The NAACP vs The Tea Party
The tea party and the National Advancement for the Association of Colored People (NAACP) have been accusing each other of racism for the past week. This dust up started about a week ago when the leaders of the NAACP approved a resolution accusing tea party activists of tolerating racist elements in their movement. NAACP President Ben Jealous said that if the tea party wants to be respected and wants to be part of the mainstream in this country, they have to take responsibility.
Members of the tea party and other conservatives trying to court these people quickly shot back with their own claims that the NAACP is itself racist and irrelevant. Mark Meckler of the Tea Party Patriots said in an interview that it was a little ironic that an organization that has lost legitimacy through its own racism is trying to call the tea party racist.
Mark Williams, leader of the Tea Party Express, took things a step further saying that the NAACP is an organization of professional race baiters who make a very good living off racial tension. They make more money off issues of race than any slave trader ever. According to Mr. Williams, it is time for groups like the NAACP to go to the trash heap of history where they belong along with all the other vile, racist groups that emerged in our history. In an interview with CNN, Mr. Williams referred to the NAACP as a bunch of old fossils looking to make a buck off skin color.
Phillip Dennis, founder of the Dallas Tea Party, said in an interview with FOX News said that the NAACP was irrelevant and should have ended fifty years ago. Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele said the NAACP should stop name calling.
The brazen contempt some people in the tea party have for the NAACP is truly thick enough to the point of being tangible. The tea party’s vitriolic counter attack on the NAACP is truly the wrong message from an organization that encourages its members to hold placards accusing President Barack Obama of not being an American citizen, signs referring to Mr. Obama as a lying African, and other signs that depict the President as an African witch doctor. Not as prevalent but still seen at tea party rallies were effigies of the President as a monkey or as Curious George eating a banana and banners implying that a black man doesn’t belong in the White House, amongst other things.
One thing that truly resonates with me is the fact that so many people who campaign with the tea party’s blessing will come out and say that we need to tolerate racism and discrimination in our social collective. I do believe I heard tea party favorite Rand Paul say that he believes it is not our government’s responsibility to assure that businesses keep their racist and discriminatory practices in check. It is the right of the racist to practice racism. And this is a man who can conceivably go to our nation’s capital and make laws protecting the rights of people who are racist to deny services and products to a portion of our community.
To accuse the NAACP of being little more than an organization of race baiters does nothing to help calm the situation down. In fact, it only stokes the fear and suspicion on both sides of the issue. The NAACP has long been an advocate of the black community, a community that does not feel any positive political connection to the tea party movement. The NAACP has fought for the civil rights of minorities while some tea party candidates promise to do what they can to keep government from helping to enforce civil rights and fair treatment for all.
There may be people within the NAACP who harbor prejudices against white people. But I seriously doubt if they are running for political office at the national level and promising to do what they can to make the open display of racism part and parcel of the American landscape. Whatever perception of racism by people within the NAACP may exist, it is clearly no threat to white people. It is an empty threat. The same cannot be truthfully said by people who may want to indulge racism within the tea party.
Tea party leadership will brazenly display contempt for black people. Mark Williams of the Tea Party Express escalated tensions and rhetoric when he penned a satirical letter under the name of NAACP President Ben Jealous to Abraham Lincoln and posted it on his organization’s web site. After a series of revisions, forced by people who were outraged by Mr. Williams’ rather special sense of race baiting humor, the letter was pulled off completely. Here it is in its original entirety. It should be noted that there is nothing on any NAACP web site that is even remotely offensive to people who support the tea party. In fact, just asking people in the tea party to reject such things is too offensive to some tea partiers.
It should also be noted that the National Tea party Federation has disassociated itself from Mr. Williams’ Tea Party Express. Isn’t that an example of what the NAACP resolution asked for in the first place?
Dear Mr. Lincoln:
We Colored People have taken a vote and decided that we don’t cotton to that whole emancipation thing. Freedom means having to work for real, think for ourselves, and take consequences along with the rewards. That is just far too much to ask of us Colored People and we demand that it stop!
In fact we held a big meeting and took a vote in Kansas City this week. We voted to condemn a political revival of that old abolitionist spirit called the ‘tea party movement’.
Perhaps the most racist point of all in the tea parties is their demand that government “stop raising our taxes.” That is outrageous! How will we Colored People ever get a wide screen TV in every room if non-coloreds get to keep what they earn? Totally racist! The tea party expects coloreds to be productive members of society?
Mr. Lincoln, you were the greatest racist ever. We had a great gig. Three squares, room and board, all our decisions made by the massa in the house. Please repeal the 13th and 14th Amendments and let us get back to where we belong.
Precious Ben Jealous, Tom’s Nephew
National Association for the Advancement of Colored People
Head Colored Person