The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) on Tuesday unanimously adopted a resolution at its national convention in Kansas City condemning the tea-party movement as — guess what? — racist. This is false, outrageous, and no surprise. The NAACP is like a talking G.I. Joe doll with a cord coiled in his back. Pull it, and G.I. Joe says something manly and combative. Pull the NAACP’s string. “Racism!” squawks the shopworn voice. Pull it again. “Bigotry!” it squeals, as it has so many times before.
The NAACP was totally justified when it decried the racism and bigotry that the Jim Crow South’s Democrat-led governments mandated by law. In 2010, however, screaming “racism” sounds increasingly delusional, given that America is governed by a black man whom voters comfortably elected in November 2008 and wished well, largely across the political spectrum, on Inauguration Day 2009.
The NAACP’s original resolution sought to “repudiate the racism of the Tea Parties” and combat their supposed efforts to “push our country back to the pre-civil rights era.” This statement reportedly was toned down, although it was debated behind closed doors and will remain unseen until the NAACP’s board approves it in October.
If the tea-party movement really is fueled by bias, why did they invite a black man like me to address one of the first tea parties in Washington, D.C., on February 26, 2009? Why would these alleged racists invite me to rally an even bigger tea party in Manhattan on July 1, 2009? Did prejudice inspire them to let David Webb, a black man, organize that Times Square event, and also run the New York Tea Party? Did racial insensitivity lead the tea party to showcase Congress of Racial Equality national spokesman Niger Innis, Project 21’s Deneen Borelli, and other black conservatives and free-marketeers?
“In March, respected members of the Congressional Black Caucus reported that racial epithets were hurled at them as they passed by a Washington, DC health care protest,” the NAACP’s website states. “Civil rights legend John Lewis was called the ‘n-word’ in the incident.”
Americans still await video footage and/or audiotape that proves these oft-repeated accusations. Reps. Lewis (D., Ga.) and Andre Carson (D., Ind.) were encircled by TV cameras, radio-news gear, cellphone cameras, and other recording devices. To date, none of them has yielded any sound or image of anybody lobbing racial insults. If such comments actually were uttered, the NAACP and its leftist allies would have played them over and over and over to embarrass and humiliate Republicans, conservatives, and the allegedly racist tea-party movement. In fact, no one has claimed conservative activist Andrew Breitbart’s $100,000 bounty for any documentary proof that these supposed race bombs ever were tossed at their targets.
On July 13, Fox News Channel’s Sean Hannity played video footage from four different news cameras that captured the exact moment last March 20 when Representative Carson says “maybe fifteen people” yelled “n-word fifteen times” as he walked outside the U.S. Capitol. “They started surrounding us,” he added, referring to himself, Representative Lewis, and Lewis’s chief of staff. “It was like a page out of a time machine.”
None of the four videotapes shows anything resembling Carson’s scenario.
“The camera never blinks,” newsman Dan Rather once wrote. It does not hallucinate, either.
Some have accused the tea-party movement of being racist just because its huge crowds are mainly white. By that measure, the NAACP should organize a boycott of the New York Philharmonic. I attended its delightful concert in Central Park on Tuesday evening. George Gershwin’s beautiful “Rhapsody in Blue” might as well have been “Rhapsody in White.” Scanning the thousands of faces on the Great Lawn, I spotted only a handful of black ones. What a racist orchestra!
Yes, the tea party’s events feature few black faces. This is true at most center-right gatherings. The unfortunate fact is that black Americans tend to be liberal Democrats. President Obama won some 95 percent of the black vote. It should shock no one that those who reject most of Obama’s agenda would attract few of his most ardent supporters. Thus, the tea-party movement is no more racist than an Easter dinner is anti-Semitic because so few Jews show up to eat ham and venerate Jesus of Nazareth.
Some tea-party critics have complained that it is racist to show President Obama as the Joker from the Batman movie The Dark Knight, a racially neutral character. If so, wasn’t it racist for President Bush’s opponents to depict him as a clown named Ronald McMurderer?
The North Iowa Tea Party recently took things too far by associating Obama with Adolf Hitler and V. I. Lenin in a just-removed billboard that other tea-party activists have already denounced. Rough? Yes. Inappropriate? Yes. Racist? No.
Again, it was wrong, but not racist, for the Left’s MoveOn.org to equate Bush with Hitler in a notorious Internet commercial. Where was the NAACP on that matter?
The now-defunct leftish magazine Emerge depicted Supreme Court justice Clarence Thomas as a lawn jockey. Why did the NAACP not scream “racism” when Justice Thomas’s detractors went beyond criticizing his decisions and instead deployed one of the hoariest racial stereotypes against Thomas?
Consider the tea party’s Contract from America. Among ten planks, it advocates a single-rate tax, a two-thirds-vote requirement for tax hikes, Obamacare’s repeal, and the defeat of cap-and-trade legislation. Nothing in it is even remotely related to race, ethnicity, or identity. Wouldn’t bigots devote at least one of ten reforms to something racial?
The tea-party movement avoids racial issues and instead advances lower taxes and spending and greater fiscal discipline. These issues are neither black nor white. They are green.
— New York commentator Deroy Murdock is a nationally syndicated columnist with the Scripps Howard News Service and a media fellow with the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace at Stanford University.