Ryan Grim and Luke Johnson did a great qualitative analysis of the Tea Party. What makes this piece different from the masses of stories of Tea Party Racism is that they viewed it from the angle of what actual racists thought of the Tea Party.
Now, it’s journalism so it’s inherently unscientific, but it does lay the foundation for serious ethnographic work.
The conclusion, based on an analysis of online chat rooms filled with self-identified members of the KKK and other hate groups, is that if the Tea Party would give up their pro-Israel stance, they would be racist enough to join the KKK and be accepted with open arms. That may be tough for the Tea Party to do however, considering how much they hate Muslims more.
I’m not a critical race theorist, but I do know that hate groups are (most of the time) based on what I call “self-centered fear”. I define self-centered fear as being afraid of not getting something you want, or being afraid of losing something you already have. That’s certainly the case for the Tea Party, be it the “Kenyan Muslim” coming to take away the health care that they don’t have, or their guns. Hate groups have always had an economic “tinge” to them, and there’s no denying that the economies of the south and midwest, where the Tea Party flourishes have been pretty devastated for a long time. That’s no excuse, but it sheds light on things a little.
What makes this a little more surreal is that the Tea Party declares that they are not racist, while engaging in racist activities, and even (almost) being good enough to be accepted by the KKK. When a spade is calling you a spade, then you’re probably a spade.