Tea Partiers were incensed when they learned that Congressman Alan Grayson’s campaign (D-Fl.) sent out an e-mail comparing the Tea Party to the Ku Klux Klan. Grayson had already told Rev. Al Sharpton during an interview that the Tea Party’s tactics were appalling and “no more popular than the Klan.”
But Grayson’s campaign took the comparison a step further when they used the KKK’s iconic burning cross to replace the “T” in Tea Party with the caption, “Now You Know What the ‘T’ Stands for.”
Jennifer Burke, National Outreach Director of TheTeaParty.net, told Metro she first saw the image on Twitter. “Representative Grayson is known for his inflammatory statements toward the Tea Party, but when I saw this I was appalled and sickened for a couple of reasons,” said Burke. “The number one fact of the facts is that the Democrats are the ones who founded the KKK. It’s a horrible part of our nation’s history, when someone could be killed for having the wrong colored skin in the eyes of someone else, and for him to apply that and say, ‘This is the Tea Party movement’ is disgusting.”
Burke added, “The Tea Party stands for a constitutionally limited government, not stringing up people from trees for being black. This is horrible even for Grayson.” Burke is black and said the image hit her hard as her parents and grandparents grew up in the South when the KKK had a strong presence.
Grayson responded in a statement that members of the Tea Party are the ones who started racially charged attacks. “When the President visited my home of Orlando, Tea Party protesters shouted ‘Kenyan Go Home,’” he said. “Other examples include Tea Party chants of ‘Bye Bye, Blackbird,’ and Tea Party posters saying ‘Obama’s Plan: White Slavery.’” The congressman also sent an image supposedly from the Tea Party that shows President Obama as an African witch doctor with a staff and a banana headdress. The poster says, “Obamacare: Coming soon to a clinic near you” and has a hammer and sickle in place of the “C.”
Grayson continued with other examples of how he believes Tea Party members have used racial or sexist epithets to describe Democratic politicians and closed the statement with, “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 hood fits, wear it.”