A tea party group’s rebranding effort first-person shot itself in the foot Saturday when it posted to its Facebook page an image from a popular video game that contains racist caricatures of minorities.
The National Liberty Federation, formerly known as the South Florida Tea Party, changed its name last January as part of a rebranding effort in the aftermath of President Obama’s reelection. The group’s founder, Everett Dickinson, told the Palm Beach Post that the group “wanted to differentiate ourselves from certain organizations that have the name ‘tea party’ and we can’t control.”
The group helped Florida Republican Senator Marco Rubio burnish his credentials among tea party activists in advance of his successful 2010 Senate bid.
The video game, Bioshock Infinite, takes place largely in a floating city called Columbia and depicts a racist, xenophobic society where people worship the American founding fathers as religious figures. The image posted to the National Liberty Federation’s Facebook page is of an in-game mural that depicts George Washington bathed in angelic light as he holds the Liberty Bell in one hand and the Ten Commandments in the other, as racist carictures of minorities gather at his feet. The banner at the bottom of the image says, “It is our holy duty to guard against the foreign hordes.” There’s no indication that the image was posted ironically or that the poster understood that the game does not endorse the sentiments portrayed in the mural.
After criticism broke, the group apparently took the image down or changed the privacy settings on its page.
While the image seems inflammatory, it’s in line with the rest of the material on the group’s Facebook page. The group has posted images depicting Obama as Hitler, misquoting Winston Churchill comparing Islam to rabies, and promoting a book that accuses President Lyndon Johnson as having murdered President John F. Kennedy.
Game developer Ken Levine, one of the founders of Irrational Games, the company that produced Bioshock Infinite, offered a curt response on twitter when the post was brought to his attention. “It takes a village…village idiot,” Levine tweeted.