Mixing it up: Race, Tea Party, NAACP, Palin
The NAACP’s resolution calling on leaders of the Tea Party movement to repudiate “racist elements” within its ranks has set off a political firestorm. The civil rights group illustrated its accusations with photographs taken at rallies that show supporters carrying controversial signs criticizing President Barack Obama.
Sarah Palin, a star of the Tea Party movement, responded with a missive on Facebook saying she was saddened by the NAACP’s charge of racism and accused the group of using “the divisive language of the past.”
Critics of the conservative Tea Party movement have questioned whether it is a racist movement, citing the largely white turnout at rallies and some of the signs carried by supporters. Conservatives say the liberals are using a low blow to counter genuine criticism of Obama’s policies.
David Frum’s FrumForum, which is dedicated to the renewal of the Republican Party and conservative movement, points out a piece on Patheos posted last week that discusses the question “Is the Tea Party Racist?” and offers one conclusion that liberals “were always going to believe that a movement dominated by white conservatives is racist.”
Clarence Page, columnist for the Chicago Tribune, says “nobody is truly accountable for the national movement” which has advantages and disadvantages. He says the feeling of dislike is mutual between the NAACP and tea partiers. “In the universe of political activism, the two groups are ‘Alien vs. Predator,’ a battle of titans from worlds too far apart for them to see much of anything the same way.”
The heated discussion over the Tea Party’s character less than four months before the November elections does suggest the movement has gained ground in the political spectrum, but it won’t be absolutely clear whether it is a force to be reckoned with until the ballots are counted.
Photo credit: Reuters/Brian Snyder (Palin at a Tea Party Express rally in Boston April 14)