To be a member of the Know Nothing Party, one had to be ‘a native born citizen, a Protestant, born of Protestant parents, reared under Protestant influence, and not united in marriage with a Roman Catholic’. In addition, members of the Know Nothing Party had to take a pledge to prevent ‘the insidious policy of the Church of Rome, an all other foreign influences against the institutions of our country, by placing in all offices in the gift of the people, whether by election or appointment, none but native-born Protestant citizens’.
Similarly, Tea Party members have stressed the importance of ‘taking our country back’ from ‘them’; ‘them’ often being immigrants, undocumented people, Muslims, homosexuals, socialists and communists (to name a few). Tea Party members often stress the importance of America’s ‘Protestant origins’ and oftentimes suggest that the Founders never intended to separate church and state. Tea Party members often attack Islam as being ‘un-democratic’ and antithetical to ‘American values’. Tea Party members often accuse Barack Obama, who is not ‘American enough’, of being a ‘secret Muslim’ because his middle name is Hussein and he spent time growing up in countries with Muslims. Tea Party members also spread the conspiracy that the Muslim Brotherhood has infiltrated the American government and that Americans will soon be dominated by the tyranny of ‘Islamists’ like the Muslim Brotherhood.
The rhetoric between these two parties is eerily similar.
The Know Nothing Party eventually became irrelevant, perhaps because too many Americans looked beyond their unproductive rhetoric of racism and discrimination.
Time will only tell if the Tea Party experiences a similar fate.