NAACP-Backed Report Draws Links Between Tea Party, Racist Groups

Tea Party sympathizers don't appreciate the sentiment

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A study issued by the Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights and backed by the NAACP claims to have found a body of evidence connecting chapters of the Tea Party with various white-supremacist, anti-immigrant, and militia groups. The report says that while only a minority of people within the Tea Party espouse racist and extremist views, these groups are knowingly targeting Tea Party events and "hoping to push these (white) protesters toward a more self-conscious and ideological white supremacy." The questions of whether and to what extent racism informs the Tea Party movement are not new ones, but the IREHR report promises to reopen this charged debate.

  • Report: We're Not Accusing Everyone in the Tea Party  "We know the majority of Tea Party supporters are sincere, principled people of good will," writes NAACP President Benjamin Jealous in the report's foreword [opens in PDF]. "I hope the leadership and members of the Tea Party movement will read this report and take additional steps to distance themselves from those Tea Party leaders who espouse racist ideas, advocate violence, or are formally affiliated with white supremacist organizations."

  • Tea Party Has Ousted Racists Before, notes The Wall Street Journal. "This past summer, Tea Party Express, a major fund raising organization for tea party candidates, cut ties to former spokesman Mark Williams for allegedly racist comments," the Journal reports. "Jenny Beth Martin, a leader of the umbrella group Tea Party Patriots with more than 2,800 local affiliates around the country, said in an interview earlier this week that racism has no place in her group's efforts."

  • Hardly News, But Worth Repeating  Charles Johnson at Little Green Footballs writes that "the connection of the Tea Party to extremists and conspiracy theorists of all stripes has been blatantly obvious almost from the very beginning. It’s good to have such extensive documentation in one place, to refute the continuous stream of deceptive denials from Tea Party leaders."

  • Way Too Much Overreach  John Sexton at Verum Serum fine-combs the report and finds that in a lot of places, it seems to accuse conservatives of simply holding conservative views. "Are Americans allowed to hold a different view on illegal immigration from the one held by the NAACP and the authors of this report?" Sexton asks at one point. "If they are, then what are you objecting to here?" Sexton goes on to say:

It would be extremely easy to find examples of black nationalism on the web (on You Tube, on Forums, etc). Some of those statements are just as racist and offensive as anything offered in this report. I would not however attempt to connect that nonsense with the NAACP or the Congressional Black Caucus without something pretty concrete in between ... But that's the sort of reasoning I'm finding so far in this report. Over and over the NAACP seems to be cherry picking the online rants of anonymous individuals and using them to tar anyone and everyone who has ever said a kind word or offered support to this movement.

  • Yes, It Overreaches--That's the Point  At Slate, Dave Weigel wonders rhetorically: "What's the point of even highlighting the fringe racist elements of a movement if not to discredit the whole? Why should the NAACP worry so much about a conservative movement? Answer that and you wind up back at the debate over whether economic redistribution and aggressive civil rights laws are still necessary or whether scrapping those things will speed along equality, and there's no chance of the movements agreeing on that."

  • Don't Expect This to Influence the Election  Burdett Loomis, a political science professor at the University of Kansas, told The Kansas City Star that the report is "a lot to digest" and that "unless there's something super dramatic in it, I just don't see people's minds being changed very much now."

  • Nice Coverage, New York Times  At Michelle Malkin's blog, Doug Powers wonders whether "the New York Times would ever dare publish a story entitled 'Tea Party releases report on NAACP'--especially without offering somebody from the NAACP a rebuttal quote."

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.