Sarah Palin is out there defending the Tea Party movement against charges from the NAACP that elements of the movement are racist:
"The Tea Party movement is a beautiful movement, full of diverse people, diverse backgrounds," Palin said on Fox News' "Hannity." "It's very unfortunate that they are taking this tactic because it's a false accusation that Tea Party Americans are racist. Any good American hates racism. We don't stand for it. It is unacceptable."
Palin in turn called on President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama to "repudiate" the resolution and "set the record straight."
Diverse? CNN reported in February that polling of Tea Party supporters showed "Tea Party activists tend to be male, rural, upscale, overwhelmingly conservative."As ABC News reports, NAACP president Ben Jealous offers a much more honest picture of the Tea Party movement that Palin calls "beautiful":
"For more than a year we've watched as Tea Party members have called congressmen the N-word, have called congressmen the F-word. We see them carry racist signs and whenever it happens, the membership tries to shirk responsibility," NAACP President Ben Jealous said in an interview with ABC News. "If the Tea Party wants to be respected and wants to be part of the mainstream in this country, they have to take responsibility."
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People this evening unanimously passed a resolution that calls on Tea Party members to repudiate what Jealous says are "ultra-nationalist and racist factions within the organization."
The resolution said the Tea Party members have used "racial epithets," have verbally abused black members of Congress and threatened them, and protestors have engaged in "explicitly racist behavior" and "displayed signs and posters intended to degrade people of color generally and President Barack Obama specifically."
The NAACP did exactly the right thing in issuing their statement because the Tea Party movement has a history of overt racism. Tea Party supporters have carried racist signs at rallies directed at President Obama and spit on members of the Congressional Black Caucus - while yelling "nigger!" - after the health care reform vote. So yes, there is an element of racism in the Tea Party movement that needs to be called out.
There is also a concerted effort by the Tea Party movement (and here they're taking lessons directly from Palin herself) to incite hate against the president - and this is the kind of hate that could led directly to violence against President Obama or others who support his political agenda.
Exhibit A comes from Iowa just today:
Governor Palin, as I suggested yesterday about the Tea Party movement in general, should heed the advice of the National Council of Churches, which said last year:
Update from 7/16 from Media Matters For America:
The essential nature of our national compact, to enfranchise the views of all, is imperiled in a hostile and suspicious environment. In this moment, then, we call the members of our churches, our political leaders, and all people of good will to somber reflection on the ways we might restore dignity and civility to our national discourse both as a matter of social ethics and to bolster the highest traditions of democratic process.
After the NAACP signaled its intention to pass a resolution condemning the "racist elements" within the tea party, conservatives went ballistic, claiming that the many,many, many, many, many examples of tea party racism and bigotry simply don't exist. And nothing will convince them otherwise -- not the many photographs of racist placards at tea party rallies (if Sean Hannity couldn't find them, they must not exist!), nor the word of civil rights legend Rep. John Lewis (he's a liar!).
Bigoted, racial attacks from conservatives against Obama aren't anything new. Hell, not even a week after he announced his intention to run for the presidency, they were excitedly spreading false rumors that he spent his childhood in a madrassa. But this past month has been something different. Gone are the code words, the winks and nods, and the dog whistles -- the conservative media are openly and aggressively trying to turn Obama's race into something threatening. You can chalk it up to the heat, the summer doldrums, or whatever. The fact is that they're going down roads from which there is no coming back, and it's only going to get worse as the summer rolls on.