Is the Tea Party Racist? The NAACP thinks so. Sarah Palin does not, nor does Vice President Joe Biden.
"I wouldn't characterize the Tea Party as racist," Biden said on ABC's Sunday morning political show "This Week." But "there are individuals who are either members of or on the periphery of some of their things, their -- their protests -- that have expressed really unfortunate comments."
Hmmm...I'm not sure what Biden means by "unfortunate comments." Is he referring to reports by black legislators that Tea Party activists hurled racial epithets at them? Is he referring to the posters created by Tea Party members depicting President Obama as a jungle savage? How about Tea Party members' persistent claims that Obama isn't a U.S. citizen because they just can't accept that a black guy with a funny name is running the country? If Biden is referring to any of these occurrences, it's difficult to understand why he doubts the group is racist. In fact, the New York Daily News is informally polling readers about whether they believe racism's to blame for the Tea Party's attacks on Obama. As of July 18, an overwhelming 75% of respondents agree that racism is at play in the Tea Party's disapproval of the president.
I think the public has seen too many racist posters at Tea Party rallies to write off the group members who carry them as fringe participants. If these so-called fringe members feel comfortable showing up to gatherings with such signs and aren't being reprimanded by others, it's easy to see why the public would get the idea that the Tea Party is a hotbed of racism. Last week, when the NAACP devised a resolution asking "all people of good will to repudiate the racism of the Tea Parties, and to stand in opposition to its drive to push our country back to the pre-civil rights era," it aimed to push conservative leaders to censure the racists in the Tea Party rather than continue blaming "fringe members" for the offensive acts exposed to the public.
Fortunately, the Tea Party leaders appear to have taken the NAACP's resolution seriously. On July 17, the Tea Party ousted Mark Williams, head of the Tea Party Express, for writing a satirical letter posted on his blog in which he referred to blacks as "coloreds." In the letter, the "coloreds" basically ask Abraham Lincoln to rescind their emancipation because slavery was "a great gig," given that they received room and board and a "massa" to make decisions for them.
"Freedom means having to work for real, think for ourselves, and take consequences along with the rewards," Williams reportedly wrote. "That is just far too much to ask of us Colored People and we demand that it stop!"
Whatever Williams and his supporters claim, this letter is racist on a variety of levels. Firstly, Williams referred to African Americans using outdated terminology. He then implied that blacks would prefer the dehumanizing experience of slavery because they don't like to think, make decisions or face consequences.
Well, now Williams is facing a consequence. He's lost his membership to the National Tea Party Federation. I applaud the Tea Party for the decision and encourage them to oust anyone else in the federation who behaves in a blatantly racist manner. If the Tea Party takes no action against such people, what kind of message does that send, not only to groups like the NAACP, but also to the people of color who support the party?