Of course, whether or not Tea Partiers love racist signs is a little beside the point; the question of racism has less to do with whether Tea Partiers hate minorities — I’m sure they don’t — and more to do with the ethnocentric origins of their beliefs. Put another way, are Tea Partiers opposed to government spending out of allegiance to an anti-government ideology, or are they opposed to government spending because it goes to the “wrong” people?
My guess is that it has a lot to do with the latter. Across the board, American political opinions are tied to racial attitudes in very intimate ways; whether we realize it or not, race plays an important part in whether we support redistributive policies and how we identify ourselves on the political spectrum. Tea Partiers are no different.