It was not all that long ago that the likes for Georgia Gov. Lester Maddox, Sheriff and one-time Democratic National Committeeman for the State of Alabama Theophilus “Bull” Connor and others garnered national attention through their attacks on the civil rights movement. One frequently used tactic by the movement’s critics was to seize on isolated incidents and the outrageous behavior and statements of some of its activists to brand everyone associated with it as subversive, dangerous, and un-American.
This use of a broad brush approach to discredit didn’t work then--and it shouldn’t work now. Yet the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People will, at its national meeting currently underway in Kansas City, Mo., attempt to make use of this very same tactic when it votes on a resolution condemning the racist element in the Tea Party movement.
You would think they would know better.
According to a report from ABC News, the anti-Tea Party sentiment is a major component of the meeting. "We're deeply concerned about elements that are trying to move the country back, trying to reverse progress that we've made," NAACP spokeswoman Leila McDowell told the network. "We are asking that the law-abiding members of the Tea Party repudiate those racist elements, that they recognize the historic and present racist elements that are within the Tea Party movement."
Having attended a number of Tea Party events in the nation’s capital, I can say that I have not seen what McDowell apparently has. To listen to her take one must conclude that the so-called “racist elements” constitute a major portion of the whole. Outside of a few followers of political gadfly Lyndon LaRouche, who no one does or should take seriously and who are just along for the ride just like they are at any mass political gathering, the Tea Partyers are pushing back against the Obama administration on behalf of a taxed too-much middle class concerned about the future of their country.
The Tea Partyers’ opposition to President Barack Obama’s agenda for America has nothing to do with race. It has everything to do, however, with legitimate concerns about the size and scope of government, the dramatic increase in U.S. federal indebtedness that has occurred in just this one year and a sense that Washington is broken and desperately in need of repair.
Any messages and individual statements that crossed the line have already been repudiated by most everyone who could be considered a leader in the Tea Party movement as well as by many in the rank-and-file. The NAACP’s resolution, therefore, is little more than piling on.
The idea that the Tea Party is even concerned with racial issues is nothing less than a cynical attempt to discredit them in the eyes of the American people who are, for the moment, watching with interest but not participating. And it’s an idea being driven by those who want to see the Democrats keep control of the White House and the Congress for the foreseeable future. The idea that the Tea Party movement is about anything else is being given, by the media and now by the NAACP far more attention than is warranted.