A public university sent an email to alumni highlighting the esteemed research of one of its professors — research that notes many similarities between the old Ku Klux Klan and its modern-day equivalent, the tea party.
The University of Washington’s email to alumni asked the question four separate times: “Is The Tea Party like the Ku Klux Klan?” Christopher Parker, a UW political science professor, argues in a new book that there are major similarities. The book is titled “Change They Can’t Believe In: The Tea Party and Reactionary Politics in Contemporary America.”
“In this commentary from Professor Christopher Parker he argues that recent research shows racism is a strong indicator of Tea Party support,” said the email, which plugs Parker’s book.
Parker provided very specific examples in the commentary, according to Campus Reform.
“Consider the Tea Party,” wrote Parker. “Similar to the Klan, white, middle- class, middle-aged, Protestant men dominate the Tea Party’s ranks.”
In a statement to Campus Reform, Parker clarified that there are also distinct differences between the Tea Party and the KKK — namely, the latter’s penchant for violence. Still, the comparison is valid, he said.
“Can we not say that the Tea Party is heavily involved in politics?” he wrote. “Further, can we not also say that many Tea Partiers are not educated and accomplished? Finally, can we not also say that the Tea Party has an intolerant element? The answer to all three is yes. So, to answer your question, I recognize why some on the right are alarmed at the comparison, but they need to bear in mind that the comparison is VERY specific to the Klan of the 1920s: another national right-wing political movement, one with an educated, accomplished element that also has its share of intolerant people. In sum, the Tea Party need not be a similarly violent or bigoted movement in order for it to be compared to the KKK, especially given the different historical context.”
The university did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but released a statement acknowledging the controversial nature of Parker’s work.