NAACP Leader says Some Members are Hate Group Leaders
By Linn Washington Jr., Special to the NNPA from The Philadelphia Tribune –
The controversial resolution issued by the NAACP this past summer calling out racism within the ranks of the tea party produced surprising results within that raging political/social movement, according to the head of America’s oldest civil rights organization, Benjamin Jealous.
The national tea party ejected Mark Williams, the chairman of the pivotal Tea Party Express, for making outrageously racist remarks, another important tea party entity issued an anti-racist statement and that movement began showcasing persons of color at its events often adorned with racist and anti-Semitic signage, reactions the NAACP leader sees as “small” but salient steps. However, according to Jealous, the tea party still harbors dangerous racists within it leadership ranks.
Jealous made these observations on Wednesday when his organization released an extensive report on tea party activities across America, which documented the leadership roles of individuals in that movement who also hold leadership posts in virulent white supremacist and pro-Nazi organizations. The “Tea Party Nationalism” report provides over a dozen examples of hate group leaders holding leadership posts in tea party factions.
The report cited people like Roan Garcia-Quintana of South Carolina who recently joined the board of America’s largest white nationalist group the Council of Conservative Citizens, Texas tea party official Karen Pack who is closely aligned with the KKK, Florida tea partier Peter Gemma who is a staunch Anti-Semite, and Larry Pratt of Virginia, the executive director of Gun Owners of America who frequently solicits support from the pro-Nazi Aryan Nation.
“Tea Party Nationalism,” prepared by the Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights, debunks many of the positions advanced by this overwhelmingly white, politically conservative, Republican-leaning movement, like party claims that its sole concentration is lowering budget deficits, taxes and federal government power.
Tea party ranks remain “permeated with concerns about race, and national identity and other so-called social issues,” the report states in its introduction. This party’s “storied opposition to political and social elites turns out to be predicated on an antagonism to federal assistance to those deemed the “undeserving poor.”
Crediting the tea party with resuscitating “the ultra-conservative win of American political life,” the report criticizes the tea party for having had “a devastating impact on thoughtful policy making for the common good, both at the local and state as well as at the federal levels.”
During the teleconference with reporters announcing release of the report, A. Elena Lacayo of the National Council of La Raza, a Hispanic civil rights organization, said “This report shows how extremist groups try to take advantage of other groups to advance their agendas.” Citing the recent beating death of a Latino man and the ugly anti-immigrant climate sparked by tea party candidates and their media supporters, Lacayo reminded “hateful words have hateful consequences.”
The NAACP’s Jealous carefully noted that neither the report nor the civil rights organization consigns all tea party members to the category of racist. “Most tea party members are sincere and of good will. We do not have a problem with the tea party’s right to exist. We have a problem when a majority of its members stand silent when they see racism,” said Jealous, an Ivy League graduate and Rhodes Scholar. “For the past 100 years, the NAACP has challenged the Republican and Democratic parties on the issue of racism and now we challenge the tea party to stand for inclusion and basic civility.”
The “Tea Party Nationalism” report examining instances of extremism and intolerance in that movement’s six most active organizations, produced denunciations from tea party officials, including one who termed it a cheap political shot attempting to “tie crazy people together with a movement that is not about what these people are about.”
Prominent Black tea party member Lloyd Marcus blasted the NAACP and the report on his blog yesterday. “All of the racism is coming from the Obama camp,” claimed Marcus, president of the National Association for the Advancement of Conservative People of Color (NAACPC), contending he’s never seen or heard overt racism while attending more than 200 tea party events nationwide. “We tea party patriots are opposing Obama’s socialist agenda, not his skin color.”