At the annual Arkansas rally of the Ozark Tea Party, Inge Marler made a joke that caused laughter throughout. The Huffington Post quoted her as saying, “A black kid asks his mom, ‘Mama, what’s a democracy?’ ‘Well, son, that be when white folks work every day so us po’ folks can get all our benefits.’ ‘But mama, don’t the white folk get mad about that?’ ‘They sho do, son. They sho do. And that’s called racism.’”

The racial attacks just keep on coming. This past August in Phoenix, a small chorus sang “Bye, Bye, Blackbird” while waving a sign that said “bye bye black sheep,” as the President gave a speech about housing finance reform. “In Orlando, a knot of protestorswave racially insulting signs including ‘Kenyan Go Home’ at Obama’s motorcade.” There was another incident where a GOP congressman hinted “that there’s sentiment among House Republicans for an Obama impeachment drive over questions about his American citizenship.”  

Historically racism has been prevalent in our military going back to before the Civil War. MarchForward is a vet blog that exists for “veterans and servicemembers to stand up against war and racism”. They proclaim that a “legacy of racism persists” in the military.

MarchForward noted The Washington Post reporting “that 75 percent of all people of color in the military complain that they have experienced racially offensive behavior, and less than half expressed confidence that complaints of discrimination are thoroughly investigated.”

So how did Sarah Palin, Ted Cruz, and Mike Lee recently get a group of mostly Vietnam-era vets to tear down the barricade to the World War II war memorial? They marched down to the Capitol and piled it back up right on front. Behind the pile of shutdown rubble, (a shutdown caused by Ted Cruz), they placed a banner that demanded that Congress impeach their Commander-in-Chief. To make matters worse, these same vets tussled with the Capitol Police who were working without pay, also because of Ted Cruz and his shutdown.

The Tea Party has managed to use racism, historically prevalent in our military, to incite predominately older white veterans to riot against their country. One sees very few, if any, people of color at these Tea Party, anti-Obama rallies. Our vets remain vulnerable to the kind of racism they themselves probably participated in while serving our country. To the Tea Party types, this is “fertile ground.”

Crowd manipulation has been the stock and trade of the Tea Party movement. Since their rise to power in 2010, they have used bigotry and racial rhetoric to manipulate our vets into unthinkable acts against their President. This would not have happened had the president been white.

Richard Andrew is a guest blogger for Ring of Fire.