Newsweek: Are Tea Partiers Racist?
Politico: Tea Party "expulsion" reveals new rifts.
The recent childish bickering between the Tea Party and the NAACP has been interesting to watch, not because I think either of these groups are really relevant, but moreso because the issue of racism in America is a touchy subject at best, and one that has been shoved into a dark corner since equal protection under the law was implemented.
My personal philosophy on race is that we are naturally apprehensive of those different from ourselves, but regular contact with other races very quickly leads to acceptance. I believe that impediments to racial tolerance are mostly the results of parenting and the xenophobic "wisdom" of the older generations in general, and only because they have been alive long enough to remember even older prejudices that used to rule our society. I see it as a sort of backwards domino effect--as time goes on, racial prejudices will be passed down less and less through each new generation, and soon the problem of racism will be nonexistent. The only catch is that human beings are always looking for a new target for hate, for example, large-scale race issues have died down since the 1960s, but now we have more discrimination and hatred against gays. Such is life.
Back to the point: the NAACP threw the first stone, calling out the Tea Party on the racist phrases used both on their protest placards as well as in verbal jeers directed at minority politicians. I agree with the NAACP on this--if you take the racism out of the Tea Party you can dig down deep and find their one true political platform: they dislike paying taxes. Quite a profound philosophy indeed. Next, the Tea Party came back with the retort that it was in fact the NAACP who were the racist ones, explicitly excluding whites and other racial groups while referring to themselves as "colored", an old-fashioned term considered by many to be a racial slur. Although I can understand why African-Americans still harbor animosity toward whites, surprisingly, I must say that I agree with the Tea Party on this one! There's a first time for everything I suppose, but to discredit the TP, many other people were on this bandwagon long before the Tea Party was even around. And so the "he said-she said" battle commenced.
But how is it possible for both groups to be racist? Very simply put, the two groups are attacking each other for the same reasons and not really realizing it. Neither of the groups' public platforms or agendas include racist acts, and yet in both groups, a significant amount of their members, and often times the leaders, engage in bigoted speech and activity or simply allude to a racist attitude. A good way to clear this up would be for both the leaders to come out publicly and say, "This group encourages full acceptance of all people, and any racist activity by a member of this group will simply not be tolerated". Obviously neither of them are going to do this, because the truth is that they KNOW what kinds of things are going on in their rank-and-file, and excluding ALL the racists would significantly lower their number of supporters. But the symbolism in this lies in how silly both organizations are being--and in the public eye too! Underneath the bickering, the point is that there is no logical reason to resent members of another race, only childish finger-pointing and age-old hatred passed along by generations past. Perhaps eventually they will realize that if you bring a bunch of racists together for a common purpose, odds are someone is eventually going to figure out what you are doing, and call you out on your intolerance. I thought this was obvious but it seems these two orgs are just learning.
This battle began about a week ago. So what's the score now? To my extreme delight, it seems to be NAACP 2, Tea Party 1, as a certain TP leader brought the fight to Sacramento, my humble abode. Former radio personality and now former leader of the capital city's "Tea Party Express" made national headlines on July 14th when he posted a blog entry containing a mock letter addressed to late president Abraham Lincoln, from "colored people". The letter was completely tasteless, conveying a message that "colored people" didn't like working for the system and instead would prefer to be un-emancipated in order to stay on welfare forever. Williams was "expelled" from his leadership position by the National Tea Party Federation after the post went viral, and while he calls is satire, it's obviously a slap in the face to African-American culture, and the biggest First Amendment fail I've seen in a long, long time. Read the full letter here and see for yourself.
Racism is a sad reality. I really hope my theory is correct and it will eventually "trickle out" of our society's consciousness. Until then, I'm gonna grab some popcorn, kick back, and watch these two organizations tear each other apart!