- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 18, 2010

ANALYSIS/OPINION

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People last week approved a resolution condemning a fringe element of the “tea party” movement for “explicitly racist behavior.” It would require a flow chart the likes of which have not been seen since the days of health care reform to explain all of the ways this is wrong.

For starters, the mere act of criticizing a black president is not racist. Nor is it racist to raise the public consciousness to the very important issues of spiraling debt, misguided bailouts and a series of social policies that may bankrupt the country. Our nation benefits from uninhibited discussion about these serious issues.

Very simply, when movements - tea party or others - openly debate these issues, the truth rises. When the NAACP labels and dismisses tea party activists as racists, it has a chilling effect on this important debate. As a result, the national dialogue is stifled.

It is sad that the nation’s oldest and most revered civil rights organization has been so co-opted by Democrats who use the racism epithet to chill political discussion, rather than engage opposing viewpoints on the merits. Please understand, I have the utmost respect for the NAACP. But I cannot ignore the simple fact that the issues supported by the tea party relate principally to smaller government, lower taxes, less government debt, enforcing the immigration laws and more individual freedom.

These issues have nothing to do with abridging the rights and dignity of black Americans. By pretending otherwise, the NAACP has willingly allowed itself to be co-opted by the Democratic Party. Even more alarming, it risks turning the word “racist” into a proxy for “someone whose politics you disagree with.”

Will the NAACP also condemn the blatant civil rights violations of the New Black Panther Party when, during the 2008 elections, it engaged in wanton voter intimidation? Since when has appearing at a voting precinct, brandishing weapons and hurling epithets at voters not been something the NAACP stands up against? Perhaps when those voters are white?

Or what about Black Panther comments regarding the need to kill “cracker” (i.e. “white”) babies? How can any rational American not see such comments as racially motivated, yet have the utter gall to condemn the tea party movement?

I have in the past, and will continue today, to support the NAACP when the organization is true to its founding principles - to root out racism and fight individuals and groups that marginalize Americans of color. When the organization has held to those high, moral standards, it has no equal. By the same token, the very legitimacy of the storied group is questioned when it singles out groups not because they exhibit racist tendencies, but because they simply disagree with the legislative agenda of the NAACP.

The tea party is neither racist nor bigoted, and the leadership at the NAACP knows as much. Even early drafts of its resolution struggled with how to describe exactly what was offensive about the movement beyond just labeling tea party enthusiasts as “racist.” And if that weren’t enough proof, barely 24 hours after the resolution was adopted, the movement’s leader emeritus - the Rev. Jesse Jackson - distanced himself from the manifesto and called on his brethren to do the same. At a time when so many other issues such as joblessness press against the black man, Mr. Jackson argued, can’t we do better than a statement condemning a group that everyone knows we stand against?

What does it mean when the resolution wanted to say something could evolve from tea party actions and “and become more dangerous for that small percentage of people that really think our country has been taken away from them?” A “small percentage?”

What polls has the NAACP leadership been reading? This sentiment of frustration and utter disgust with our government is pervasive and pandemic.

Small or not, this resolution was about one thing, and it’s not an “ism.” Instead, it’s four-square about the 2010 elections. In fact, I wager that this resolution’s choreography can be traced all the way back to the White House itself.

The clues are there. For the first time in American history, an American black man sits in the Oval Office. The NAACP wouldnt dare jeopardize that relationship with some half-cocked idea to condemn a loosely aligned, nascent political faction. To do so would seemingly elevate the tea party movement while simultaneously downgrading a group as powerful as the NAACP.

No, this resolution was premeditated, with the silent but deliberate pushing of those within the administration who would like nothing better than to keep its own fracturing coalition together while tearing the president’s opponents asunder.

The currency of 2010’s midterm elections is votes - something the Democratic Party needs, and lots of them. A resolution of this weak caliber was designed for one thing - to foment the bitterness of the common black man. To play into the worst fears of minorities, real or perceived, and to set up an antebellum “whitey” in the form of tea party activists so those enslaved on the plantation will want to grab their plowshares and storm the manor. That’s such tired and sick racial politics.

- Armstrong Williams is heard Mondays through Fridays on Sirius/XM Power 169 from 7-8 p.m. and 4-5 a.m.

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