The Tea Party’s Ethnic Bias
The United States has these convulsions every so often where, motivated by existential fear and the faintest whiff of decline, destructive elements take up the mantle of patriotism and lash out at ethnic, political, or religious fifth columnists. To take one example, during the 1950s when the Soviet economy grew strongly and appeared to offer a viable, alternative model to American capitalism, hundreds of Americans were denounced for alleged communist ties by both Joe McCarthy and the House Committee on Un-American Activities, to the detriment of democracy and pluralism.
Now, as the United States enters its period of relative decline when compared to the rise of China, and as the demographic balance of the nation is altering rapidly as a consequence of the Latino boom, conservative factions have taken it upon themselves to root out a fresh batch of un-American Americans, who most of the time just happen to racially or religiously different from them.
The call for Obama’s birth certificate publication was the first spasm – old, white America scared by the prospect of becoming one minority against many. Then, rather bizarrely, Tea Party Congressman Allen West told a town hall gathering in Florida, “I believe there’s about 78 to 81 members of the Democrat Party who are members of the Communist Party”. The remark, though free of ethnic bias, was made in the spirit to further dividing the United States along political and social lines.
The latest, silliest, and potentially most damaging accusations have been levelled at Huma Abedin by the Tea Party Queen herself, Michele Bachmann. A member of the House Intelligence Committee, Bachmann and four other Congressmen signed a letter alleging without evidence penetration at the heart of government by the Muslim Brotherhood. Bachmann suggested that since Abedin’s late father, mother and brother are connected to Muslim Brotherhood operatives and/or organisations, that she should be stripped of her security clearance on grounds of national security.
What is noteworthy about this is not just those within the Republican Party would have condemned Bachmann – John McCain and John Boehner, to name but two – but those within the Tea Party who have come to her side. Wes Harris, the founder and chairman of the Original North Phoenix Tea Party, has demanded McCain’s recall for his defence of Abedin, burping, “Anyone that is a Muslim is a threat to this country, and that’s a fact”.
And that’s a fact. It is often claimed by its sympathisers that the Tea Party is a purely economic movement. After all, it is a matter of record that the Tea Party’s explosion onto the national scene overlapped with the Wall Street Crash of late 2008. But it is also evident that it is motivated by ethnic prejudice – it can no longer be called a coincidence that their rise to national prominence occurred at the same time as President Obama’s election victory. And is the decline takes root, their concern with the demographic question will only heighten.