NAACP vs. Tea Party: Who's Right?

The civil rights group admonishes the movement for tolerating bigotry

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On Tuesday, the NAACP approved a resolution condemning racism within the Tea Party. Though final wording hasn't been released, a director of the NAACP  said it "calls on the tea party and all people of good will to repudiate the racist element and activities within the tea party.” To many on the left, the resolution comports with long-held suspicions of the movement. Those on the right, including former Alaska governor Sarah Palin, deeply resent the allegation calling it "spurious" and "divisive." So who's right?

  • The Tea Party Has an Organizational Problem, writes Clarence Page at the Chicago Tribune: "As the old saying goes, we are judged by the company we keep as well as the enemies we make... Nobody is truly accountable for the national movement. That lack of accountability has its advantages. When you're not obligated to come up with solutions, you can spend more time complaining about the problems. However, it does leave your national image at the mercy of whoever happens to show up at your rallies and catch media eyes and microphones with the most outrageous protest signs or sound bites, some of which may be racially tinged."
  • This Is a Cheap Tactic, writes Michael McGough at The Los Angeles Times: "Calling on an organization to denounce abhorrent behavior by some of its devotees may seem reasonable. But it implies that the extremists/bigots/bombers are a sufficiently significant component of the organization that such a gesture is necessary. It's a clever rhetorical device that anyone can use to put a movement or a cause on the defensive, and it often serves the ulterior motive of discrediting the organization through guilt by association. Left-leaning writer Michael Tomaskey at The Guardian agrees: "I think an entity has the right to discipline wayward members either privately or publicly as it sees fit... The NAACP resolution just heightens divisions."
  • The NAACP Is Right, writes Charles Johnson at Little Green Footballs: "I’ve occasionally had differences with the NAACP, but in this case they’re absolutely right — it’s long past time for Tea Party organizers to take a stand against the significant racist element in their movement."
  • This Doesn't Ring True, writes Peter Roff at U.S. News and World Report: "Having attended a number of Tea Party events in the nation’s capital, I can say that I have not seen what [ NAACP spokeswoman Leila] McDowell apparently has. To listen to her take one must conclude that the so-called 'racist elements' constitute a major portion of the whole... The Tea Partyers’ opposition to President Barack Obama’s agenda for America has nothing to do with race. It has everything to do, however, with legitimate concerns about the size and scope of government."
  • Not That We Can See, writes Nick Gillespie at Reason. He directs readers to his magazine's video project in which they search for Tea Party racism:

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