Tea Parties Lose Mainstream Support, Open Way for Radical Fringe
On July 4, 2009, protest tea parties were organized across the United States for Independence Day, with noticeably less mainstream support and a higher degree of radical, fringe leadership coming to the forefront.
The recent tea party phenomenon began on April 15, 2009, organized by rightwing grassroots activists to protest higher taxes, government spending, and the Obama administration. Though initially supported by moderate Republican politicians for the civilian bonus points, some have noted that mainstream enthusiasm for and media coverage of the movement waned over the Fourth of July weekend, leaving room for louder, radical, rightwing fringe activists to step in and take over.
[T]he collaboration between the official Republican establishment and the Tea Parties has not lasted into June. The RNC has no plans to get involved with any Tea Parties. A spokesman for Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio), who jaunted around northern California to attend several Tea Parties, said that his holiday plans were private but would probably not include Tea Parties. [Newt] Gingrich will not attend any of the Tea Parties, although he recorded video messages for events in Birmingham and Nashville “at the request of the respective organizers.”
Before the weekend, the Anti-Defamation League, which monitors extremist groups in the United States, issued a statement saying that white supremacists, neo-Nazis, anti-Semites, and other racist groups would attempt to use the Fourth of July tea parties to spread racism and similar forms of discrimination.
On Stormfront, the most popular white supremacist Internet forum, members have discussed becoming local organizers of the "Tea Parties" and finding ways to involve themselves in the events. Many racists have voiced their intent to attend these rallies for the purpose of cultivating an "organized grassroots White mass movement," with some suggesting that they would do so without openly identifying themselves as racists.
This appears to be the latest in a series of disturbing indicators that far rightwing extremism is becoming more prevalent and prominent in the United States. Recent examples include the Holocaust museum shooting by white supremacist James von Brunn and the murder of alleged drug trafficker Raul J. Flores by Shawna Forde, leader of the extremist anti-immigrant vigilante group Minutemen America Defense.
The increasing emergence of rightwing extremism was highlighted in a 2009 report by the US Department of Homeland Security: Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment.