By Evan MacDonald
Dr. John Press, president of the Brooklyn Tea Party, doesn’t believe in multiculturalism. Instead, he believes in “culturism.”
Press believes in America’s roots as a Judeo-Christian society, and as such, his group believes in an adherence to the values associated with Judeo-Christian cultures.
“When they say that all cultures are our friends, and anybody who supports having a border is racist, they undervalue us and do us a disservice, and quite frankly endanger the continuation of America,” Press said. “That’s why we’ve got to replace multiculturalism with culturism.”
The Brooklyn Tea Party attracted a crowd of about 125 people recently to the 69th Street Pier on Sept. 19 as they protested the planned Islamic center near Ground Zero, increased government spending, and the health care bill, among other things. Nine speakers, including both former and prospective politicians, spoke during the three-hour rally.
“The fact is, in Albany and in Washington, our governments have been hijacked by people who do not share our values, and do not value our freedom,” said one speaker, former Lt. Gov. Betsy McCaughney, as cheers broke out around her.
The rally was the second headed by the Brooklyn Tea Party, which formed five months ago in the wake of similar Tea Party movements that have sprung up across America. It is growing in size, according to Press. He said the group’s first rally, which in June protested the planned Islamic center near ground zero, only had about 25 attend.
The organization was the brainchild of Press and a few friends, who had seen the Staten Island Tea Party achieve success. What began as small meetings at a local pizza shop grew through word of mouth, paper flyers, and a Facebook page. Now the group meets every Sunday at Kosher Hut on King’s Highway.
During the recent rally, Tea Party members walked around handing out small American flags, and many brought signs protesting big government, national health care, and President Barack Obama.
When Frank Santarpia, president of the Staten Island Tea Party, told the crowd it would be a few short years before President Obama may be voted out of office, many broke out in cheers.
At one point, when the discussion of stronger national borders came up, one man shouted “Get them out, get them all out!”
And while supporters of the Brooklyn Tea Party don’t agree on everything, many rally around a core set of beliefs. One speaker, Susan Kone, the Republican nominee for the U.S. Congress in New York’s 8th District, said she identifies with the Tea Party movement because it represents political activism.
“I think [being politically active] is a positive thing, and that’s what America is all about,” Kone said. “And there shouldn’t be stigma because we want to get involved, and we think our government and our country are headed in the wrong direction.”
Press and his organization’s views on “culturism” have been met with their fair share of criticism. One protestor at the rally called Press a terrorist, and anonymous writer “John Galt,” in an Aug. 28 post for the online blog Atlas Shrugs in Brooklyn, called on Republicans to denounce the Brooklyn Tea Party.
Members of the Brooklyn Tea Party, however, say they aren’t going to let the opinions of others deter them from their message.
“That’s just part of the game,” said Francisco Pohole, a member of the Tea Party. “Ping-pong requires two players.”
Press says he is not a racist, but instead a “culturist.” He says that multiculturalism does not work, and that all countries have a core set of cultural aesthetics — like Judeo-Christian teachings in America, for example — they need to sustain themselves as nations.
“If this was racism, there would be no hope, because people are not going to change their skin color,” Press said. “But this is culturism. People can change their culture.”