David Weigel at the Washington Independent dug up this photo of Dale Robertson, who heads up the would-be national Tea Party website TeaParty.org, with the sign he was carrying at the February 27, 2009 Tea Party in Houston.
According to Weigel, Robertson was eventually kicked out of the event for carrying the sign. But as with most right-wing populist movements, the most extreme elements are very determined to shape the movement in their direction, and will inevitably find ways to float to the top. Especially when the supposed mainstream "just folks" who populate much of the movement turn a willing blind eye to the extremists who increasingly are leading them.
As Weigel notes, Robertson has arranged a series of "Liberty Concerts" to help promote the Tea Party movement. An e-mail sent out to subscribers to news from ResistNet -- one of the major clearinghouses of Tea Party activist information -- described Robertson's plans:
Robertson is molding the Tea Party events to empower Citizens so they will make a difference in the November 2010 elections. The ongoing tactics are to prioritize States, creating a durable model for ballot access, voter eligibility, precinct chair/county chairs, and candidate awareness. The Tea Party is actively seeking candidates that represent Conservative Constitutional Values. It appears the Major Parties can’t get in step with such a complex idea as Conservative Constitutional Values; therefore, the Tea Party will make it easy for the Independent Parties to break the glass ceiling and get on the ballot.
The ‘Liberty Concerts’ event taking place in Stafford, Texas is a developing prototype, which when successful, will allow the Tea Party to create a thriving event not in months but days. We will be quick on the draw, sure fired and ready to rock in a matter of only a few days. This Tea Party formula will work against incredible odds and will be nothing short of a miracle, but Robertson believes with all his heart all the pieces will fall into place.
Does the Tea Party really believe it can make a difference in November? “Some say, “talk is cheap” but 2 years ago when I started the modern day Tea Party no one believed it could work now 7 million strong, the world is listening and America is hoping, we will not fail.” Dale Robertson – TeaParty.org
As Tars Tarkas notes, the folks at ResistNet put out a disclaimer of sorts:
This is in response to the blast mail you received regarding the Liberty Concert being promoted by the National Tea Party group. The purpose of the email was to share an opportunity for you to experience the fellowship and company of other conservatives, as we kick off the election season and strive to take back America, restoring it to the Constitutional Republic it is meant to be. While they are a separate group from us, we share many of the same goals, a free, conservative America, and fiscal responsibility within our government. We are not necessarily promoting their complete ideology.
It's hard to say why ResistNet is even bothering to distance itself; it is, after all, a site riddled throughout with extremists of various stripes, as suggested by its reference to "the Constitutional Republic" in its disclaimer. After all, this is a site that hosts a copy of Louis Beam's essay, "Leaderless Resistance," which was nothing less than the basic blueprint for forming cells of "citizen militias" and "lone wolf" domestic terrorists as the blueprint for action of the white-nationalist far right. Beam, you may recall, was a leader in the Aryan Nations.
This is a movement that is not only riddled throughout with far-right extremists, but is increasingly being led by them. And no doubt they'll keep producing reminders of that for us.