According to NAACP President Ben Jealous, the tea party is chock full of racist people bent on harming African-Americans. Speaking at the organization’s annual convention this week, Jealous let loose on the tea folks: “Here comes the genetic descendent of the White Citizens Council, burst from its coffin, carrying signs and slogans like ‘Lynch Barack Hussein Obama’…”
An exhaustive search of media reportage on the tea parties turns up no mention of signs like that. And even if they existed, is it fair to demonize an entire movement because a few nuts are associated with it?
Does the NAACP want to be evaluated on that basis?
From the beginning of its ascent, the tea party has been targeted by the far left in America. They fear the populist movement because of its small-government philosophy and its successful activism. The cheapest, easiest way to attack any political opponent is to level accusations of bigotry. Almost every conservative broadcaster and columnist in America has been subjected to that.
The NAACP picked a bad time to brand the tea party with the racist label. Recently, the New Black Panther Party has been in the news because the Justice Department declined to prosecute a case in which three of its members apparently intimidated voters at a Philadelphia polling place. One DOJ lawyer even quit his job, saying he was ordered not to pursue the case because it involved race.
In response to the story, a number of New Black Panthers have been shown on TV saying incredibly bigoted things. NBPP member King Samir Shabazz even suggested that black Americans kill white babies. This is on tape. Obviously, racial bigotry cuts both ways.
It is true that there’s a big difference between the tea party and the NBPP. The tea people have quickly become a potent political force in America, while the NBPP is few in number and brain cells. If it were just about the Panthers, the story would be meaningless. But because Attorney General Eric Holder is involved in the dismissal of the criminal charges, the situation takes on some importance.
One of the weaknesses of the NAACP is that it has rarely acknowledged black racism. The organization is silent on the Rev. Jeremiah Wright and Louis Farrakhan. Yet, it is outraged about the tea party. There might be something hypocritical about that.
It is long past time for all Americans to drop the skin color deal. President Obama was smart and correct when he ran as an American, not as an African-American. The president made one misstep — involving himself in the Cambridge police-Harvard professor controversy — but otherwise has steered clear of racial politics.
The NAACP, however, is obviously not as astute as Obama. By saying the tea party members are sympathetic to racism when proof of that is scant, the organization has defined itself as irresponsible. America’s motto continues to be: Out of many, one.
Don’t tread on that.