As the tea party celebrates its fifth birthday this month, Ian Haney López, author of Dog Whistle Politics, talks to Bill about how the movement has used strategic racism to get voters to the polls.
The fears that animate the tea party at the grassroots, Haney López says, are racial narratives that blame minorities for what’s going wrong in America.
When you look at what animates the tea party, there are several different hatreds that are core to the tea party. They hate welfare. Especially, or particularly welfare that’s understood as going to minorities. Not social security, for instance, but rather food stamps. Next, they’re obsessed about Muslims and Islam. And they really see this sort of threatening, this external threat in the form of the Middle East, but also ostensibly an internal threat of Muslims coming into the United States … They’re deeply concerned about undocumented immigrants, especially undocumented immigrants from Mexico. Finally, they hate President Obama. And Obama seems to combine both this sense of welfare, of being a Muslim, of being a brown foreign other, right?