There have been organizations in America fueled primarily or entirely by racism—by hostility to blacks as blacks or by opposition to, and rejection of, racial equality. ... Then, there have been covertly racist movements like those around the presidential candidacy of Alabama Governor George Wallace. Leaders of these movements may insist they are not really racists, but are merely worried about “states' rights,” or the power of “pointy-headed bureaucrats”... Then, there is a third category that is more difficult to assess. It consists of movements that include overt racists, but that do not make explicitly racial appeals and whose leaders, as well as many of its members, strongly deny that they are motivated by race. Still, there are undertones in concerns about “law and order” or “welfare queens.”It's this last category, he suggests, that best describes the Tea Parties:
People who insist that racism is the driving force behind the Tea Party movement reduce these movements to their racial undertones. These theorists and commentators, who are primarily on the left, are wedded to a monocausal model of American conservatism—based on race rather than class. There are two obvious objections to such a model. First, there are many people in the Tea Party movement who don’t exhibit racial resentment...Secondly, even the opinions of people who might score high on the psychologists’ racial resentment indices are not necessarily dictated by their racial views.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.