The past week has seen a heated racial debate arise between members of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and the Tea Party. It began last Tuesday when the NAACP voted to officially condemn the Tea Party leadership’s tolerance of racism within the group. Examples of this include black Rep. John Lewis being spat on by Tea Party supporters as he entered the Capitol for the final vote on health care reform, black Rep. Emanuel Cleaver being called the ‘N-word’ during a Tea Party anti-health care reform protest, and things like the following:
In response to the NAACP’s resolution, Tea Party Express leader Mark Williams told NPR,
We are 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 along with all the other vile, racist groups that emerged in our history.
This sentiment was echoed by Dallas Tea Party founder Phillip Dennis, who told Fox News that the NAACP, an organization that fought segregation, disfranchisement, and lynching, and now provides scholarships and volunteer opportunities to black youth, recognizes outstanding black leaders and cultural figures, and continues to ensure the equality of all, is ‘irrelevant.’
Then, the Tea Party Express’s Mark Williams posted a ‘ satirical’ letter from ‘colored people’ to Abraham Lincoln on his blog, the full text of which appears at the end of this post. To hit some highlights, Williams essentially says that President Lincoln was the worst racist ever for ending slavery because it was a ‘great gig’ for black people, and without it they will have to ‘work for real, think for [them]selves, and take consequences along with the rewards.’ He also asserts that government bailouts are just ‘big money welfare,’ which is what all ‘coloreds’ want anyway.
Now don’t get me wrong, the Urchins love satire. Stephen Colbert, Mock the Week, The Onion; we’re big fans. But I think what Mark Williams meant by ‘satire’ was actually ‘racism.’ And what’s scary is that the National Tea Party Federation, a group that oversees all the various local and regional Tea Party groups, asked the members of the Tea Party Express to fire Williams or risk being kicked out of the Federation, and they would not do so.
That means that there are that many Americans out there who take no issue with what Williams wrote. And the Tea Party Express is no small group. They have already raised $2.3 million this year, and were very influential in electing Sen. Scott Brown in Massachusetts.
But I suppose their loyalty isn’t all that surprising when you consider that Williams has also recently called President Obama an ‘Indonesian Muslim turned welfare thug’ and Islam ‘the terrorists’ monkey-god.’ That he was able to say those things without any repercussions from the National Tea Party Federation pretty clearly shows just how necessary and relevant the NAACP is, for without their public resolution and appeals, it seems obvious that Williams would have continued to say whatever he pleased.
*Notice how the words ‘money’ and ‘association’ are highlighted in this screen capture from Williams’s website? It’s because the whole site is sponsored by insurance companies and every post is littered with links to various insurance quote websites. Classy.