Tea Party Chairman, Mark Williams, was kicked out of his post over the weekend, after he posted a racist blog in response to calling on the Tea Party to purge its ranks of racists. Without going into what Williams said, understand he broke the number one rule of organizations where racists are harbored: “Thou Shalt Not Publicly Speak Our Truths.” The NAACP (and everybody else) would’ve only been able to speculate the ideology of the group had certain acts not occurred.
Listening to provocative speakers (Sarah Palin, Rand Paul) does not a racist organization make. Promulgation of false truths that make up the philosophy of the group and cause the group to act in a certain way (exclude, attack, discriminate) does a racist organization make. When Tea Party members spat on John Lewis prior to the health care vote, shouted the N-word at other black Congress Members and verbally assaulted gay Congressman, Barney Frank, and the crowd refused to give the person up (say who did it), the movement validated the claim that it was harboring racists.
The NAACP called them out at their national convention last week. I know I’ve been hard on the NAACP the past few weeks, but this is the advocacy the NAACP is supposed to be doing. Monitoring racial temperament, responding to legal assault on our constitutional rights and shining their huge spotlight on racial hypocrisy is the NAACP’s job. This chasing talking greeting cards and advocating for recreational marijuana stuff is a bunch of bullsh*t.
The NAACP put their finger on the pulse of the next racial movement in America, hiding in the Tea Party movement. And it is just below the surface. My mom used to say, if you want to know who’s guilty, throw a rock at a bush and watch who jumps out, whether the rock hits ’em or not. The guilty party will scream the loudest, or run the fastest. The NAACP threw the rock, Williams jumped and screamed hard, saying there were no racists in the Tea Party, then wrote racist diatribe that got him booted. It’s the same in any company, government, or social environment. You think what you want to. You can act in unison on your ideology in private setting and in unspoken terms. But once you make it public, that’s a no-no. Racism is not over. But overt racism isn’t readily accepted, just yet.
The Tea Party Express, the counter-populous movement to Obama “Change” populism, is on the verge of taking over the Republican Party as the party seeks to reconstitute its base and its ideology. Their mock dissatisfaction over the state of the country is the baseline of a reconstituted ideology they know the Republican Party needs to listen to. The subtext of their existence, however, is to contain and marginalize President Barack Obama, which is consistent with the Republican Party’s objective of marginalizing the Democratic Party over the next two election cycles.
The biggest core of the Tea Party membership are Southerners, Mid-Westerners, and poor whites who didn’t vote for Barack Obama, and are still shocked that the rest of the country overcame their racial insensibilities to elect a black President. There is no other justification for their persistent objection to anything the President does. But the Tea Party movement was adamant about their cause being about the issues. It’s what racists have claimed for 235 years, that American society is about rights (mainly theirs, everybody else’s can be stepped on) and not about race. It’s why racists wore hoods and sheets in public, and why their powerful societies that controlled political and economic affairs were always secret.
The less you know about what they think, the less you can respond to how they think, even though the social, political and economic outcomes will tell you what they think. No one ever publicly embraced what Strom Thurmond said in 1948 during the “States Rights” Party formation that allowed Harry Truman to win the election. Dixiecrats momentarily left the party because Truman desegregated the military. But when Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott said “We would have avoided all these problems had we voted for Thurmond” in 2002, he had to give up his seat. Verbalizing such thoughts was no longer popular. No one ever publicly embraced what Bull Connor did in Birmingham in 1963, but when President Lyndon Johnson ended segregation by signing the 1964 Civil Rights Act, Dixiecrats permanently left the Democratic Party, switching to the Republican Party in 1968.
Even when the Democrats elected the first Southern President in over 100 years, eight years later (Jimmy Carter in 1976), those with a “peculiar” ideology waeren’t with him. And the code words flew with Ronald Reagan’s announcement for President in Philadelphia, Mississippi, three years later. The anti-taxation, individual rights, no race quota, family values conversation, froth with racial inferences, took the country back for two decades. Obama populism caught this segment of the population off guard. It didn’t catch the Republicans off guard.
They knew they had run the party in the ground with an antiquated ideology, and the country in the ground with it. They were looking for a way to recover and the Tea Party is the branch of the tree lowest hanging. Not one of the Republican Party frontrunners has repudiated any comments coming from the Tea Party. Most have appeared at one event or another. Most are tracking the growth of the Tea Party base, despite the antics tied to their message. But vocalizing racism and putting racists up front will temper the movement and re-empower Democrats. That’s the last thing the Tea Party and the Republicans wants.
Don’t look for Tea Party activists to try to run racists hiding in their ranks out of the movement. For they can no more disavow the racists in their own Party than they could disavow their white grandfathers that raised them but said things that made them “uncomfortable.” They’ll just have to learn to keep their unspoken truths to themselves.
Anthony Asadullah Samad, Ph.D., is a national columnist, managing director of the Urban Issues Forum and author of the upcoming book, REAL EYEZ: Race, Reality and Politics in 21 Century Politics. He can be reached at www.AnthonySamad.com.