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.
For decades, the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) has been a barometer of the different political tendencies inside the right-wing. In the 1980s, Reagan administration officials and Reaganite New Rightists dominated the podium. Pres. Reagan spoke at CPAC in both 1984 and 1988. In the 1990s, culture warriors like Pat Buchanan and the Rev. Pat Robertson joined Republican regulars such as Sens. Bob Dole and Phil Gramm. At this years’ CPAC13, Tea Party leaders and Tea Party-supported politicians will dominate the proceedings. The result is an agenda filled with bigots, conspiracy mongers, and publicity hounds.
Believe it or not, the so-called birthers are back. As if the post Citizens United world of campaign finance wasn't sketchy enough, along comes a new super PAC created specifically to regurgitate racist conspiracy theories claiming President Obama is not a natural-born American, and thereby supposedly barred from holding the presidency.
The group has already started running ads.
His YouTube channel has over 30 million views and over 200,000 subscribers. He's had cameo appearances in two Hollywood films. Yet he's hardly a household name. Nonetheless, over the last fifteen years, Austin, Texas-based radio talk-show host Alex Jones has made a career pumping out bigotry and conspiracies for profit.
Jones has also defended the same Tea Party movement whose leaders are attacking the Occupy movement today. He has indulged in vicious racist anti-immigrant rhetoric, promoted anti-Semitic con artists, defended Holocaust deniers, and attacked civil rights leaders. He is an equal opportunity bigot.
What Does CNN have to say?
Just over a week after the IREHR Special Report Tea Party Nationalism first exposed many of the so-called “birthers” in the leadership of the different national factions, Tea Party Nation (TPN) founder Judson Phillips decided to openly join that growing list yesterday.
Rather than join those who claim the President Obama is not a natural-born American, Phillips promoted his peculiar theory as to why he thinks that President Obama is ineligible to hold the office. Phillips brand of “birtherism” weaves another layer of xenophobia into this already racially-charged discourse on citizenship.
In an article on the TPN website entitled, “The Birth Certificate of Barack Obama,” Phillips writes, “Is Obama really an American citizen, as all of the folks hitting the eligibility question ask? By birth, probably, but there is a curve ball. As a child, his mother married Lolo Soetoro, an Indonesian, who then adopted Obama and they moved to Indonesia. The law in effect at the time stated that if an American child was adopted by a citizen of another country and moved to that country, the child lost its American citizenship. The child could regain its citizenship by applying to an American Embassy at age 18 but would only be treated as a naturalized citizen.”
Phillips explained that he hoped that there would be a court ruling that would find Obama ineligible to be President. Nevertheless, he wanted that ruling to occur after 2013, because he wants Obama in the 2012 presidential race. Phillips argued that keeping President Obama in office “will all but guarantee a Republican win in 2012.”
Although Phillips had been coy about the topic until now, his public embrace of the birther position should come as no surprise. As IREHR reported in February, at the Tea Party Nation Convention in Nashville, Phillips introduced Joseph Farah, of the far right website WorldNetDaily.com, as the Friday evening keynote speaker. Farah spent much of his speech cooking up a Biblical basis for his obsession with Obama’s birth certificate.
Phillips joins TPN marketing director Pam Farnsworth in publicly embracing the birther position. Other birthers in prominent national Tea Party leadership roles include Amy Kremer (Tea Party Patriots, later Tea Party Express), Mark Williams (Tea Party Express), and Darla Dawald (ResistNet).
For more on the Tea Parties and the Birthers, see "'Who is An American?': Tea Parties, Nativism and the Birthers" in Tea Party Nationalism.
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.”