by Chris Bodenner
Ta-Nehisi, who has been critical of the NAACP in the past, can't side with me, Weigel, and others exasperated with the group's Tea Party resolution:
Racism tends to attract attention when its flagrant and filled with invective. But like all bigotry, the most potent component of racism is frame-flipping--positioning the bigot as the actual victim. So the gays do not simply want to marry, they want to convert our children into sin. The Jews do not merely want to be left in peace, they actually are plotting world take-over. And the blacks are not actually victims of American power, but beneficiaries of the war against hard-working whites. This is a respectable, more sensible, bigotry, one that does not seek to name-call, preferring instead change the subject and strawman.
TNC goes on to chronicle such rhetoric from a number of mainstream pundits and politicians embraced by the Tea Party movement. I agree with him that a subtler and perhaps more insidious form of racism has seeped into many of the TPM chapters. But for me the issue is a practical matter; was the NAACP resolution helpful for race relations? Based on the immediate and inflammatory backlash showcased in the MSM, I think not.
Perhaps the NAACP could have approached TPM leaders in private first, offering to help with a PR strategy to purge the racist elements of the movement from its core, small government message. That would have been the Obama-esque approach. But publicly shaming the TPM into doing so doesn't seem smart or pragmatic.
(One minor quibble: TNC correctly notes that I favored the Tea Party over the NAACP based on the news of the day. But my hat tip to the TPM was specifically for its silence on the DOMA ruling. For what it's worth, I called out Tea Party Express spokesman Mark Williams for his ignorant and hate-filled response to the NAACP the following day.)