Glenn Beck recently had a "non-political" rally, which many saw as successfully "non-political" because it was a call for religion. Never mind that all the people at the rally were already religious. I think that it's telling that just as the Republicans are poised to take more power back in Washington, that the conversation is changing from economics to religion.
Tea Partiers are angry. Is it racism? Probably, partly on some subconscious level, the way racism insidiously works. Why else would you piss all over Martin Luther King's "I Have A Dream" speech, and simultaneously inoculate yourself from charges of racism by saying nice things about King? I mean, these people aren't arguing for civil rights, or they'd be looking out for gays, Latinos and Muslims. Or at least making some weird dated call for some outreach to the black community or some necessary call for urban development and an end to the drug war or school reform or...listen, most black people didn't get elected president recently. There's more to be done.
I think that what really might have set people off is generational change. When the Clintons came to power it was the first Hippie presidency, and the right went mad. Under Bush and war the swing from loyalty to disgust with our leadership FELT like the sixties, and the right felt that heat.
What threatens now is a "turning of the page." Obama is no hippie, and I don't think the right wants to give up that fight just yet. So it's throwing every old accusation and many new ones his way, as they flounder in the new paradigm. Claiming Martin Luther King is part of this dated debate. They worry about atheism (and Islamism) during the golden age of political piety, and socialism well after the fall of communism.
In clinging to the past, they don't notice that, just as Republicans are poised to gain power, a movement that was supposed to be about deficits has suddenly changed the subject back to the culture wars. Funny how that works.
They won't let go of the past, when we're in desperate need of the new.