‘The Willingness to Die’

Think the tea party is going to tone down its violent rhetoric in the wake of the horrific shooting that left six innocent people dead in Arizona last weekend?

Think the religious right is willing to let lawmakers focus on critical fiscal issues in these tough economic times?

Think the far right has recognized the need for compromise to govern in a sharply divided nation?

Not in Texas.

“Do they [politicians] have the willingness to die to overturn the tyranny we see not only in this nation but in this state? That’s what it’s going to take. Do you hear me? That’s what it’s gonna take!”


That’s Apostle Clāver T. Kamau-Imani of a group called “Raging Elephant,” speaking at a rally of several hundred tea party activists at the Texas Capitol on Tuesday. Kamau-Imani and other speakers left little doubt about what their extremist vision for politics in Texas entails.

First and foremost, there is little real distinction between the tea party and the religious right in Texas. They are essentially one and the same. Listen to the roar of approval from the crowd when Kamau-Imani defines his standard for lawmakers:

“If they [politicians] don’t have the spirit of Christ, they may be eligible, but they are not qualified.”

These are the same folks who have worked for the more than a decade to make the state GOP platform less a political tract than a fundamentalist religious manifesto. The religious right has controlled the Texas Republican Party for a generation, and changing the name on a rally banner to “Tea Party” can’t hide the fact that social conservatives are still calling the shots at the conservative grassroots level in Texas. And they are hell-bent on ensuring those in elected office continue to bow and kiss the ring.

Second, conservative leaders in Texas have no intention of dialing back the violent rhetoric. Listen to this clip of Kamau-Imani explaining what he believes the Bible teaches about dealing with politicians who compromise:


It is more than a little chilling to hear these words mere days after Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, who often drew the ire of tea-party supporters in her own state, was shot at a public event:

“When you identify those folks who have self-identified themselves as [sic] compromisers and surrender-ers, then it is our obligation — it is or duty to purify ourselves of them, to rid ourselves of them. The fight is not over.”

And cloaking such eliminationist language in religious terminology doesn’t excuse it. In fact, it makes it even more despicable.

And finally, the tea party/religious right in Texas will remain as unforgiving and rigidly orthodox as ever — for them, compromise is surrender. Ironically, after weeks of nasty wrangling over the race for Texas House speaker, the actual discussion in the Legislature on Tuesday featured calls for cooperation and comity. Contrast that with this clip from the rally outside the Capitol, in which Kamau-Imani shouts that liberals and progressives are “unclean” and “contaminate the spirit of liberty.”


“The Bible also says ‘touch no unclean thing.’ I believe that progressivism, liberalism, socialism, all those evil ‘isms’ are unclean. We should not be touching them. In touching them we contaminate the spirit of liberty. We contaminate our movement. We contaminate our social foundation. We contaminate our families. We contaminate our schools. We contaminate the sovereignty of our state and our nation when we touch these things. When we compromise. When we surrender.”

TFN has often pointed out that the religious right is not a religious movement. It is a political movement that cloaks itself in the language of faith. The scene at the Texas Capitol on Tuesday makes clear that this distinction also applies to the tea party movement in Texas. The same exclusionary, domineering  impulse that sees faith primarily as a handy political weapon also animates the tea party movement.

And the religious right era in Texas isn’t retreating. In the words of far-right activists in recent months, it’s reloading.

You can watch the entire disturbing tea party jeremiad for yourself here: Part 1 and Part 2.

23 thoughts on “‘The Willingness to Die’

  1. Ha. He’s hustling these folks. I wonder if he passed the plate around. That is hilarious. He may go far in the ” tea party”.

  2. It is sickening that this group is still peddling this hate speech and encouraging violence like what happened in my hometown of Tucson. If anything, I hope the public learns to not use violence or spew this disgusting, hateful rhetoric.

  3. How about “Bible-ism”?
    The Bible didn’t exist in Jesus’ time. Jesus never read the Bible. If it’s good enough for Jesus, it’s good enough for me.

  4. As hateful as all this religious right bigotry is, your tendency to assign groupthink schmear and labels to anyone who disagrees with your perspective isn’t too far behind. The religious Right would be the religious Left is the religionists thought their needs would be better served. I don’t want the “Tea Party”, the Right, or the Left to make rules for me.

    I’m a conservative but not religious. I am as concerned about the religious nuts in Texas as much as you. Now that I think about it, probably more than you as I understand them better than you do. I believe in fiscal responsibility and social liberalism.

    Stop saying, “conservatives did this and conservatives did that” when in fact you are talking about religious nut jobs who are suborning the republican party and conservatism. It is liberals who historically, REALLY like to mandate individual behavior. You are making unnecessarily polarising statements that have a momentary ring of accuracy.

    I enjoy reading the news feeds from TFN but painting with your broad brush trivializes your argument and and alienates some of your many allies.

  5. Jay, take it up with the religious right. They’re the one who co-opted the word “conservative”. The old line conservatives like W.F.Buckley, who kept the John Birchers from taking over the GOP, are gone. The inmates are running the asylum.
    I would agree that the term “conservative” doesn’t really fit these people, I have “conservative” ideas myself. If you want the GOP to be something other than what it is right now, which is the Theocratic fascist party, you’d better get to work. The “tea party” element is basically the hard core Bushies, the evangelical, racist, gunwhack right.
    Or start a new party with some integrity.

  6. The Democrats need a “tea Party” of their own. Harry Reid is another Neville Chamberlain. Obama is as effective as a net condom. I agree with refusal to compromise. As progressives we are working for the good of mankind. Any compromise with these authoritarian theocrats is shameful. They believe in God not people. If you are a true Christian, you will have no problem recogniing the “religious right” as the anti-Christ.

  7. David, actually Jesus knew the Bible very well, the Hebrew Bible and Torah certainly existed then. Look to MLK Jr to see waht someone who truly followed what the Bible says about social change–always non violent. This guy speaking is a clown. I am so glad TFN has posted this as I have had a hard time finding out about the rallies Tuesday at the Capitol.

  8. Jay I hear what you’re saying. I just don’t think it’s sufficient any longer for a politician or activist to be identified as a “conservative” – the term is just too broad. It’s time to move to descriptors of either “fiscal conservative” or “religious conservative.” Mitch Daniels of Indiana is a great example of a fiscal conservative. He’s done a tremendous job with state budget and it was Daniels who said last year that it’s time for the GOP to move away from social issues and focus on the financial mess the country is in. That drew outrage from the religious conservatives led by Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council. And more outrage followed a few weeks ago when Daniels was invited to speak at CPAC, the big GOP gathering up in Washington next month. One religious conservative said the event organizers (RNC?) were “completely out of line” inviting Daniels to speak. Can you imagine? The FRC and the American Family Association have both pulled out of the event, an event at which they usually have a large footprint, because a gay republican group will be attending. Perkins demanded the gay group be bannded and the organizers told him to go F himself.

    I see these developments as nothing but positive. It would very healthy for both the GOP and country if the party were to fracture with fiscal conservatives-social moderates going one way and religious conservatives going the other. The majority of republicans, the silent majority, don’t agree with the religious conservative agenda anyway but all conservatives get tainted with the religious right stench.

  9. Jay, David is correct…you’re sending your message to the wrong group. I have read enough of Tea-Party type conservatives to say with confidence that they believe one cannot separate fiscal conservatism from social conservatism. They are two sides of the same coin, so to speak. You and your fiscally conservative associates need to take back “conservatism” as a whole, or make a clear split from the social conservatives (and suffer their wrath). Good luck with that.

  10. sickened: Yes, I know he knew the Hebrew scriptures, but “the Bible” as these folks know it didn’t exist. They have apparently not read the reported actual teachings of Christ.
    There are basically two forces that are being combined in a dark alchemy in the religious right. One is the original purpose of the “religious right” which is Jim Crow, intolerance, antiSemitism, Bircherism, etc. The racial component of that was beaten and driven underground in the 50’s and 60’s, and it’s force was sublimated into the anti-abortion frenzy, then homophobia. Now we see these demons of racism and xenophobia daring to come into the daylight.
    The other force is the tradition of hucksterism that existed in the 19th century, saw an early golden age in the ’20’s and ’30’s with the advent of radio and newsreels, was satirized by Sinclair Lewis in “Elmer Gantry”, and then was launched into the stratosphere of megabusiness with televangelism. This is the force which Kamau-Imani is riding even as the tea party is seeking to purge itself of people of color elsewhere. They cynically want him and other black evangelical hustlers to help present a false front and he is either naively or cynically riding the wave to self-enrichment.
    Those of us who would hope this collective “spell” of madness would have been broken by the events in Tucson are preparing for it to get worse before it gets better. Eventually the spell will be broken, one way or the other.

  11. What I saw after Pres. Obama was inaugurated was that the hardcore Bushies, the religious right, rebranded themselves as the tea party because it looked like the GOP was toast. The first notable neoconfederate, social conservative to ditch any mention of social issues was Bob McDonnell of VA, who promptly started rewriting the history of the civil war and praising slavery, etc after he settled into office. That’was a model for a bunch of others who tried to pretend to be “fiscal conservatives” but couldn’t balance their own checkbooks.

  12. Lead was banned in paint and gasoline some decades ago. The positive effect of this has GOT to kick in some time soon. I hope.

  13. Mitch Daniels, the republican and fiscal conservative governor of Indiana, has put forth some much needed cost cutting measures for Social Security and Medicare. He’s a proponent of means testing for Social Security – if you don’t need it you don’t get it. (Bill Gates probably won’t need social security.) One of his Medicare ideas would effect the elderly who have a catastrophic health event that results in a comatose state. After a brief period – 10 days, 2 weeks, whatever – without the patient showing any signs of regaining consciousness the burden of paying for life extending measures would shift to the estate or family – pay the tab or pull the plug. It’s a tough but fair approach. And something religious conservatives would absolutely hate (Terri Schiavo) and would bring renewed howling about death panels from an intellectual midget and former governor who once told a gathering “I can go to Washington and get money for the state of Alaska but it won’t do any good unless all of you are right with God.”

  14. I don’t know how we got onto social security from here, but the idea that social security is in trouble is not true. That’s one of the old time bug-aboos of conservatives to try to abolish social security. I think we could do some means testing and some raising of the ceiling on the revenue, but anything that sets the GOP to bickering is fine with me. The fact is that the super rich and Wall Street has been raping and pillaging the American middle class and they’re finally catching on to that. That’s why we don’t have money for schools, for humane treatment of the mentally ill, for investments in things that will restore and sustain the middle class. If we do not restore and sustain the middle class, and fix Wall Street, which is a massive tumor on the American economy, we are doomed as a civilized nation.
    Right now the religious right is STANDING IN THE WAY of progress, what they need to do is GET OUT OF THE WAY, and when they do that, all our relatively minor problems like medicare and social security will get solved.

  15. Lurker111:

    Yes, this is my area of expertise. If you can write a sentence correctly, which you did, it HAS kicked in. Lead rots the brain.

  16. David with all due respect Medicare and Social Security will not solve themselves, drastic changes must be made. The biggest problem with Social Security is that it hasn’t been funded since Gerald Ford was president – 1976. Which is to say that those contributions to SS taken out of our paychecks haven’t made it into the SS fund since 1976. They’ve been hijacked each and every year by the president and the congress. In 1976 tax receipts were lacking so Ford thought “well we’ll just borrow this Social Security money once and then put it back next year.” Congress thought it was a splendid idea and gave Ford the go-ahead and that “borrowing” has occurred each and every year since. And so here we are 35 years later and ……oh I think $4 trillion, somewhere in there, is the amount that has been ripped off by our elected officials. It’s all been put to good use though – $80,000 electric toilets and the like.

    Beyond that there are just so many millions and millions of baby boomers that are going to retire over the next two decades, people that are living longer than any previous generation, that the demands put Social Security and Medicare will be enormous. There’s already talk of raising the retirement age to 67 as a first step. I look for that to happen sometime in the next decade.

  17. I don’t agree with the premise that social security and medicare require drastic measures to fix. What has happened in the last 30 years is that the super rich has raped and pillaged the middle class, and have brainwashed a significant portion of the electorate into bending over and taking it. What we’re fighting against at TFN is part of that brainwashing structure that has set white people against poor people of color, i.e. religious right/tea party.
    During this period of all out total class war, waged unilaterally by the rich on the middle class and poor, there has been a massive REDISTRIBUTION OF WEALTH from the middle class to the super wealthy, and upward mobility out of poverty has completely stagnated.
    All we need to do is restore our middle class economy and we will find the way to fix those problems.
    When you find yourself in a deep, deep hole, the first thing to do is STOP DRINKING THE KOOLAID.

  18. America has an aging work force and the number of baby boomers retiring will far exceed the number of new workers coming into the labor force over the next two decades – ergo the deficit. It’s simple math. The middle class has shrunk, which doesn’t help the situation from a tax revenue generation standpoint. Tax the hell out of the super-rich to make up for the shortfall? That works for me. Or we can keep borrowing to finance entitlement programs but as the national debt continues to accumulate at some point the Japanese and other big buyers of our bonds are going to want a risk premium.

  19. We don’t even have to “tax the hell” out of the rich. All we have to do is raise their taxes 3 cents on the dollar and that takes care of $700 billion over 10 years.
    If we continue to make improvements to the existing health care reform bill, we restructure our subsidy/tax programs for energy and put some investment into the 21st cent. infrastructure, that will create millions of new middle class non exportable private sector jobs, which will further improve our debt picture, we would have problems which are manageable. Comprehensive immigration reform would help our soc sec. liablilty/debt picture too.
    If we quit spending trillions on war, again, that would help. Right now, Wall Street benefits from the wars. No one else.

  20. Assuming a 3% federal tax increase is sufficient to fund future social security obligations there is still the matter of a multi-trillion dollar deficit created by the under-funding for the past 35 years. And consider the national debt was $4.8 trillion when George W. Bush took office in 2000. When he left office the debt was just a whisker under $9.6 trillion as a so-called conservative essentially doubled the debt in 8 years. Now the debt sits near $14 trillion and at this pace in a few more years it will be $20 trillion.

    Fortunately we’re in a low interest environment right now but in a more historically normal rate period of 5% it will cost $1 trillion annually just to service the debt. Yearly tax revenues generally come in come in somewhere around $1.7 or $1.8 trillion. It’s not a pretty picture and austerity measures must take place at some point. But that’s not a bad thing, fiscal responsibility is healthy. A good starting point would be defense spending which has been excessive since…..well when Eisenhower left office he said beware of the evil that lurks in the hearts of the military-industrial complex or something like that.

  21. I didn’t say a 3 % increase would fund SS. However, it’s a significant part of the debt for the foreseeable future.
    When people start talking about “austerity measures” they basically mean kicking the poor out in the street. Cat food for seniors. etc.
    The superwealthy can buy a new yacht every other year, instead of every year, as far as I’m concerned.
    I know, I know, it’s impossible to touch the superwealthy. They have untold power, etc.
    Let’s find out.

  22. I’m not an advocate of cutting benefits for the most needy but yes, when budget cuts happen the poor seem to be effected most. What drives me absolutely ballistic is when Tony Perkins of the FRC or Wendy Wright of Concerned Woman for America start pretending they’re fiscal conservatives and talk about cutting welfare, which they do on occasion. Those two lobbying groups are at the forefront of trying to limit abortion any way they can with the ultimate goal of overturning Roe versus Wade. So when poor women get pregnant they’d deny them choice, they want them go on and give birth no matter what. After that the kids can starve to death for all they care. The hypocrisy is absolutely repulsive.