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On May 9, Erica Ritz wrote a story entitled “’The Longer You Are in the Tea Party, the More Racist You Become’: What Educators Learned at Alarming ‘White Privilege’ Conference.”  The story ran on Glenn Beck’s television station, The Blaze, on a program entitled “Dana.” Dana refers to Dana Loesch, a Tea Party activist formerly from St. Louis.  The show and the story attacked participants at an academic conference on “White Privilege,” including this author.

The video clips used on the program originated from a far-right website called Progressives Today (, which uses James O’Keefe-style undercover videos (often taken out of context) to discredit efforts for racial and social justice.   This website produced four longer videos on the White Privilege conference.  Progressives Today, is a collaboration of Jim Hoff, the founder of the St. Louis-based Tea Party website, The Gateway Pundit, and Kyle Olsen, founder of the Michigan-based anti-public education group, Education Action Group Foundation, Inc. (  The Gateway Pundit has now joined the attacks on the White Privilege Conference, amplifying the issue among Tea Partiers. Given Dana Loesch’s long-standing relationship with the group, it’s not surprising to see the issue appear on The Blaze.

Loesch noted, in a tone of OhMyGosh abhorrence, my co-authorship of a 2010 report on racists in the Tea Party movement, released in conjunction with the NAACP.  In the same manner, Dana was horrified that I had actually said, “the longer you are in the Tea Party, the more racist you become.”

I admit it.  I was one of the authors who wrote that groundbreaking 2010 report on the Tea Party movement.  We were honored that the NAACP saw fit to release this document, which did not argue that all Tea Partiers were racist.  It argued that some of them were.  There is more evidence today that the Tea Party movement itself is a racist movement. 

Among the pieces of evidence that changed my mind is an article published on a peer-reviewed, online scientific journal known as PLOS ONE, Race, Ideology, and the Tea Party: A Longitudinal Study.”  The authors came from New York University, Stanford University, and the University of Pennsylvania.  Among their findings was that the longer one stayed in the Tea Parties, the shorter became their commitment to libertarianism, and the more fully did they become social conservative.  Also: “Identification with the Tea Party was positively associated with anti-Black prejudice.”  Further: “Anti-Black sentiment was associated with Tea Party identification across time points.” There is more interesting information in this article, but to cut to the quick it meant that the longer you stayed in the Tea Party movement the more racist you became.

Now Dana Loesch, Glenn Beck and the secrets agents over at Gateway Pundit can scoff, moan and attack higher education.  But they cannot change these simple facts.  Indeed, simple facts are often missing with Glenn Beck’s various enterprises.  He promoted the pre-World War Two anti-Semitic writer Elizabeth Dilling, as if she wrote the truth about the real order of things.  When the Anti-Defamation League criticized some of Beck’s remarks as “bigoted ignorance,” Beck was forced to agree.  Jewish Funds for Justice said he “drew his material straight from the anti-Semitic forgery, the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.” Historian Sean Wilentz describes Beck’s mutterings as “gross historical inaccuracies.”

The list of Beck’s critics is long.  One thing he and The Blaze and Dana Loesch should not try and do is engage academics on the nature of truth, because the simply miss it so often.

Along those lines, it should be noted that the “White Privilege” conference organizers, in addition to the muck on television have also received more than their fair share of a continuous stream of hate mail.  One email, sent on February 25 by someone calling themselves “Edi Kui,” contains the usual racist rants, complete with multiple uses of the n-word.  Edi Kui also signs off “18/88,” 88 being the numeric value for the letters HH; or “Heil Hitler.”  So among the multiple cowards who attack solid scholarship, count a want to-be neo-Nazi.  Nice ally for you to have Mr. Beck.



Leonard Zeskind

Author Leonard Zeskind

is founder of IREHR. For almost four decades, he has been a leading authority on white nationalist political and social movements. He is the author of Blood and Politics: The History of White Nationalism from the Margins to the Mainstream, published by Farrar Straus & Giroux in May 2009. [more..]

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