About those ‘racist’ tea-party signs? Yeah, not so much

From the Washington Post:

A new analysis of political signs displayed at a tea party rally in Washington last month reveals that the vast majority of activists expressed narrow concerns about the government’s economic and spending policies and steered clear of the racially charged anti-Obama messages that have helped define some media coverage of such events.

Emily Ekins, a graduate student at UCLA, conducted the survey at the 9/12 Taxpayer March on Washington last month by scouring the crowd, row by row and hour by hour, and taking a picture of every sign she passed.

Ekins photographed about 250 signs, and more than half of those she saw reflected a “limited government ethos,” she found — touching on such topics as the role of government, liberty, taxes, spending, deficit and concern about socialism. Examples ranged from the simple message “$top the $pending” scrawled in black-marker block letters to more elaborate drawings of bar charts, stop signs and one poster with the slogan “Socialism is Legal Theft” and a stick-figure socialist pointing a gun at the head of a taxpayer.

There were uglier messages, too — including “Obama Bin Lyin’ — Impeach Now” and “Somewhere in Kenya a Village is Missing its Idiot.” But Ekins’s analysis showed that only about a quarter of all signs reflected direct anger with Obama. Only 5 percent of the total mentioned the president’s race or religion, and slightly more than 1 percent questioned his American citizenship.

Ekins’s conclusion is not that the racially charged messages are unimportant but that media coverage of tea party rallies over the past year have focused so heavily on the more controversial signs that it has contributed to the perception that such content dominates the tea party movement more than it actually does.

The story reports that Elkins has interned previously at the libertarian Cato Institute, which tends not to have a favorable view of Obama’s policies. But she’d have to be pretty crazy — or some kind of uber-deep-cover plant in graduate school — to risk her graduate degree by setting out to skew the results of her study.

And in any case, Elkins has some true words of wisdom about jumping to conclusions:

“Just because a couple of percentage points of signs have those messages doesn’t mean the other people don’t share those views, but it doesn’t mean they do, either. But when 25 percent of the coverage is devoted to those signs, it suggests that this is the issue that 25 percent of people think is so important that they’re going to put it on a sign, when it’s actually only a couple of people.”

65 comments Add your comment

Guy Incognito

October 15th, 2010
11:45 am

AxelROD would say, “Do you have any proof that there were no racist signs”?

Oh, wait……..she does have proof

Jefferson

October 15th, 2010
11:48 am

tea republicans are simply republicans who felt bad about all the lies they told, rehab so to speak, but like the addicts they are, they will lie again.

CJ

October 15th, 2010
11:50 am

The tea party rally last month was post-NAACP resolution. I wonder what such a study would have shown for previous Tea Party rallies? Not quite as rosy, I suspect.

Or perhaps, the data would have been more reliable if this Cato Institute intern had simply asked random participants questions to determine whether racism played into their politics. Questions other than, “Are you a racist?”, that is.

Whacks Eloquent

October 15th, 2010
11:50 am

Anyone who solely puts the blame on Obama for the current mess we are in is being intellectually dishonest. It is the entire pervasive Washington atmosphere. Hopefully we will flush out a lot of them this year, and maybe more in 2012. I am hoping to see a Tea Party-like move for Democrats too, maybe for next election. We can have liberalism vs conservatism just fine without having to have all of them be crooks in the process. We have not held our elected officials to any responsibility for far too long.

Kyle Wingfield

October 15th, 2010
11:56 am

CJ: Let me guess which questions you have in mind:

Q: Do you support Obama’s health-care reform? No = RACIST
Q: Did you vote for Obama in 2008? No = RACIST

And so on.

The insistence of people like you that racism motivates and characterizes the tea party is getting to the point that it hurts you more than it hurts the tea party. To paraphrase Santayana: Those who do not understand the tea party are doomed to repeat the losses coming their way.

LA

October 15th, 2010
12:02 pm

CJ

Why don’t you just go to a Tea Party instead of letting Kieth Olberman tell you what to think.

Charles

October 15th, 2010
12:03 pm

I’m more interested in your predictions after Deal is elected. You mentioned early on that if one more shoe fell – I think 3 already had – you didn’t see Deal being a viable candidate. Well we now have about 7 shoes piling up. where will Georgia be 2 years from now with Deal? About where we are with 8 years of Perdue – no actions taken that might ruffel feathers. Barnes by all accounts was a conservative democrat who took a stand and got things done – that helped the state move ahead. Perdue – like Deal – is a do nothing politican who makes no waves, accomplishes nothing, and gets re-elected. I’d like for you to really look at both candidates records – not whether they have a D or R after their names and tell us again who would make the better governor for Georgia.

dylandawg

October 15th, 2010
12:04 pm

Kyle, your reply is just silly…wasn’t your whole point that we shouldn’t judge the whole by the few and look what you just did…. unless of course your Q and A was directed specifically at CJ

md

October 15th, 2010
12:05 pm

Just goes to show the agenda of the msm – after 9/11, it was “a few muslim extremists”, not all muslims.

Yet now, a few suddenly equate to all………

And yet so many don’t think the “media” even has an agenda.

LA

October 15th, 2010
12:09 pm

Kyle, you are the only one at the AJC who isn’t on some sort of drug. Illegal drug that is. Jay Bookman just made an insane prediction about the GOP and the democraps. I just love how left wingers are in such denial that now they are predicting that the democrats will be just fine. Jay cites the NY Times as “experts” on elections.

Oh it has to SUCK to be a left winger.

LA

October 15th, 2010
12:10 pm

“Questions other than, “Are you a racist?”, that is.”

The democrats made race the issue with the Tea Party.

LA

October 15th, 2010
12:16 pm

Kyle Wingfield

October 15th, 2010
12:17 pm

dylandawg: I had hoped to direct my answer to CJ by beginning it “CJ:”.

But I’m sorry if that wasn’t clear.

Kyle Wingfield

October 15th, 2010
12:17 pm

For the record, my 12:17 comment was directed to dylandawg.

LA

October 15th, 2010
12:18 pm

IRONY of the day.

TPS teacher who watched Obama sign bill is laid off

http://www.toledoblade.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20101015/NEWS04/10140328

dylandawg

October 15th, 2010
12:20 pm

KW…so CJ has stated in the past that people that did not vote for Obama are racist and people that don’t support health care reform are racist?

CJ true?

Hillbilly Deluxe

October 15th, 2010
12:20 pm

I’d like for you to really look at both candidates records – not whether they have a D or R after their names and tell us again who would make the better governor for Georgia.

My answer would be, none of the above. I couldn’t vote for either of them, in good conscience.

dylandawg

October 15th, 2010
12:21 pm

now your trying to make me look dumb…sad for a pseudo-professional when I was very clear in my question

LA

October 15th, 2010
12:30 pm

“now your trying to make me look dumb”

No, you do that all by yourself.

Kyle Wingfield

October 15th, 2010
12:33 pm

dylandawg: I’m just speculating about what CJ thinks, but I’ll leave it to CJ to tell us which other questions should set off out race-dars.

As for my second comment, it was just a poor attempt at humor on my part. I didn’t intend it to be malicious.

dylandawg

October 15th, 2010
12:39 pm

How LA? I mean really how??? Was my questions that dumb? I even conceded the point that I might be wrong…please explain LA

LA

October 15th, 2010
12:40 pm

“Was my questions that dumb?”

Just read your own question, dawg.

CJ

October 15th, 2010
12:41 pm

The insistence of people like you that racism motivates and characterizes the tea party is getting to the point that it hurts you more than it hurts the tea party.

For the record, I don’t insist that racism motivates and characterizes the tea party. However, the evidence suggests that it does motivate and characterize a significant portion, not to be confused with all, of their participants (for example, http://www.newsweek.com/2010/04/25/are-tea-partiers-racist.html). This is true, even if pointing it out hurts “people like me” more than it hurts the tea party.

With regard to the questions I would ask, I would not have taken the bizarre approach that Kyle suggests. I’m no expert, but the folks who conducted the survey referenced in the link above seem to know what they’re doing.

LA

October 15th, 2010
12:43 pm

“However, the evidence suggests that it does motivate and characterize a significant portion”

Yet you left wingers have never once provided any evidence of racism at Tea Parties.

Oh, and Newsweak no longer exists. It went bankrupt.

“I’m no expert”

No argument here.

LA

October 15th, 2010
12:43 pm

CJ

Your link doesn’t work. Could it be that Newsweak has gone………..bankrupt?

dylandawg

October 15th, 2010
12:44 pm

well you bailed on that one…I knew that you didn’t have an answer…

LA

October 15th, 2010
12:45 pm

“well you bailed on that one…I knew that you didn’t have an answer…”

I was pointing out your poor grammar, dawg. Apparently it was too far over your head for you to understand.

Mrs. Norris

October 15th, 2010
1:10 pm

Just curious, do you think the people who are always saying just because some muslims kill people doesn’t mean all muslims are bad are the same people who say the Tea Party is racist because some members may be? I would also like to add that just because someone doesn’t like President Obama does not make them racist. All kinds of awful things were said about President Bush.

Sam

October 15th, 2010
1:12 pm

Since CJ consistently seeks and subsists on racism, it will find it. It can start by looking in the mirror. And then making its own signs and waving them around and making a scene and wandering around the Washington monument. You go CJ.

BTW, Ron Paul is the man, libertarian philosophy is the way, and truly free markets are the means.

Daedalus

October 15th, 2010
1:24 pm

I’m not sure that one study of signs carried at a rally on one particular day justifies the conclusion that the race of the President is not a motivating factor for some (or even a significant minority) of Tea Party adherents. I think the Tea Party is just getting better at putting on a public image. Good for them. If they’d only tone down the Obama is a “secret jihadist, nazi-socialist who hates america” rhetoric, I might take them more seriously than those far-left loonies like PETA.

Until then, its just more ugly partisanship from both the left and the right. Partisanship is really an IQ test, if you believe that either democrats or republicans (or libertarians) care about anything except getting and preserving political power, you failed.

Thurston B. Howell III

October 15th, 2010
1:26 pm

Our Death Panel always drinks tea.

left wing (the original)

October 15th, 2010
1:28 pm

So, your scientific poll is 1 rally? And was this the Glenn Beck rally, where he specifically told people not to bring signs like that?

Gimme a break.

I just had one of your conservative ‘friends’ on Jay Bookman’s blog tell me that Jews aren’t white.

I’m not saying that all conservatives or even all John Birch Society tea partiers are racist. But I will say that if we’re talking about a racist, the chances are really really good that they’re also a conservative / John Birch Society tea partier.

Arrogant B@st@rd

October 15th, 2010
1:31 pm

“Socialism is Legal Theft” and a stick-figure socialist pointing a gun at the head of a taxpayer.

There’s your sign. Though immensely popular among the proudly ignorant, the S word is a childish canard. And has extremely little basis in fact.

Also, I believe I have read where fully 30% of self-described Tea Baggists believe that the president is not a US citizen.

I would think about 3% would be normal…

jconservative

October 15th, 2010
1:32 pm

So who cares what people say in signs they carry about?

If this is the big issue of the day then Obama has been one hell of a fine president and I, for one, can’t wait until he is re-elected.

Arrogant B@st@rd

October 15th, 2010
1:48 pm

Let me amend that statement to read:

“Also, I believe fully 100% of buffoons believe that the president is not a US citizen.”

JF McNamara

October 15th, 2010
1:53 pm

The protest was last month after the “outrage” had already occurred. I don’t think people are dumb enough to keep using the signs if there is media scrutiny and backlash from other tea partiers. A better heading might be “Tea Partyers No Longer Displaying Racist signs”. The current title makes it seem like the initial media reporting was incorrect when it was actually true.

LA

October 15th, 2010
1:56 pm

“I don’t think people are dumb enough to keep using the signs if there is media scrutiny and backlash from other tea partiers. A better heading might be “Tea Partyers No Longer Displaying Racist signs”.

What’s really stupid about that statement is the fact that there hasn’t been one shred of evidence to show that the Tea Party is racist.

Showing Obama as a socialist is not racist.

Kyle Wingfield

October 15th, 2010
2:07 pm

LA, I’m giving you an early start to the weekend.

And I’ve taken down all the posts in that exchange about Jews, including the ones by others.

Mrs. Norris

October 15th, 2010
2:07 pm

I think if anyone is offended because they were said to be “not white” then they must think white is superior to not white. I’m just sayin….

left wing (the original)

October 15th, 2010
2:11 pm

Thank you Kyle We may disagree on several topics, but I consider you to be reasonable and moderate.

Hungry Gringo

October 15th, 2010
2:29 pm

It’s not whether the signs are racist but the anger behind the signs, like when people say the Civil War was about state’s rights or when Lester Maddox closed his restaurant in the name of private property rights.

Seem familiar?: http://atlantatimemachine.com/misc/maddox01.htm

The Snark

October 15th, 2010
2:36 pm

The Tea Party’s problem is not racism. It’s the fact that it is full of angry people with no experience in government, no expertise in complex problems, no practical plan to address the things they complain about, and an obsession with the personalities on the “other side.”

They may as well hold up signs saying “Karl Rove, please manipulate me!”

Thurston B. Howell III

October 15th, 2010
2:43 pm

Ole Lester. I used to eat at The Pickrick back in the day. Saw many Tea Partiers.

john

October 15th, 2010
2:47 pm

Arrogant B@st@rd…..So when I think it was the New York Times in 2008 did a poll, and something like 40% of self described Democrats stated that they believed Bush and the US government orchestrated the 9/11 attacks that’s not COMPLETELY INSANE!!

I’ll give you that anyone who keeps on the whole Obama is not a US citizen is probably a nut job; but anyone who actually believes Bush plan the Sept. 11 attacks needs to have their head examined.

Haywood Jablome

October 15th, 2010
3:00 pm

You know Kylie, less than 2% on the Muslim population were suicide bombers/flyers, but they seem to get a little more than their share of the media coverage. But probably for a good reason.

Tea party nutjobs, and there is no shortage of them, probably deserve a little more their fair share of coverage too. please get a more interesting topic than the out-dated and hackneyed “liberal media bias” crap.

The suggestion that coverage of the tea party’s make-up must mathematically correlate to its constituents personal political position is stupid.

Legend of Len Barker

October 15th, 2010
3:05 pm

I agree that it’s an inaccurate study. Beck specifically asked that the uber-inflammatory hate signs not be brought. Plus, it’s just one rally.

She would likely get different results depending on the size of the rally, where it was located, and the specific topic of the rally. Some rallies might be totally devoid of racism. Some might be filled to the brim. I understand that this was supposed to represent a national sample, but does it really? These are the individuals who had time and money enough to venture to DC.

This one study doesn’t prove anything.

Perhaps if she had gone to a previous Beck-inspired rally and photographed signs there, she’d have a point of comparison. But she doesn’t.

As Conrad Fink often says, compare and contrast.

The statistic means nothing by itself.

Willie

October 15th, 2010
3:09 pm

Why is it that you can’t carry a sign attacking Obama without some one exploiting it to call you racist. None of these very same people had a problem with Bush=Hitler signs, Villiage idiot signs for Bush or M the president ( or F the president) signs. Doesn’t it seem deeply wrong that for so many its fine to attack the president from one party but somehow out of bounds and racist to attack the president from the other party.
For this reason among many, the ephitet “racist” no longer carries much meaning when launched from the left or from the black community. They have cried out in a silly and manipulative fashion many times too many and have rendered the word they cherish meaningless.
Obama simply failed. He promised much more but turned out to be a garden variety, old tired liberal with the same old tired ideas. I do believe he hates the America that is but loves the idea of a government dominated nanny state where America used to be.

SAWB

October 15th, 2010
3:32 pm

A racist column and no Andy Young?

Skip

October 15th, 2010
4:41 pm

Enough on race, can’t we talk about the Dem’s taking our guns.

AmVet

October 15th, 2010
4:45 pm

So when I think it was the New York Times in 2008 did a poll, and something like 40% of self described Democrats stated that they believed Bush and the US government orchestrated the 9/11 attacks that’s not COMPLETELY INSANE!!

John, would you please post a link to that? I find it exceptionally difficult to believe otherwise.

But IF true, I agree 100% correct…