preparing for a “statewide mobilization” in Arizona on July 29th. Activists are planning rallies, vigils and civil disobedience protests to be held across the state.

Jennifer Allen, director of the Border Action Network, is helping organize the statewide mobilization. She says that the immigrant rights community isn’t in favor of illegal immigration, but rather a better path to citizenship and an alternative to the enforcement-only approach to dealing with immigration. Speaking to Public News Service, Allen explained her position:

“I have yet to meet somebody who’s undocumented that wouldn’t prefer to be here with documents and prefer to be here legally. We need a system and a policy in which people can come out of the shadows, can come into this country in a safe and legal way.”


Immigration protests aren’t just happening in Arizona, as Campus Progress reports. Advocates of the DREAM Act, legislation that would create a pathway for young undocumented students to live in the United States legally, are taking their message all the way to Washington, D.C. As part of a week of action called “The DREAM is Coming”, DREAM Activists conducted a sit in at the Capitol building, during which twelve participants were arrested. All twelve, who were charged with disorderly conduct, are believed to be undocumented immigrants, and face possible deportation.

Arpaio’s ‘Tent City’

Meanwhile, back in Arizona, law enforcement officials are preparing to begin enforcing SB 1070 next week. As Suzy Khimm reports for Mother Jones, Joe Arpaio, sheriff of Maricopa County, AZ, is ready, willing and able to enforce the new law in his signature tyrannical style, imprisoning immigrants in his infamous “Tent City”. Arpaio has announced that “Tent City” can accommodate over 1,000 new prisoners in the oppressively hot desert. This alternative prison is just one of Arpaio’s many extreme anti-immigrant policing strategies. Khimm writes:

”’I put them up next to the dump, the dog pound, the waste-disposal plant,’ Arpaio once said of his tactics, which have also included chain gangs (for men and women), public parades in pink underwear (for men only), and massive illegal-immigration sweeps. Arpaio’s tactics have earned him the nickname ‘Hitler’ among Tent City inmates”

National Guard deployed to Arizona

With tensions along the border heating up as July 29 approaches, President Barack Obama has ordered 1,200 National Guard troops to be deployed to Arizona, Texas, New Mexico and California. The troops will begin one-year assignments at the border on August 1st. They will be charged with bolstering the military presence and patrolling the border, but won’t directly enforce laws. Instead they’ll aid in policing drug trafficking and migration, and reporting border-crossers to law enforcement.

According to ColorLines, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer has called the deployment insufficient, complaining that it isn’t “tied to a strategy to comprehensively defeat the increasingly violent drug- and alien-smuggling cartels that operate in Arizona on a daily basis.” Colorlines also reports that in addition to the 1,200 troops, President Obama will be sending $500 million for increased border patrol.

Victories for women

Recent news on immigration reform hasn’t been all bad. As Ms. Magazine reports, women asylum seekers have won an important and somewhat surprising victory. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco has ruled that women fleeing femicide are eligible to apply for asylum. As Carrie Baker notes, the decision sets an important precedent.

”[The] case builds on the idea that women’s rights are human rights by asking the government to take gender-based harm as seriously as it takes harms based on political belief, race, nationality or religion. The Perdomo decision is revolutionary in its implicit recognition of a state’s responsibility to remedy violence against women.”

Finally, Areli E. Padilla of New American Media reports that 106-year-old Ignacia Moya, born in the Mexican city of Guadalajara, Jalisco, has become an American citizen after her second attempt. According to the report, “Wearing a blue, red and white blouse representing the American flag, Moya celebrated the occasion with her two sons and some of her 20 grandchildren, 15 great-grandchildren and 12 great-great-grandchildren.”

This post features links to the best independent, progressive reporting about immigration by members of The Media Consortium. It is free to reprint. Visit the Diaspora for a complete list of articles on immigration issues, or follow us on Twitter. And for the best progressive reporting on critical economy, environment, and health care issues, check out The Audit, The Mulch, and The Pulse . This is a project of The Media Consortium, a network of leading independent media outlets.




Southern Baptists join progressives on comprehensive immigration reform

Charles wrote the other day that the Tea Party and Religious Right are merging, citing the Family Research Council’s endorsement of and prayers for TP principals. That’s true as far as it goes, but I think the full picture of evangelical politics is broader than that. A few months ago, I highlighted that, like many other evangelical groups, the Christian Coalition – the group started by Pat Robertson and Ralph Reed – had endorsed Lindsey Graham’s efforts to work with John Kerry on climate legislation. Now it’s the Southern Baptists supporting the White House on immigration.

A recent Politico headline said “GOP warned on immigration” and talked about a possible shift among evangelicals who really do support the “compassion” Bush pretended to stand for. We’re not talking about the progressive American or black National Baptists, but the fundamentalist Southern Baptists. The equally conservative National Association of Evangelicals, which fired policy guru Rich Cizik for supporting civil unions, is also inching to the left on this issue. Here’s the Baptist Press on the Rev. Richard Land, who has headed the Southern Baptist Convention’s official public policy wing since 1988:

"There are some things that require presidential leadership, and the immigration issue is one of them," said Land, who attended [President Obama’s] July 1 speech at American University in Washington, D.C. "This speech by the president, in and of itself, will not solve the immigration crisis, but this speech was a necessary prerequisite to bringing about a fair and just solution to the immigration crisis that is rending the social fabric of our nation.

"In any marriage, you have to first have an initial proposal," he said. "The president proposed this morning. It's up to the Congress to now accept that proposal or to construct its own proposal and to bring forth a bill that will consummate the marriage. We need to call upon our congressmen and senators to behave like statesmen. Politicians think about the next election; statesmen think about the next generation."…

In 2006, the Southern Baptist Convention adopted a resolution on immigration that urged increased border security, enforcement of the laws, and judicious and realistic dealings with illegal immigrants, while encouraging Christian outreach to immigrants regardless of their legal status…

Other evangelical leaders attending who support comprehensive reform were Leith Anderson, president of the National Association of Evangelicals, and Samuel Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Council.

And what exactly does “realistic dealings with illegal immigrants” mean? Land told NPR last month, “The vast majority of these people are law abiding citizens once they've gotten here. They've worked hard. It's not realistic that we're going to round them up and send them home… I think that we need to have a pathway, an earned pathway to legal status or citizenship, whichever they prefer.”

There will always be “libertarian” folks in the woods who have their God and have their Gun and want to be left alone. There will also always be authoritarian-minded families in the suburbs who just want to be told what to believe because that’s easier. These folks, however, may make up the backbone of the Tea Party, but they are no longer representative of white evangelical voters in this country. The younger generation is splitting from the old guard, as happens every few decades in evangelical politics. True, the Politico article cites a poll showing most evangelicals don't necessarily agree with Land, but it was also less than two years ago that a PBS-commissioned GQR poll found a majority of self-identified evangelicals under 30 support either gay marriage or civil unions. This is no longer a movement, I don’t think, that can be painted with one broad brush.


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