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New Report: Racism Still Pollutes Tea Party Ranks

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Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann (R-MN), head of the Tea Party Caucus in Congress, constantly dismisses charges about racism roiling within the ranks of the Tea Party, despite her fingerprints frequently appearing on racism-tinged stink bombs.

For example , Tea Party starlet Bachmann denies charges that racism is embedded in her demand made during a September Capitol Hill press conference for halting the long delayed $1.2-billion court-approved settlement to black farmers for documented discrimination by the US Agriculture Department.

Bachmann called for holding up that settlement, already stalled by US Senate Republicans, until a federal investigation examines her poorly substantiated claim of "massive and widespread fraud" in that pending settlement.

Bachmann's name appears a few times in "Tea Party Nationalism , " the extensive report released recently examining Tea Party activities around America that documents the leadership roles of individuals in the tea-bag movement who also hold leadership posts in fringe organizations including anti-immigrant, pro-Nazi and white supremacist groups.

The report provides specific information on over a dozen such people including : Roan Garcia-Quintana of South Carolina , who the report states recently joined the board of America's largest white nationalist group , the Council of Conservative Citizens ; Texas Tea Party official Karen Pack , identified as being closely aligned with the KKK ; Florida Tea Partier Peter Gemma , cited in the report for his history of anti-Semitism , and Virginia's Larry Pratt, the executive director of Gun Owners of America , criticized in the report for frequently soliciting support from the Nazi-fawning Aryan Nation.

"Tea Party leaders have promoted and provided a platform to known racists and anti-Semites on multiple occasions," states the report states.

Numerous examples in the report showing the involvement of overt racists include a July 2009 Tea Party event in a Capitol Hill park where a Pennsylvania band "with a reputation for anti-Semitism" played music and provided "technical back-up" for that event. This band's intolerance, the report noted, led to its banning from a 2007 campaign event for Congressman Ron Paul often considered the Grandfather of the Tea Party movement.

The "Nationalism" report details how extremists use Tea Party events for recruiting opportunities and for spreading their messages of hate.

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Significantly this report , prepared by the Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights of Kansas City for the NAACP , debunks many of the positions advanced by this overwhelmingly white, politically conservative, Republican-leaning movement, such as the claim that this Party's sole focus is lowering budget deficits, taxes and federal government power.

"Tea Party ranks remain "permeated with concerns about race, and national identity and other so-called social issues," the report states in its introduction. This Party's "storied opposition to political and social elites turns out to be predicated on an antagonism to federal assistance to those deemed the "undeserving poor.""

Congresswoman Bachmann consistently castigates those she deems undeserving.

One of Bachmann's more infamous stink bombs was her charge during the closing weeks of the 2008 presidential campaign that minorities caused the nation's mortgage foreclosure crisis because liberal Democrats forced banks to give mortgages to financially unqualified minorities.

Interestingly, at the time Bachmann made that utterly inaccurate assertion , her Minnesota congressional district"a district that's overwhelming white... led that state in foreclosures. The highest black population in any of the six counties comprising Bachmann's district is just 4 percent , with four of the remaining five counties having black populations of less than 2 percent.

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That "Nationalism" report credits the Tea Party with resuscitating "the ultra-conservative wing of American political life , " yet it criticizes the Tea Party for having had "a devastating impact on thoughtful policy making for the common good, both at the local and state as well as at the federal levels."

While Congresswoman Bachmann does not openly espouse white nationalist or anti-Semitic rhetoric like persons holding leadership roles in the six Tea Party factions examined in the report , she still bears "responsibility" for the racism expressed within Party ranks and for the role she plays in providing credibility for that Party through her GOP position, said Leonard Zeskind, co-author of the report and president of the Institute, during an interview with TCBH.

Bachmann also illustrates the way many conservative politicians seize on Tea Partiers' ire to pander for support from that voting segment, but fail to address issues triggering that ire.

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Linn Washington is a weekly columnist for the Philadelphia Tribune and This Can't Be Happening. Washington writes frequently on inequities in the criminal justice system, ills in society and failings of the news media. He teaches multi-media urban (more...)

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