The fourth annual South Carolina Tea Party Coalition Convention warred on the Constitution, and resurrected the patently false notions that President Obama is not a natural born American. Held at the Springmaid Beach Resort in Myrtle Beach on January 17-19, the event also displayed an abundant supply of Christian nationalism, racism, anti-immigrant bigotry and Islamophobia. It also drew more than its fair share of Republican politicians. More than a gateway to the 2016 presidential primaries, however, the convention served as a preview of Tea Party activism of the future—warts and all.
Following the attacks in France, including the murders at the French magazine, Charlie Hebdo, and a Jewish market, large Islamophobic rallies have taken place across Germany. One of the rallies' lead organizers resigned today as a head of an Islamophobic group after a newspaper published a selfie of him posing as Adolf Hitler.
For years, white nationalists found themselves on the outside looking in, faces pressed against the glass to get a glimpse at the movement happenings at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). But the times they are a changing. Not since Pat Buchanan’s racially-tinged insurgent campaign at the 1992 conference have white nationalists found a more hospitable environment in the halls of CPAC.
With the rise of the Tea Party, the doors to CPAC flew open wide in 2010. The same year that CPAC gave the “Ronald Reagan Award” to the Tea Party movement, the far-right John Birch Society, a group kept outside for decades, was allowed to co-sponsor the event for the first time. Others on the far-right were welcomed into the fold, and racist rhetoric about president Obama was allowed center stage. Just like that, CPAC became a white nationalist friendly zone.
Despite a more tightly controlled platform this year, the annual conservative confab did little to disabuse white nationalists of the notion that they were at home, particularly when leaders expressed racially-charged rhetoric and calls for nativist “death squads” were met with raucous cheers from the floor.
On June 19, federal prosecutors charged a Tea Party Klansman and his cohort in a plot so bizarre it could've been ripped from the pages of a comic book. The two upstate New York men were arrested on terrorism charges for trying to build a mobile death ray to kill Muslims.
The senseless murder and mayhem in Boston has left me speechless. Initially, I refused to speculate about who did it, despite repeated requests to do so. I pointed to the wildly mistaken guesses about the Texas murders, when people who should have known better talked as if the Aryan Brotherhood were the perpetrators, sure thing. It turned out to be anything but. In this case, as a friend wrote me, “Chechens, who knew?” I certainly did not.
ProEnglish executive director Robert Vandervoort’s inclusion on two panels was apparently not a matter of controversy inside the recently concluded Conservative Political Action Conference. Not one word questioning his participation was uttered publicly by any of his co-panelists, and one and all treated him with respect. Indeed, all of his co-panelists, including Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach and Florida Representative David Rivera were glad to shake his hand.
Outside the conference was a different matter, however. After IREHR raised concerns because of Vandervoort’s white nationalist attachments, a significant discussion ensued. It was often coupled with an intersecting debate about the appearance of Peter Brimelow, after People for the American Way noted the author’s white nationalism. The Kansas City Star, the Wichita Eagle and Mother Jones were among the publications to take note of these events. American Spectator, a decidedly conservative periodical weighed in with the comment that “if Vandervoort indeed organized events for an American Renaissance affiliate … he should explicitly and publicly renounce his old associates; that is a crowd that no one should touch with a ten foot pole.”
In the interest of answering these questions raised by American Spectator, among others, IREHR provides the following information about Vandervoort’s relationship to American Renaissance as well as his own re-articulation of white nationalist dogma.
The British newspaper The Guardian has done a remarkable service by examining the online trail of bigotry left by Anders Breivik, the white nationalist who murdered 77 innocents in two different killings sprees in Norway last July.
They provide links to Beivik's 1500-page manifesto as well as to those pages that the killer himself linked to. This web page spider web weaves together European far-right groups, American Islamophobic "counter-Jihad" sites, as well as more mainstream sources.
According to Andrew Brown, the journalist for The Guardian who wrote the introduction to the visualization, "Anders Breivik's manifesto reveals a subculture of nationalistic and Islamophobic websites that link the European and American far right in a paranoid alliance against Islam and is also rooted in some democratically elected parties."
The Revolutionary War-era costumes, the yellow “Don’t tread on me” Gadsden flags from the same era, the earnest recitals of the pledge of allegiance, the over-stated veneration of the Constitution, and the defense of “American exceptionalism” in a world turned towards transnational economies and global institutions: all are signs of the over-arching nationalism that helps define the Tea Party movement.
It is a form of American nationalism, however, that does not include all Americans, and separates itself from those it regards as insufficiently “real Americans.” Consider in this regard, a recent Tea Party Nation Newsletter article entitled, “Real Americans Did Not Sue Arizona.” Or the hand-drawn sign at a Tea Party rally that was obviously earnestly felt. “I am a arrogant American, unlike our President, I am proud of my country, our freedom, our generosity, no apology from me.”