Racism in the anti-tax crowd

Two firebrands of the anti-tax movement in Minnesota — Michele Bachmann and Tom Emmer — headlined a rally at the Capitol in St. Paul on Saturday, the Star Tribune reported.

But a photograph in the Star Tribune revealed an obviously racist message that muted the message protesters wanted to deliver.

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The rally at the Capitol was organized by Jason Lewis of KTLK. To be clear: Most of the signs were merely political in nature. But, at some point, doesn’t someone have to say, “Hey, buddy, ditch the sign; you’re killing our cause, here”?

Earlier this week, the Washington Post reported that the Tea Party movement, in particular, is battling a perception of racism:


Judson Phillips, the founder of Tea Party Nation, said that at the heart of the effort to counter racism accusations is dissociating from protesters who cross the line. Around the time of the health-care vote, FreedomWorks and Tea Party Nation worked to form a federation of tea party groups to coordinate strategy and do a better job sticking to a similar message, organizers said.

At a protest in Nashville, Phillips said, there were “a couple of signs — which I’m not convinced weren’t plants from the other side — that were really tasteless and inappropriate.” The people who carried them “were told to put their signs down and leave. . . . They were literally thrown out of the event,” he said.

  • I noticed that sign at the end of the rally and found it such an extreme parody of what the leftists try to paint conservative protestors as doing that I presumed it was a plant. I’ve never seen that kind of sign at a Tax Cut Rally or Tea Party before. I’d bet it was a plant from SEIU of AFSCME trying to create an illusion that plays into the racist narritave being pitched by the big government crowd. Pretty low either way.

  • Bonnie

    It appears that Bachmann was leaving the podium after speaking…she would have had plenty of opportunities to ask the sign holder to leave.

  • Bob Collins

    It may have been a plant. It may have been legit. In either case, the opportunity to repudiate a racist message exists.

    Why not, for example, put another person holding a sign in front of this person to block its message, if one is unwilling to do what the people in the Washington Post article did.

    Or have another sign stand next to this person that says “this person is an idiot”?

    Or even embarrass the person and settle the question once and for all by having one of the high-profile speakers point to the person in the crowd, say “you, sir, are wrong” and give everyone the opportunity to shout the person down and make a strong statement to the public you’re trying to sway?

    Of course, saying and doing nothing is a strong statement, too.

  • Ben R.

    I was at the rally from 11am to 2pm and was recording video of the event including the rally signs the entire time. This had to have been a plant, of course I’m not positive, but I was filming signs all day. Everyone seemed to be walking around with their signs before the rally and I NEVER saw this one. This is such an obvious smear campaign, WE ARE NOT RACISTS! Does it feel good to report this B.S. about a rally where concerned citizens met up to talk about it’s government’s fiscal policy…do you even understand what’s taking place in our Capitol right now?! This is not journalism, it’s propaganda.

  • Bob Collins

    //Does it feel good to report this B.S. about a rally where concerned citizens met up to talk about it’s government’s fiscal policy…do you even understand what’s taking place in our Capitol right now?! This is not journalism, it’s propaganda

    Ben, it’s not the job of journalists to disassociate the tea party/anti-tax movement from racism when it confronts you and you have the opportunity to do so. It’s the job of your movement regardless of whether you think it’s a plant.

    We’ll know that’s been done once members of your movement put as much stridency into that disassociation as you do criticizing the media for pointing out when the connection is made in your name.

    There are certain facts here. One is that an obviously racist sign appeared at your rally. The other is nobody appears to have been bothered enough by it to point it out and disassociate from it.

    That’s not my fault. That’s yours. It’s been more than 24 hours, I’ve waded through a pile of messages here and on Twitter. So far, not a single person has criticized the racism of the sign. Not one.

    Look again, please at the Tea Party coordinator’s strategy as outlined in the Washington Post:

    Judson Phillips, the founder of Tea Party Nation, said that at the heart of the effort to counter racism accusations is dissociating from protesters who cross the line.

    Well?

  • Racism pervades the hard right, especially since the civil rights era. However, many whites needed for electoral success by Republicans abhor racism, so the pragmatists try to tone down the base. Unfortunately for them, these hard core followers are either not sophisticated enough or too stupid to hid their own racism.

  • Gary F

    And no outrage about the slang term for mental illness used against Ed Schultz?

    Oh, my.

  • Nhana Ayiwah

    If you’re going to charge that sign holder with anything – it should be “plagiarism”.

    http://www.internetweekly.org/photos/sf_protest_2_16/bush_monkey.jpg

  • Bob Collins

    Interesting, yes, but we’re not really going to pretend I was born yesterday by denying there’s a racist component to comparing an African American to a monkey, are we?

    That would be like arguing comparing, say, a 2nd district congressman to an image or Hitler was a comment on his hairstyle.

  • Bob Moffitt

    I tend to agree with those commentors who insist that that the sign in question MUST have been the work of a “lefty,” and not a Tea Party Patriot.

    The giveaway? The sign is spelled correctly.

    Just kidding, boys and girls. Carry on.

  • It is interesting, the comments posted by Bob Collins who also happens to be the reporter.

    I get the feeling he also has a political agenda he wants to forward…and is using his “reporting” to forward it.

    He obviously, like most “reporters”, is a democrat who wants to raise taxes.

    Maybe someone should write an article pointing to his, that says “this guy is a political partisan hack with an agenda and is a total idiot”.

    for the record Bob, racism is bad.

    So is mindless propaganda.

    So do you think we are all racists?

    I don’t think all reporters are freedom fearing socialists.

    Even though I have WAY more evidence to that point than you do to yours.

  • I look forward to his reporting of the many other rallies and Capitol gatherings, and their distasteful, hate filled, foul and event smearing signs and statement.

    I could post some pictures of really foul signs from the eco-crowd or the welfare crowd or the education crowd…..

    However those people are not asked to repudiate these disgusting signs and statements because “reporters” like Bob the partisan agrees with them and he is just forwarding his political agenda.

    That’s why he never “reports” on them like he “reports” on us.

    Again Bob, for the record, racism is bad

  • The KKK is the violent wing of the Democrat party, ask the senior Senator from W. Va, Democrat and past KKK member Robert Byrd.

    Martin Luther King Jr. was a republican. Condalezz Rice was treated like dirt by “reporters”

    What party is full of racists?….hmmmmm

    Bob are you a racist?

    What have you done to distance yourself from all the racists that surround you?

    Is it enough?

  • Bob Collins

    I could post some pictures of really foul signs from the eco-crowd or the welfare crowd or the education crowd…..

    However those people are not asked to repudiate these disgusting signs and statements because “reporters” like Bob the partisan agrees with them and he is just forwarding his political agenda.

    Racist signs? I’ll take you up on that offer. You may forward them to bcollins@mpr.org.

    I look forward to getting them and repudiating them. I haven’t seen them so I can’t comment on them but if you bring them forward, I’d be happy to do so.

    By the way, here’s a better picture of the sign in question, and the reaction of those in attendance.

  • DG

    There are multiple polls available – CNN is another one – that suggest that Tea Party supporters (1 in 10) feel anger over having a black president (as distinct from policies) is a reason to support the tea party; and a greater percentage of tea partiers believe that racism is not a problem, compared to a larger percentage of the population who do beleive racism is still a problem; and the overwhelming majority of the tea party is white. All of which contributes to the impression that tea party supporters, some if not all, do have unsympathetic attitudes to the problems of racism, and are in some cases racist. It is a perception that is supported by the crowds age and apparent lack of diversity, it is supported not by one poll but by the results of many many polls.

    If this is a mistaken impression – and I am not convinced that it is untrue of a segment of the tea party supporters, based on poll data not on a single sign at a single event – then I suggest that the group can do a lot more to change that perception than it appears to be doing. but NOT by attacking the observations of a reporter.

    The thought crosses my mind that very few of the people I have met in my life who I thought were racist would describe themselves that way; they just thought of themselves as ‘realists’. This experience makes me a bit more skeptical about those who deny they are racist despite conflicting evidence that suggests otherwise.

  • Bob,

    I am just one person. Like you.

    I can only speak for me.

    Are the only foul ideas and the stupid signs that follow worth mentioning the racist ones?

    Are there other ideas,and political agendas bolstered by them, that are also foul?

    I speak of foul signs and you limit it only to the racists ones.

    You say you have an impression, how did you get it?

    You speak of percentages, but they are similar to nearly all political organizations in America and Minnesota.

    You do know there were speakers of all persuasions at the last “tea party” gathering at the Cap.

    What is the % make up of sierra clubbers? The North Star Chapter here in Minnesota in particular.

    My point is there are a large portions of average Minnesotans that disagree with your ideas.

    It is lazy (and I think kinda dumb) to write off me and my ideas by the simple notion that I am a racist (or whatever label you wish to pin on me) and therefore he AND HIS IDEAS can be dismissed.

    Once again, as I have experienced for decades, he can be ignored by us smart people.

    That’s the way it is, I’m used to it. It changes nothing for me.

    I still think it is, like my 9th grade English teacher said, “A losing debate strategy”.

    Bob, you or anyone else can call me at 651-434-8664 and talk to me.

    You can e-mail me at ForrestC.Wilkinson@yahoo.com

    PS: In the late 80’s I was in the Sub-service and was given a just deserved written reprimand from my good and dear friend Vince Williams of Newport New Va.

    I never had and will never have ANY animosity for his actions. I would still walk through much for him, and he also happens to be “African-AMERICAN”… and I am kinda repulsed that in 2010 I have to say these things in defense of my ideas.

  • Bob Collins

    Hi Forrest, and thanks for your note. But you — and many others — are considering the orgiinal notation to be a comment on your ideas. It has nothing to do with your ideas

    And I limit it to “racist” signs rather than “foul” ones because the issue *is* racism.

    You don’t have to defend your “ideas.” Your ideas are irrelevant to the discussion.

    You have to defend your inaction, unless you believe that racism goes away by ignoring it.