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.