Wednesday, July 21, 2010

NAACP Convention Calls Out Racist Tea Party Members

NAACP Convention Calls Out Racist Tea Party Members

Corporate-backed right-wing groups must not go unchallenged

By Abayomi Azikiwe
Editor, Pan-African News Wire

At the annual convention of the National Association for the
Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) held in Kansas City during the week of July 12, the nation’s largest civil rights organization went on record through a resolution condemning the racist elements within the right-wing Tea Party movement.

The resolution was approved on July 13 and affirmed that the NAACP
“calls on the tea party and all people of good will to repudiate the
racist element and activities within the tea party,” according to
Hilary Shelton, who heads the Washington bureau of the organization.

At rallies and through statements by tea party leaders,
racially-motivated claims and epithets have been advanced to
characterize President Barack Obama, African American political
officials in the U.S. Congress, members of the LGBTQ community,
immigrants, women’s rights activists and others who are perceived as liberals, progressives and socialists.

In a July 14 Christian Science Monitor article on the NAACP convention it states that “Charges of racism have surfaced in the past, largely in response to individuals at tea party meetings making comments or displaying signs that minority groups find offensive. Some African-American lawmakers, including Rep. John Lewis (D) of Georgia, a hero of the civil rights movement, have said that tea party activists yelled racial epithets or spat at them as they arrived at
the Capital for the final vote on health-care reform legislation in
March.” (CSM, July 14)

In response to the passage of the resolution by the NAACP, high
profile tea party members and supporters dismissed the allegations of racism as false. Former Alaskan Governor and Republican Vice-Presidential candidate in 2008, Sarah Palin, who is a darling of the right-wing group, issued a statement saying that she was “saddened by the NAACP’s claim that patriotic Americans…are somehow racists.” (CSM, July 14)

Nonetheless, the increasing criticism of the tea party for racism has
contributed to ongoing internal tensions and factionalism within the
right-wing movement. The leader of one of the more extreme elements of the movement, the Tea Party Express, was expelled in mid-July by another faction, the National Tea Party Federation, for racist comments made in response to the NAACP convention resolution.

David Webb, a spokesman for the National Tea Party Federation,
appeared on the CBS news program “Face the Nation” on July 18 where he announced the expulsion of the rival Tea Party Express.

Mark Williams, who heads the Tea Party Express that coordinates
Republican Party-financed tours across the U.S., stated on National
Public Radio that the NAACP makes “more money off of race than any slave trader.” (FoxNews.com, July 19) Williams, who has spoken of Muslims in disparaging terms as well, also placed a satirical letter
on his website parodying NAACP President Ben Jealous in a fictional
letter to Abraham Lincoln requesting the re-instatement of chattel
slavery.

Tea Party and Right-wing Seek to Cause Political Confusion

The right-wing tea party movement in the United States is attempting
to cause confusion and promote division amid the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. Utilizing racism and other forms of
bigotry, the assortment of neo-fascist groupings place the blame for
the worsening conditions faced by working class and middle-class
people in the U.S. on the Obama administration and its purported
“socialist” policies.

The fact that Obama is the first African American president in the
United States does not sit well with many whites in the conservative
political camp. The Southern Poverty Law Center has issued numerous reports over the last two years indicating that there has been a rise in racist and far-right groups throughout the country.

Yet the rise of these groups can be heavily attributed to the role of
the corporate media which promotes the tea party as a legitimate and rapidly growing political tendency within the U.S. Various tea party leaders and politicians have called for the repeal of the 1964 Civil Rights Act claiming that the bill, which grew out of the mass
struggles of the 1950s and 1960s, is unconstitutional.

The tea party was featured in the right-wing attempts to disrupt
public hearings around the Obama-sponsored health care plan that was passed by the Congress this year. Its role was to strip away any
notion of a universal right to health care for people living in the
U.S.

In mid-July a billboard sponsored by the North Iowa Tea Party linking
President Obama to German fascist Chancellor Adolph Hitler and the
leader of the Russian Revolution V.I. Lenin drew sharp criticism from
throughout the country. The billboard showed photographs of all three men with the labels “National Socialism” over Hitler, “Democrat
Socialism” over Obama and “Marxist Socialism” over V. I. Lenin.

Underneath the photographs there is the phrase “Radical Leaders Prey On The Fearful & Na├»ve.” The co-founder of the 200-member group Bob Johnson said the billboard was intended to send an anti-socialist message to the public but the intent was lost through the provocative imagery.

Yet the differences between socialism, fascism and capitalist
democracy are blurred in such an assertion. The Obama administration is by no means socialist and has upheld the right of banks and oil companies to continue their practices that have contributed to the current economic decline in the U.S. and around the world.

It was the socialist Soviet Union during World War II that sacrificed
the most people in the struggle to defeat fascism in Europe. The false notions of Obama being a socialist and a fascist seek to fuel racism and anti-communist hysteria in the U.S.

It is the obligation of progressive publications to expose the
right-wing for their divisive politics as well as provide clarity on
what socialism really is and why this social system provides the only
viable alternative to capitalism and imperialism that is destroying
the planet and its people.

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