Rep. Alan Grayson Compares Tea Party to Ku Klux Klan

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October 22, 2013; Politico


Lots of people call their opponents kooks, crazies, reactionaries, Nazis, commies, and more. But in Florida, Democratic representative Alan Grayson is raising money with a fundraising appeal that suggests that the Tea Party is like the Ku Klux Klan. His email shows a burning cross as the “T” in Tea Party.

The text of the fundraiser is from an interview of Grayson conducted by Rev. Al Sharpton. The Grayson fundraising email describes the American public as “appalled” by the Tea Party and desirous of “the Tea Party out of their lives.” It declares the Tea Party as “no more popular than the Klan.” The email appears to conclude with this statement:

“They simply want to bring about the End of Days, as quickly as possible. That is the ultimate Tea Party Republican desire, to bring about the End of Days. The Republican Party has become the largest suicide pact in history. And I hope they don’t take us with them.”

It’s not the first time that Grayson has laid out the Tea Party. On his campaign website, there is a link to these comments he gave in an interview with Salon. Talking about the shutdown, Grayson said, “The Tea Party emperor has no clothes—that they never should have, or could have, forced their idiocy on the other house of Congress, or the other branches of government. That their blackmail and extortion and coercion has been recognized for exactly what it is. It’s never made any sort of sense or had any moral strength to say to America, as they’ve said, ‘If you don’t let us steal your car, we will burn down your house.’ They tried to steal the car, which was Obamacare, under threat of burning down the house, which is the U.S. economy…. This will prove, once and for all, beyond any doubt, that the Tea Party and the Republican Party are agents of chaos. And they are completely unsuited to participating in government.”

Defending his fundraising email’s description of the Tea Party after criticism from Republicans, Grayson went further in a statement: “Regarding the image that the campaign circulated, members of the Tea Party have engaged in relentless racist attacks against our African-American president. For example, when the president visited my home of Orlando, Tea Party protesters shouted ‘Kenyan Go Home.’ Other examples include Tea Party chants of ‘Bye Bye Blackbird’ and Tea Party posters saying ‘Obama’s plan: White Slavery.’” The Grayson statement also said: “Tea Party members have circulated countless altered pictures depicting President Obama and the First Lady as monkeys. Tea Party members also called my fellow member of Congress, civil rights hero John Lewis, a ‘n***ger,’ and Rep. Barney Frank a ‘faggot’…. One could go on and on, because there is overwhelming evidence that the Tea Party is the home of bigotry and discrimination in America today, just as the KKK was for an earlier generation. If the shoe fits, wear it.” (Other sources have said that the last line in the Grayson statement was, “If the hood fits, wear it.”)

This is tough stuff for the Tea Party crowd, some of them registered as 501(c)(4) organizations, and their supporters, such as FreedomWorks and the National Republican Congressional Committee, which demanded apologies.

This is one for our readers: What do you think of Grayson’s calling out the Tea Party as the KKK for today’s generation? On target, and appropriate for the racial vitriol that has been attributed to Tea Party types? Or inappropriate and polarizing at a time when civil political discourse is sometimes in short supply?—Rick Cohen

  • Michael Wyland

    From The Weekly Standard:

    “[T]his isn’t the first time that Grayson has done reprehensible things. He called a woman a “K Street Whore,” and said Republicans want Americans to “die quickly.” And the Tea Party is often wrongly maligned,” says an RNC spokesman in an email.

  • Jess Kirby

    While I feel it is important that we all know the hateful things some members of the tea party have said, I don’t think we benefit from such broad generalizations and such whimsical dismissal of their ideals. Tea party candidates are elected representatives, elected by a segment of the population who agreed with their stance. I have not been privy to what is said while these reps campaign, but I am sure they did not run entirely on hate and bigotry. They had ideals of a different government, but just because it is not one the politically established would like to envision doesn’t mean these reps, and by extension the voters they represent, should be alienated and pushed aside. Only idea exchange and debate can co-opt this seemingly dangerous force.

    Also, I would note that even though the tea party thought up shutdown, it was the Republican party who went along and helped it happen. Even if most were driven to it by the extremes, they didn’t try and stop it. In my eyes, there is no difference between tea party and Republican if they all vote the same.

  • Candice

    I am offended that this idiot would be allowed to use a time in history to extol his hate of Americans. Why aren’t there more black people pissed?

  • Dennis Bennett

    The Tea Party and the majority of the Republican Party is a party of Greed, Hatred and Delusion. If they could simply stop worrying about what other people might get away with and concentrate on what we are blessed to have and it gets simpler and we become less angry.
    I love watching “tea baggers”, drive on our public roads after spending the morning in our public library, having gotten their medical checkup the morning before paid for with Medicare, to attend a rally in a public park which is kept clean by public servants and attend a rally against paying taxes while being protected by public law enforcement.

    Grayson isn’t the one who’s is reprehensible.

  • T. Limpert

    Grayson’s comparison of the Tea Party to the KKK has a wicked bite and provides a moment or two of emotional balm to those of us tired of listening to their mindless drivel. Will it further polarize the debate? Perhaps, but it is certainly not an example of civil political discourse or a starting point for reasoned debate. It may be a clever way to raise campaign donations.

    If Grayson follows with “OK Tea Party, now that I have your complete attention, let’s talk…” then he might move to more constructive debate territory. But if he reacts to the blowback he’ll be getting from them with even more invective, he’ll be sinking to their level. You can’t win campaigns on “Vote for Grayson! He’s less of an jerk than the Tea Party.”

  • Michael Roberts

    Often the truth hurts.

    The activities that Representative Alan Grayson attributed to the Tea Party and others against President Obama, the First Lady and Representatives John Lewis and Barney Frank DID happen. They were not made up. If those actions are not racist, bigoted and homophobic, then what are? What is sad is that too few people in leadership, high profile positions (government, business, media, education) in this country are willing to publicly denounce such actions. Downplaying or ignoring hateful, racist and discriminatory acts and policies – from wherever the source – is not going to make those practices and the white supremacist ideology that feeds them, go away. To not speak out against such actions for what they are is to enable and encourage such behavior going forward.

    The whole world continues to watch how America performs politically, socially and economically. However, many people, both within and outside this country, do not like what they see and are frankly disgusted, embarrassed and/or just confused. The actions described by Representative Grayson are strong reminders that despite the many advances this country has made in race, ethnicity and gender relations, we are nowhere near where we need to be. We have not arrived at a post-racial anything in this country that can be a model for any other country to follow.

    In fact, attempts are being made, especially at the state level around the nation, to return this country back to the pre-1960s – i.e., voter restriction practices and closing of health centers that serve women. These latest right wing attempts affect people of color, women and the poor. But these actions also bounce back on whites – many whom are poor and female. Who do we think make up the majority of the 47 million Americans defined by our own government as living in poverty? Hint: They are not Black or Latino.

    Racist practices, discrimination and bigotry impact us all. No one is spared. We are all scarred and often defined by the experience. We will begin to address the racial polarization (and other ills) that have existed in this country since its birth when enough people of good will and courage agree to come together to honestly tackle the problem. To ignore and downplay the behaviors discussed here is what is “..inappropriate and polarizing..”.

    The whole world is watching and the truth hurts.

  • Rocco DiMucci

    I heartily commend your “calling out” the often openly prejudice sentiments of many of the Tea Party Patriots
    and “Good Ole Boys” of the GOP. The Don Yelton’s of NC and the republican governor’s that are openly admitting that their
    new voting requirements are aimed at minority voters is a perfect example.
    The hundreds of characterizations of President Obama as a moneky, black sambo, hitler, muslim terrorist are examples of their openly hatred of Obama soley becasue of his race.

    The GOP perpertrated the perfect coup 40 years ago when they convinced the american public that the if your were white and had a job you were “middle class” and that the poor blacks were living off our backs and dragging this country down

    Ironically many of the southern good ole boys here in Florida that blame Obama and the poor blacks are happily receiving public assistance checks, food stamps and free insurance for their children.
    They are proud Tea Party Patriots and fly their Confederate flags with great pride

    You are absolutely correct that if The Hood Fits Wear It

  • Steve

    I absolutely believe the comments are appropriate and necessary. We do live in politically charged times, and the Tea Party is the group most responsible for the vitriol that is now being passed off as information. I would like to see members of the Republican party begin to stand against the Tea Party.

  • Stefan Karoly

    I am astonished by the amount of hate in this article and related comments. Do you really despise your fellow Americans that much? You can disagree with the Tea Party without having to resort to hate speech. The Klan?!?….really?!?

    The power elite loves it when they can get the masses battling each other for it makes it easier to rule. Divide and Conquer. That includes Karl Rove, Barack Obama, Rush Limbaugh and Alan Grayson. So stop adding fuel to the fire lest you get consumed by the resulting conflagration.

  • michael

    Wow Rick, you’ve really lowered yourself this time. Are you padding your resume in search of a job for the next three years in a lame duck administration?

    Grayson defecates this bomb-throwing hate rhetoric and you ask ‘On target or polarizing?” A man of integrity and morality would have called out Grayson for spreading hate and demonizing those who simply carry differing opinions (and all in the service of him raising big $$$…..obviously hate sells to his supporters). Instead you act as if you’re just so darned undecided as to which side to come down upon.

    The past few weeks have brought forth a torrent of war-like talk…hostage taking, terrorists, etc. I can’t believe you all want civil war, but you sure are talking like it. When crafting post like this, you should pause and consider Europe in the Summer of ’14….and then be careful what you wish for.