Tea Party spokesperson Mark Williams claims NAACP are the real bigots.

Tea Partiers are good at reminding us why resolutions such as the one passed by the NAACP on Tuesday condemning racist elements of the Tea Party are needed. A revisionist sense of history and a complete denial of how racism works in the United States has led to the current political mindset of the Tea Party set. While the Tea Party is denying racism within their ranks, it is pretty clear they are bonafide race baiters. (Think: Obama not a citizen??)
Mark Williams, national spokesman for the Tea Party Express said,

“You’re dealing with people who are professional race-baiters, who make a very good living off this kind of thing. They make more money off of race than any slave trader ever. It’s time groups like the NAACP went to the trash heap of history where they belong with all the other vile racist groups that emerged in our history,” Williams said.

Um, seriously? Can we get some numbers to back this up? Anyone that denies the financial, social and cultural impacts of the slave trade and has the audacity to compare it to the work of civil rights groups is denying that racism has the impact it does. Making a statement like that is racist and Williams is their spokesperson, so I’m not really buying the “we don’t tolerate racism in the Tea Party,” line.

The question remains is NAACP’s resolution enough to draw attention to the blatant racism of the Tea Party or do we need more? Sally Kohn suggests we might need a little more,

So, do I agree with the NAACP resolution? Absolutely. With two caveats. First, it’s pretty safe for the NAACP to indeed play to its base with this (still relatively tame and incontrovertible) resolution. But what I’d really like to see are white liberal organizations take the same level of responsibility to call out racism in the Tea Party as well as throughout the political and social sphere — left and right, by the way — and be strong advocates for racial justice. There are a few examples of white groups and leaders doing this but nearly enough. Second, I do think that the NAACP is clearly drawing on the Tea Party’s current publicity to activate NAACP membership and generate attention and energy for the organization’s efforts at revitalization. That’s understandable, but it’s emblematic of a general trend on the left right now to jealously ogle at the seemingly vast and energetic Tea Party on the right while bemoaning the ossified, stale, centralized organizations on the left that are vestiges of vibrant movements of the past but lack that character today.


Join the Conversation

  • Comrade Kevin

    It is a safe statement, but one that seems unlikely to be backed up by anything forthcoming.
    For a long time we’ve talked about why the Left can’t mobilize the way the Right has done so successfully. The Obama Campaign in 2008 was the last real expression of this, and that was in some ways due to a cult of personality. No single person pushes the Tea Party, which is the definition of grassroots, at least in my book.
    I suppose the thing to do would be to form our own organizations, as we’ve done here. The stuff I’ve tried to do in Quaker circles is often frustrated by an unwieldy, creaky system comprised largely of baby boomers. And beyond that, if I start any new imitative, regardless of what it is, I insist upon one central thing—this is not going to be a committee.

  • fashionablyevil

    Those numbers don’t even come close to passing the sniff test. The NCAAP’s current annual budget is about $20m. The NAACP was founded in 1909. So assuming the NAACP had a constant budget over time, that’s $2b total over the last 100 years. In 1860, there were 4 million slaves in America. Assuming that the market value of their labor was $30,000 per person per year, and that 3/4 of them were old enough to work, that’s $90b.
    So, $2b over 100 years versus $90b over 1 year? I’m totally seeing the equivalence there…

  • Bridgette

    Yesterday, I wrote this. We Are All Our Sister’s and Brother’s Keeper
    The gist of this is, there are bigots, racists and homophobes/transphobes in the Tea Party (and the LGBT Movement), but the fact that the Tea Party denies they exist only legitimizes those people and makes all members of the Tea Party bigots, even those who are not bigots. The LGBT Community is beginning to address its internal problems, but the Tea Party is saying “what problems?”

  • daveNYC

    “They make more money off of race than any slave trader ever.”
    I suspect that if you adjust for inflation than that isn’t true. Even if it is though, they’re really kind of missing the point. One could just as easily miss the point and say that the ADL is more obsessed with anti-semitism than the Nazis ever were.

  • WIDave

    Racist: one of the few words that can be affixed to a person or group without any evidence and will stick like glue.
    How would the Tea Party go about getting rid of that label if they believe they are not a racist group? If there is evidence of racism they could, perhaps, refute the evidence. If there is no evidence to refute, there is no way for them to defend themselves in the court of public opinion (mostly the main-stream media) against the charge of racism.
    The Wikipedia link about Obama’s citizenship doesn’t mention the Tea Party. It is not a driving force for them. The quote from Williams was a poor comparison for him to make, but I wouldn’t call it racist. The Washington Post has 24 pictures of the latest Tea Party rally in DC on their website. There is not one sign in any of those pictures that could be called blatantly racist.
    Are there racists in the Tea Party? I am sure there are. I am sure there are racists in the NAACP. Any group that gets large enough is sure to have bigots of some kind among the membership. It is a human flaw.

  • Allegra

    Just because you don’t believe that you are a racist does not mean that you are not a racist, lets be honest here the Tea party agenda is about taking the power for white people who feel threatened. They don’t have to have blatantly racist signs or speeches, its in their overall actions and over all point of view that is racist, sexist, homophobic and classist.
    This in not to say that racism and the like does not exist in other groups because it does. But GLBT groups and woman groups and groups like the NAACP don’t try to cut off rights too everyone but themselves… that is the real scary part about the tea party, they think they are the only one who deserve rights.

  • pokemontaco.wordpress.com

    You’re making a pretty weird assumption about the market value of year’s labor :/ What kind of work do you think most slaves were doing? It wouldn’t pay $30,000 even today.
    Although it seems like they’re talking about money made selling slaves, not money made off of their labor.

  • WIDave

    You missed the point in a number of areas.
    “…Tea party agenda is about taking the power for white people who feel threatened.” No. The Tea Party never makes skin color a basis for the stands they take on issues. The two main stands they take are for smaller and more limited government and lower taxes.
    “…their overall actions and over all point of view that is racist, sexist, homophobic and classist.” If you are going to make that kind of assertion, there has to be some strong evidence.
    “…they think they are the only one who deserve rights.” No, because smaller and more limited government means more rights for everyone.
    The main point I was trying to make that you didn’t address at all was this: It is impossible to disprove racism. In my own humble opinion, that accusation has been increasingly thrown around by people and organizations that do not have legitimate and logical arguments to debate but still wish to discredit those with differing opinions.

  • Becca

    Did you see the other part of the Tea Party’s response?
    It’s a fake letter to Abraham Lincoln, from “The Colored People,” with choice racist phrases basically saying that the NAACP disagrees with the Tea Party because of their own laziness.
    “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?”
    The quotes are like, all that bad. Or worse.