Veronica Hendrix

*Drinking tea is as American as baseball, apple pie, and jazz (yes I said jazz).  I love High Tea and the eclectic assortment of teas and those cute little crustless sandwiches that are served.

My favorite these days is pomegranate green tea.  Although High Tea is very English, it has become part of American culture. Besides, any event that encourages women to wear glorious and stately hats is pure Americana, and yes African Americana.

But the recent tea party movement (and notice I didn’t capitalized it because in my mind it’s not a proper noun) doesn’t feel American. The rancor against the government continues to be stained with racism despite the fact that tea party organizers decried it and retort there is no place for racist behavior in their organization.

The tea party movement is more than a blip on the screen. They tout some 1,800 local affiliates and 15 million members. If you do a search on the internet, there are pages and pages of references.

They say they want to take back America …take it back to what and where? American has moved forward on so many levels with  the election of the first African American President, the dismantling of don’t ask don’t tell, the new signs of life in the economy, referendum on the corporate greed and bonuses,  and sweeping health care reform, just to mention a few

Their core values are fiscal responsibility, constitutionally limited government, and free markets. These are not tea party values; I would argue they are American values. I would also argue that at this point in history our government is doing everything it can to reign in this economy and has created an infrastructure to meet the needs of   the national’s current crisis. The only rights it has infringed upon when it come to free markets are those corporations that have a need for greed.

Look, our economy was hemorrhaging from the collapse of the real estate market and corporate greed.  Invasive measures were taken by the Bush Administration to stop the bleeding which didn’t stop when the clock struck midnight on January 1, 2009. And the Obama administration has kept the tourniquet in place and applied more pressure because the bleeding still hasn’t stopped.  Given the state of our union, I believe that our government is taking the lead to fix the problems that plague us using every resource available. That’s what responsible governments do. The decisions from the top are not popular but then again I remember the decisions my parents made that weren’t popular with me and they would always tell me they weren’t trying to win a popularity contest, they were trying to do what was  right for me based on what they knew. Perhaps that is the juncture our government is at.

None the less the “tea party patriots” are spinning like a cyclone. The likes of Palin, Beck, Limbaugh, Hannity are their heroes, their beacons of righteousness and light. But their rhetoric seems to fan the flames of the bigots as much if not more than it stirs the discontent of the conservative base.

The question is why? Why are the fringe elements drawn to the tea party like a moth to a flame? Well a recent survey by the University of Washington Institute for the Study of Ethnicity, Race & Sexuality sheds some light on the burning question.

According to Professor Christopher Parker who directed the study, the findings suggest that the tea party movement is not solely about politics or about reigning in big government. Tea party supporters “appear predisposed to intolerance.” He also said that the data from the study suggests tea party supporters have a higher probability of being racially resentful than those who are not Tea Party supporters.” The multi-state survey was conducted a year after President Obama was inaugurated.

The survey also revealed that 45% of whites either strongly or somewhat approve of the movement.  And of those who agree with the movement, only 35% believe Blacks to be hardworking, only 45 % believe Blacks are intelligent and only 41% think that Blacks are trustworthy, according to the study. While the researchers say the study suggests these findings, it’s pretty conclusive to me. So, no tea for me please.

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