Tea party guide to D.C.: Racist or overblown?

By Melissa Bell

A few weeks ago, Bruce Majors, a D.C. blogger and real estate agent, posted a guide on his blog to Washington, D.C. to help "tea party" visitors find a "cheap restaurant with WiFi" while they were in town for Glenn Beck's "Restoring Honor" rally.

In a telephone interview today, Majors said he had his mother in mind when he wrote the post. "If my mom came here from a small town where she lives and I was at work, where would I tell her to go?" Majors said.

This week that little guide became a hot topic on the Web and on national news programs hosted by Rachel Maddow and Chris Matthews. The tea party guide to D.C. had gone viral.

When Majors heard that his blog had become national news, he assumed it was because people were angry that he had posted the home addresses of top Democrats, adding "Feel free to protest!"

Majors was wrong. It was his admonishment to stay off certain Metro lines that riled up the Internet. "[Y]ou don't know where you are so you cannot go, especially at night, unless you take me with you," Majors had written, advising people to stay off the Green and Yellow lines. (Obviously, Majors does not have The Washington Post's DC Rider app.)

The Post's Eugene Robinson told Maddow: "This is obviously Scaring White People, Part 2. What they have done is essentially put off-limits any parts of the city where these ... tea partiers believe you might be more likely to encounter, dare I say, black people."

The path the blog item traveled, from Majors's site to Maddow's show, was spurred by Majors's friend Andrew Ian Dodge. Dodge had asked Rogers if he could repost the guide on Maine Refounders, a tea party blog. Once there, Little Green Footballs, a political commentary blog, and DCist, a city website, linked to the guide.

The blogosphere had a heyday with the guide. American Prospect called it "The Tea Party Guide To Avoiding Black Neighborhoods." Talking Points Memo wrote: "Tea Party Primer On D.C.: Dangerous, Scary And Full Of Arabs."

Earlier reports said the guide came from tea party bloggers in Maine. Dodge, the lead singer in a country rock band, Growing Old Disgracefully, said, "They use any excuse to trash the tea party movement."

Majors, who is white and openly gay, says the racism accusation is unfounded and that it's a crutch the media use. "Every single person that disagrees with them is racist."

"I, like Rachel Maddow, have assumptions about a stereotypical tea party person. Mine have less to do with their racial makeup and bigotry, but more with the idea that they are from a small town who aren't very sophisticated who have never taken public transportation," he said.

D.C. blogger Laura Olin created a map showing what areas were considered safe according to Majors's guide: A small red sliver of land rests amid a sea of blue.

Majors disagreed with the map, saying he included points all the way up to Shady Grove.

Read Majors's tips and let us know what you think.

Follow Melissa Bell on Twitter at @melissabell.

August 27, 2010; 2:15 PM ET
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