Archive for the ‘tea party’ Category

Taking Lessons from Texas?

January 24, 2012

Seems that it’s not just the Texas State Board of Education that wants to revise American history to fit a particular ideological agenda. Now Tennessee Tea Party activists are trying to do the same thing in their state. From the Wall Street Journal:

The late comedian George Carlin used to say America was built on a double standard: “This country was founded by slave owners who wanted to be free.”

We wonder how his joke would have sat with members of Tennessee’s tea party, which just presented state legislators with five priorities for action, including amending state laws governing school curriculums to change textbook selection so that “no portrayal of minority experience in the history which actually occurred shall obscure the experience or contributions of the Founding Fathers,” the Memphis Commercial Appeal reported.

Hal Rounds, an attorney and a spokesman for the group, said the goal is to address “an awful lot of made-up criticism about, for instance, the founders intruding on the Indians or having slaves or being hypocrites in one way or another,” according to the Commercial Appeal.

“Made up”? Does he think some of the founders didn’t have slaves? That Indians didn’t lose their lands? It’s important that students learn the facts about American history, including the virtues and, when relevant, some of the failings of our founders. Public schools shouldn’t whitewash and revise history to meet the demands of political ideologues.

Read the whole thing here.

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Too Poor to Vote?

November 14, 2011

A Houston Tea Party group that made wild charges about “voter fraud” in Harris County last year apparently thinks folks should learn more about the ideas of a far-right extremist who believes that registering poor people to vote is un-American. We wonder whether Plano-based Liberty Institute, the Texas affiliate of Focus on the Family that defended the King Street Patrtiots’ controversial “anti-fraud” campaign, will leap to the group’s defense again.

Talking Points Memo reports that King Street Patriots invited Matthew Vadum, author of Subversion Inc.: How Obama’s ACORN Red Shirts are Still Terrorizing and Ripping Off American Taxpayers, to speak at a lunch in Houston today. Vadum, TPM writes, thinks that registering poor people to vote is un-American and “like handing out burglary tools to criminals.” Moreover, he says, helping poor people vote “could lead to the destruction of the republic.”

Liberty Institute, which supported the State Board of Education’s politicization of new social studies curriculum standards for Texas public schools last year, associates with really fine people, yes?

Talking Points

June 23, 2011

From today’s TFN News Clips:

“If you want to know why we can’t pass legislation in Texas, it’s because we have 37, no 36, Hispanics in the Legislature. All of the states that have passed legislation have a handful and I mean literally, some of them have NO Hispanic legislators, well, maybe 3 or 5 or something. So that’s, umm, part of our problem and we need to change those numbers. . . . So the problem is these Hispanic legislators . . . is that it’s too close to them and they, umm. . . simply cannot vote their conscience correctly.”

— Tea Party leader Rebecca Forest, complaining at a rally at the Texas Capitol about the difficulty in passing a bill barring so-called “sanctuary cities” (which don’t exist in Texas anyway). (Video available at the link.)

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Small Government or Small Minds?

February 11, 2011

The so-called “Tea Party” movement has claimed the last couple of years to be focused on shrinking government. But often the intolerant rhetoric of its leaders betrays such claims as terribly disingenuous. Case in point: Dallas Tea Party leader Phillip Dennis’ televised attacks on the faith of President Obama and on Muslims this week.

MSNBC’s Hardball host Chris Matthews asked Dennis whether he thinks President Obama is a Muslim. Dennis apparently couldn’t help himself, replying, “I don’t know.”

Pressed further by Matthews, Dennis said:

“If he’s a Christian, I certainly don’t like the brand of Christianity he went to in Chicago for 20 years.”

Then he criticized the president for “reaching out to Muslims”:

“President Obama certainly has a soft spot in his heart for Islam.”

Dennis also attacked Islam, smearing all Muslims for the actions of extremists, before once again questioning the president’s clear and repeated statements that he is a Christian:

“I have a big problem with Islam. It calls itself the religion of peace when everyday it continues around the world to show itself to be anything but. So I think those people [who question President Obama’s faith] have a right. Certainly it’s understandable that they might have a problem that our president might be Muslim. Absolutely.”

We have pointed out before that the Tea Party movement in Texas often marches alongside the intolerant religious right. Dennis’ disgraceful statements simply reinforce our point.

(Hat tip: Talking Points Memo)

‘The Willingness to Die’

January 12, 2011

Think the tea party is going to tone down its violent rhetoric in the wake of the horrific shooting that left six innocent people dead in Arizona last weekend?

Think the religious right is willing to let lawmakers focus on critical fiscal issues in these tough economic times?

Think the far right has recognized the need for compromise to govern in a sharply divided nation?

Not in Texas.

“Do they [politicians] have the willingness to die to overturn the tyranny we see not only in this nation but in this state? That’s what it’s going to take. Do you hear me? That’s what it’s gonna take!”

That’s Apostle Clāver T. Kamau-Imani of a group called “Raging Elephant,” speaking at a rally of several hundred tea party activists at the Texas Capitol on Tuesday. Kamau-Imani and other speakers left little doubt about what their extremist vision for politics in Texas entails.

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Tea Party Nation Founder Attacks Methodists

December 21, 2010

Polls show a significant minority of Americans voice support for the Tea Party, an anti-government movement tied closely to a variety of right-wing funders, lobbyists and causes. Whether or not we agree with them on specifics, we don’t doubt that there are civic-minded Tea Partiers frustrated about what they see as over-reaching government. But it has become clear that the Tea Party movement is tied more and more to religious and political extremists. The newest example is an online rant by Tea Party Nation founder Judson Phillips against, believe it or not, the United Methodist Church. Writing in a blog post on Sunday, Phillips attacks the church for its support of immigration reform and allegedly a “social justice manifesto [that] is like reading a socialist wish list”:

“They want amnesty, they want ‘economic justice’, they opposed ‘global climate change’ (earth to the Methodists, man isn’t doing it), fighting global poverty (here is another hint, most poverty is caused by a lack of freedom and lack of a free enterprise system). Not shockingly, the Methodists side with the Islamists against Israel, and of course oppose America in Iraq.”

Phillips says his dream is “no more United Methodist Church,” a church he lumps in with “Socialists, Communists and Marxists”:

“In short, if you hate America, you have a great future in the Methodist church.”

So says one of the “patriots” of a Tea Party movement whose supporters claim to be “taking back our country.” The closer one looks at the Tea Party movement, the clearer it becomes just what kind of country they really want America to be.

Church, State and Tea

October 30, 2010

Tea party activists across the country have been doing a lot of shouting about what they say is government getting involved in things it shouldn’t. But we’ve seen a number of tea party-backed candidates in this year’s elections, such as Senate candidates Christine O’Donnell of Delaware and Sharron Angle of Nevada, who don’t seem to have a problem with government getting involved in religious matters. In fact, they want to mix government and religion. Think Progress provides another example: Ken Buck, the Republican nominee for the Senate from Colorado. Here’s what Buck had to say at a candidate forum last year:

I disagree strongly with the concept of separation of church and state. It was not written into the Constitution. While we have a Constitution that is very strong in the sense that we are not gonna have a religion that’s sanctioned by the government, it doesn’t mean that we need to have a separation between government and religion. And so that, that concerns me a great deal. So I think there are cultural differences, I think there, we are as strong as we, our culture, our culture gives us our strength, I guess is the best way to put that. And, and I am worried about the fact that we seem to be walking away from culture. And, and one thing that President Obama has done that I would certainly speak about is calling the Christmas tree, which has historically been called a Christmas tree in Washington DC, a holiday tree. It’s just flat wrong in my mind.

FactCheck.org debunked the claim about President Obama supposedly preferring a “holiday tree” instead of a “Christmas tree.” In any case, Buck’s argument against separation of church and state exposes the far right’s fraudulent rhetoric about “small government” and “religious liberty.” Mixing government and religion would threaten religious freedom in America, which is why the First Amendment — which the Texas Freedom Network strongly defends — forbids government promotion or interference in religion.

Don’t Eat the Soup! It’s Pro-Muslim!

October 9, 2010

Well, who knew soup could be so dangerous to democracy? At least, that’s what promoters of the growing and increasingly bizarre anti-Muslim hate campaign would seem to think.

This week right-wing blogger Pamela Geller called for a boycott of Campell’s Soup because Campbell’s Canada now sells soup certified as Halal by the Islamic Society of North America. You might remember our earlier report about Geller’s fear that Muslims are trying to “Islamicize” public schools in America. And last November she was the featured guest at a Republican fundraiser in McKinney just north of Dallas. (Members of the so-called “Patriot Host Committee” included Texas lawmakers like state Reps. Jodie Laubenberg of Parker and Ken Paxton of McKinney.)

Other anti-Muslim websites have taken up the anti-Campbell’s boycott cry as well. Even the Tea Party folks are promoting the hysteria:

“Campbell’s now making Muslim approved soups. Mmmmm Mmmmm not good. No more campbells for me.”

So how long will be it before members of the Texas State Board of Education appoint a fanatic like Geller to an “expert” review panel helping decide what kids learn in public schools?

David Barton and the Tea Party

July 27, 2010

David Barton, the Texas-based WallBuilders pooh-bah who thinks government should promote his personal religious beliefs, has published an essay praising the “tea party” movement. No doubt, tea partiers include people from various walks of life who have what they consider perfectly reasonable concerns about government. Unfortunately, the tea party movement has also drawn some of its loudest voices from the extreme political fringes. But Barton pretends the tea party is just a big group of patriotic folks:

“The Tea Parties represent much of what is right in America – citizens reacquainting themselves with the Constitution and holding their elected officials accountable to its standards.”

Well, maybe. But Barton should acknowledge — and work to counter — the ideological extremism that continues to infect the tea party movement. Or does he think these examples of tea party extremism also “represent what is right in America”?

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Tea Partiers, Muslims and Odessa

June 16, 2010

An odd mix, yes? Let’s bring you up to speed.

According to its website, Harmony Public Schools operates 25 K-12 college preparatory charter schools, with more than 12,000 students in all, that focus on math, science, engineering and computer technologies. These schools have received substantial praise for student achievement from the Texas Education Agency, recognition by former President George W. Bush and numerous other Republican elected officials, and major funding from mainstream foundations, including the Dell and Gates Foundations.

Nevertheless, a newly formed group called West Texas Patriots is questioning the opening of a new Harmony Science Academy in Odessa this fall. The group’s members claim that the schools have ties to radical Islam, noting links between the foundation that funds the schools and Fethullah Gulen, a Turkish Muslim and intellectual (who actually lives in northeastern Pennsylvania). Gulen appears to be a controversial figure (to some people, anyway), but there doesn’t seem to be sufficient evidence to support the charge that he is an “Islamic extremist.”

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How Far to the Right Is the Tea Party?

June 4, 2010

As we have suggested in numerous posts about the Tea Party movement, hardcore Tea Partiers in Texas appear increasingly linked to the religious right. A new survey from the University of Washington’s Institute for the Study of Ethnicity, Race & Sexuality also shows that hardcore Tea Partiers in Washington state — identified in the survey as “true believers” who strongly approve of the Tea Party — are significantly more conservative than voters generally. And it’s not that they are more conservative just on issues such as opposing taxes and “big government.” The survey shows that Tea Partiers are just fine with intrusive government so long as government is doing what they want.

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Breathing Fire in Tyler

April 27, 2010

Political fire-breathing was center stage at “The Oil Palace” on Saturday in Tyler, the only Texas stop on FOX News show host Glenn Beck‘s traveling road show, his “Take America Back” tour. The event showed once again how religious-right rhetoric increasingly dominates the so-called “tea party movement.” Beck and various Texas politicians provided plenty of that rhetoric.

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Talking Points

February 25, 2010

From today’s TFN News Clips:

“Rosa Parks did not move to the front of the bus to support sodomy.”

— Barb Davis White, a Tea Party activist and Republican candidate for Minnesota’s 5th Congressional District, testifying before a legislative committee contemplating the legalization of same-sex marriage in the state

Stay informed with TFN News Clips, a daily digest of news about politics and the religious right. Subscribe here.

Barton: Garbage in, Garbage out

February 19, 2010

The Texas Tea Party provides another good example of how David Barton’s poor scholarship (if you can call it scholarship) isn’t just bad for public education – it also fosters falsehoods and distortions throughout our civic life.

One of the links on the Tea Party Web site asks: “What of our Christian Heritage?” Visitors then go to a page that lists a half-dozen quotes attributed to the Founders, each quote suggesting that America’s Founders wanted to create a Christian nation.

One problem, of course, is that the Tea Party is cherry-picking and taking out of context quotations favorable to their point of view. Even worse, however, is that some of the statements the Tea Partiers attribute to the Founders appear to be fraudulent. In fact, two are among a long list of quotes that Barton has used in the past (supporting his “Christian nation” argument) even though he admits that neither he nor real historians can point to evidence that the Founders ever said them.

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Using Extremism to Build a Movement

February 11, 2010

“After I spent the weekend at the Tea Party National Convention in Nashville, Tenn., it has become clear to me that the movement is dominated by people whose vision of the government is conspiratorial and dangerously detached from reality. It’s more John Birch than John Adams. . . .  Within a few hours in Nashville, I could tell that what I was hearing wasn’t just random rhetorical mortar fire being launched at Obama and his political allies: the salvos followed the established script of New World Order conspiracy theories, which have suffused the dubious right-wing fringes of American politics since the days of the John Birch Society.”

So writes Jonathan Kay, the conservative managing editor for comment at the National Post in Canada and author of an upcoming book, Among the Truthers: 9/11 Conspiracy Theories and the People Who Believe Them. Writing for Newsweek, Kay reports that last week’s Tea Party convention in Nashville also included a heavy strain of religious-right nuttiness interwoven with political paranoia:

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