Has the Tea Party truly "siphoned energy and support from violent fringe groups"? On Wednesday James Dao and Serge Kovaleski of the New York Times reported on the murderous rampage at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin: "Music Style Is Called Supremacist Recruiting Tool."
After working in the threat of "ultra-right-wing militias" (though all indiciations are that the killer acted alone), Dao and Kovaleski threw in a reference to the Tea Party as a "more mainstream alternative" to such violent domestic terrorist outfits, though there has never been violence or arrests at Tea Party rallies.
The shooting rampage by an avowed white supremacist that killed six people at a suburban Sikh Temple near here came at a time of both growth and disarray in the supremacist movement.
Though data collected by the Southern Poverty Law Center, which monitors hate groups, shows that the number of ultra-right-wing militias and white power organizations has grown sharply since the election of President Obama in 2008, the movement is more decentralized and in many ways more disorganized than ever, experts and movement leaders say.
But [Devin] Burghart and other experts on racist ideology said the movement has grown disjointed in recent years, despite the recruiting opportunities presented by an economic recession and the election of a black president.
One reason for the disarray might be the growth of a more mainstream movement, the Tea Party, whose successful forays into electoral politics have siphoned energy and support from violent fringe groups, said Chip Berlet, a Boston-based journalist who writes about right-wing groups.