Tea Party Nation continues transition to ethnic identity group

Yeah, who is the President of the United States, really? So little is known about him.

If you don’t already subscribe to the Tea Party Nation newsletter, you are missing some great stuff. The TPN is only one of several groups that claim to be the national Tea Party organization—it’s unclear yet whether they’re the Bolsheviks or the Mensheviks, so to speak—but they are the canary in the dark, radon-filled mine that is America’s conservative subconscious. First of all, sorry for cramming three metaphors into one sentence. Second, TPN’s most recent screed, entitled The Horrors of Illegal Immigration, is short and spooky enough to quote at length. Check it after the jump.

The drum beat for Amnesty is here.  The Obama Regime and the drive-by media are pushing Amnesty with stories about illegals who are just here “to make a better life” for themselves.  The media is ignoring stories of the horrors if illegal immigration.  At TPN, we want to highlight some of these stories.  We need your help.

We have set up a forum for stories of illegal immigration.  If have [sic] been the victim of a crime by an illegal, or if your business has gone under because your competition uses illegals, or if you have lost your job to illegals, we want to know about it.  If you have photos and videos of illegals or their supporters doing outrageous things (like burning the American flag or putting the Mexican flag above ours, or showing racist posters), please share those as well.

We need to get the true story out about illegal immigration and we need your help to do it


Of the phrases that this email attempts to coin, I suspect that “Obama Regime” is going to circulate better than “drive-by media.” One thing that can be conclusively said about the contemporary media is that it does not appear briefly and then vanishes from our lives in the manner of a drive-by. Besides an approach to meme production that is more enthusiastic than crafty, this email gives us two insights into whatever is going on over at Tea Party Nation.

First, they seem to be drifting with the current of vaguely ethnic nationalism that is sweeping through mainstream Tea Party rhetoric. What started as a tax protest and moved into a nostalgic Constitutional fundamentalism has become more and more interested in identity lately, with a corresponding uptick in “take our country back” and other subtly exclusionary catchphrases.

The Tea Party is demographically white. Increasingly, they seem to be ideologically white, too. There has always been a subtext of white identity in the birther and anti-Muslim fringes of the movement, but the recent focus on anti-immigrant positions—which, when you think about it, doesn’t necessarily follow from the rest of their libertarian and strict constructionist ethos—seems more openly racist. If you suspect that I’m exaggerating the trend, as I did before I checked out the TPN website this morning, I would like to point out that they just announced Lou Dobbs as the headline speaker for their national convention.

Second, this short email nicely summarizes one type of bad thinking. Having decided that illegal immigration is a “horror,” TPN now asks for evidence. Surely they reached their position on immigration from some concatenation of lived experience,* but to all outward indications they’re starting with the conclusion and going from there. Besides inviting a series of Photoshop falsifications with their call for pictures of Mexicans burning the American flag, TPN is basically reversing what ought to be the American process of public deliberation.

I’d be open to the argument that that’s what’s wrong with contemporary discourse. Besides a disappointing reliance on anecdotal evidence, the tendency to decide and then pick from the available materials to construct a compelling argument is not a good way to figure out what to do. It’s a fine way to convince people of your position, but that’s not what the marketplace of ideas is supposed to accomplish.

Immigration is a serious issue/problem, and it could easily have an existential impact on the future of this country. If you believe that America is a fundamentally white nation, the way forward is fairly clear: there should be fewer not-white people. If you believe the answer is probably more nuanced than that—like the answers to looming deficits, the war on terror, health care and any number of other problems—sponsoring a scary picture contest is probably not the way to deduce it. We have participatory politics for a reason, and it’s not to more efficiently gather backup for our arbitrary positions.

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  1. “… or showing racist posters” is a funny suggestion, especially considering the Go Back to Kenya poster in the background of your posts picture today. Could they just use that one, or any of the hundred others found nearby?

  2. I realize this is more just a general comment on immigration. But here’s the way I see it. The problem with an influx of large numbers of unregulated peoples of the Mexican culture, is that their particular lifestyle undermines that of our working class by just being more efficient and less luxurious. The thing is though, that the working class of this country has a long and hard fought history to pull themselves out of a similar minimalist way of life. In other words, Americans don’t want to slaughter goats in the backyard and fit 10 people in a house. But if the trend continues, then at a certain point they will have to in order to compete, and all the while our economic overlords will just be getting richer.

    It will become a problem unless illegal immigration is gotten under control. The natural cycle will proliferate businesses that make use of hardworking, paid-under-the-table immigrants, and those businesses that refuse will tend to go out of business.

    So to tie all this back into the article, a distaste for illegal immigration can be motivated by our differences in culture and lifestyle without necessarily being racist.

  3. captain makes a good and interesting point. The best evidence of that thesis is, I think, GW Bush’s refusal to do anything about immigration. Now, looking back on his 8 years of cartoonish super-villainy, it’s sort of quaint that he left the immigrants (read: non-Muslims) alone. Of course, its obvious why and captain nails it: illegal, undemanding workers increase profits for businesses. Studying the moves of GW Bush is like a masters course in cynicism.

  4. That’s a good point, Captain, and I think one of the best non-racial points to be made about the problem of illegal immigration. Historically, labor unions have been among the biggest opponents of immigration, legal or otherwise, because it has the potential to undermine the numerical strength that is one of a union’s few bargaining chips. You can’t hold out for higher wages when there are ten guys behind you willing to do the job for less.

    That being said, demographic studies of Tea Partiers indicate that they tend to be slightly above the national average in income and education, which means that they’re not usually the people who compete with illegal immigrants for jobs. Definitely, there are working-class Tea Partiers, but it strikes me as more a movement of the middle class. And finding a black or hispanic person among them is like looking for a racquetball in a snowstorm. I’m suspicious, is what I’m saying, but you raise a very good argument that I failed to take into account.

    Pete, let’s not forget another reason for W’s disinterest in the immigration problem: votes. He was one of the first Republican gubernatorial candidates in Texas to embrace the Mexican-American population, and it paid off. Evangelicals are also increasingly pro-immigration, because of the large number of latino pentecostals. Those aren’t exactly admirable reasons, but at least they contributed to one of the few things Bush didn’t make me insane about.

  5. True, Dan. Vote-toadying on racial grounds is in part two of the GWB cynicism course. My brain typically goes into a fugue state of outrage as soon as thoughts of him enter my brain, so I rarely get to the second horribly cynical reason he did whatever shit is being discussed

  6. Yea, I’m sure there are a combination of both types in the tea party. Between a lot of absurdly patriotic overtones and somewhat dehumanizing undertones (the way it just refers to them as “illegals”), not to mention the straw man propped up in the corner (please let us know all crimes committed against you by illegals so we can spread the word they are here only to rob and murder us all), the email quoted above does mention the same thing I did in a way.

  7. wassup, im really digging your post but i cant click on the other links. You might wanna make sure your site works in opera cuz you know that browser is prone to errors sometimes.

  8. Why is it a surprise to anyone that this lowsy president of ours would support the building of a structure of death. Obama has done absolutely nothing for this country except make it worse.He is just another BS’er politician

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