Last night the NAACP passed a resolution condemning racist factions within the Tea Party Movement. The question is not why, but why it took so long. From the outset, the TPM focused on uncertainty and fear for America’s future, particularly in the areas of taxation and right to bear arms. This in and of itself would have been no problem. Rhetoric on these issues can get heated without any reference to race or the use of racial caricatures in posters. Unfortunately a small minority of Tea Party protesters have used this understandable unrest as an excuse to further their racist agenda.
The posters displayed at the rallies spoke volumes. The one that stands out for me was a poster placing an “African lion” next to a “Lyin’ African”, a reference to President Obama. Any responsible political movement would publicly repudiate these displays. The Tea Party and its sponsors (e.g. Dick Armey) have not. Any protest movement would screen which posters are being used in protests. The Tea Party has maintained a come-one, come-all attitude with no concern that an otherwise legitimate message might get poisoned by bigotry.
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Although the final text of the NAACP resolution has not yet been released, it is supposed to be very specific in its criticism of the Tea Party’s lack of repudiation for racist expression. It is not a condemnation of the Tea Party as a whole.
Ironically, with the exception of the occasional bonehead birther supporting politician (David Vitter, I’m talking to you), the heavy racial overtones of the Tea Party have simmered down somewhat recently. Politicians like Nikki Haley accept the embrace of the Tea Party but do not cross the line into racially charged rhetoric. So why has the NAACP chosen now to speak out?
There is a concept in the black community known as “CP time” which stands for “colored people time”. It is a reference to the stereotype that we cannot get anywhere on time, that we are late to everything. Hence, the only conclusion to be drawn is that we must operate on our own special timetable.
I’m sorry Ben Jealous and the rest of the NAACP membership, when it comes to protesting Tea Party racism, you folks are seriously on CP time!