The NAACP today issued a report detailing “the links between certain Tea Party factions and acknowledged racist hate groups in the United States.”
“These links should give all patriotic Americans pause,” NAACP president and CEO Benjamin Jealous writes in a forward.
Jealous allows that that “the majority of Tea Party supporters are sincere, principled people of good will.” He urges “the leadership and members of the Tea Party movement [to] 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.”
These groups and individuals are out there, and we ignore them at our own peril,” Jealous said in a statement before the report was released. “They are speaking at tea party events, recruiting at rallies, and in some cases remain in the tea party leadership itself.”
On a conference call in conjunction with the release, Jealous said “we have no problem with the Tea Party existing.”
“We do however have a problem when prominent Tea Party members,” he continued, “…are allowed to use Tea Party events to recruit people for those white supremacist groups.”
The report, which CBS News reviewed in advance of its release, is entitled “Tea Party Nationalism,” and it looks at the relationships and differences between six Tea Party groups: FreedomWorks Tea Party, 1776 Tea Party, Tea Party Nation, Tea Party Patriots, ResistNet, and Tea Party Express.
“In these ranks, an abiding obsession with Barack Obama’s birth certificate is often a stand-in for the belief that the first black president of the United States is not a ‘real American.’ Rather than strict adherence to the Constitution, many Tea Partiers are challenging the provision for birthright citizenship found in the Fourteenth Amendment,” write authors Devin Burghart and Leonard Zeskind of the Institute for Research & Education on Human Rights, which produced the report for the NAACP.
The authors said research for the report began a year ago when they noticed that the white supremacist group stormfront.org had “started a thread to move into the Tea Party.”
A document called “The Tea Party: The Racism Within” details some of the findings, including the fact that James von Brunn, the white supremacist who killed a Holocaust Museum guard last year, posted on Tea Partner Express partner websites.
Other findings include alleged death threats against the president by Mark Williams, former chairman of the Tea Party Express; “Nazi glamorization” by Billy Joe Roper, who is listed as a founder of white nationalist organization White Revolution and a member of the ResistNet Tea Party, for his eulogy for Turner Diaries author William Pierce; and a discussion of the March 20th incident in which members of Congress say they were spat upon and hit with racist slurs during a Tea Party protest. (Many Tea Party sympathizers allege this incident never happened.)
It also offers “profiles of troubling Tea Partiers,” including Roan Garcia-Quintana, a South Carolina Tea Party member who the report says belongs to the largest white nationalist group in the country; Karen Pack, a Texas Tea Party member the report says is linked to the Ku Klux Klan; and Clay Douglas, a Tea Party member from Arizona the report says has pushed “militia-style ‘New World Order’ conspiracies” and “hard core anti-Semitism.”
In advance of the report’s release, Tea Party Nation founder Judson Phillips told the Kansas City Star it was “typical of this liberal group’s smear tactics.”
And the Tea Party Express’ Sal Russo said that “[t]o attack a grassroots movement of this magnitude with sundry isolated incidents only goes to show the NAACP has abandoned the cause of civil rights for the advancement of liberal Democrat politics.”
In July, the NAACP passed a resolution condemning racism in the Tea Party movement. The resolution kicked off a heated rhetorical battle between the NAACP and the movement, which insists it is not racist.
A CBS News poll in April found 52 percent of Tea Party members believe too much has been made of the problems facing black people. Far fewer Americans overall — 28 percent — believe as much. Among non-Tea Party whites, the percentage who say too much attention has been paid to the problems of black people is 23 percent.
In the introduction to the report, Jealous writes that moves to hold a “Uni-Tea” rally to promote diversity in the Tea Party movement and other, similar initiatives over the past year have been “welcome first steps.”
“They promote diversity and acknowledge the inherent perception problem that plagues the Tea Party: that while many of its leaders are motivated by common conservative budget and governance concerns, for too long they have tolerated others who espouse racism and xenophobia and, in some instances, are formally associated with organizations like the Council of Conservative Citizens–the direct lineal descendant of the White Citizens Council.”
On the conference call, Jealous said some politicians are “denying the obvious” by suggesting they are not seeing signs of racism in the Tea Party movement. One of the authors of the report called it “stunning” that many members of the Tea Party caucus in Congress support a bill to repeal birthright citizenship rights contained in the 14th amendment.
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