Tea Party Groups Battle Accusations Of Racism

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Poor tea partiers! All they’re trying to do is rally and show their support for smaller government, and the mean old liberals keep saying they’re racist. Now where would anybody get a crazy idea like that? – NewsOne Staff

From the Washington Post:

As several states with active “tea party” groups prepare to hold important primary elections this month, the movement is struggling to overcome accusations of racism that are tinting perceptions of this loose network of conservatives.

“We don’t want the worst elements to take this over,” said Brendan Steinhauser, campaign director for FreedomWorks, a national group that helps coordinate tea party activists. “If they do, the tea party loses independents, it loses moderates, it loses people who don’t tolerate this. Being a racist is one of the worst things you can be in this society. No one wants to be labeled this.”

The challenge is made tougher by one of the defining elements of the tea party movement: No one person controls it. There is no national communications strategy. And incidents of racist slogans and derisive depictions of President Obama continue to crop up, providing fuel for critics who say the president’s skin color is a powerful reason behind the movement’s existence.

In a new Washington Post-ABC News poll, most Americans see the movement as motivated by distrust of government, opposition to the policies of Obama and the Democratic Party, and broad concern about the economy. But nearly three in 10 see racial prejudice as underlying the tea party.

Supporters and opponents alike say the movement draws its strength from opposition to Obama’s policies, but they split deeply on the race question, according to the poll: About 61 percent of tea party opponents say racism has a lot to do with the movement, a view held by just 7 percent of tea party supporters.

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