NAACP PREOCCUPATION WITH “RACIST SIGNS” REFLECTS THE REAL PROBLEM WITH THEIR DIRECTION
Recently the NAACP voted to condemn “extremist elements” in the Tea Party, and called for Tea Party leaders to repudiate the racism within the movement. NAACP CEO Ben Jealous identified the “racist signs” as a reflection of the Tea Party harboring an anti-black sentiment. But a closer examination of these signs, and the “civil rights” organization’s decision to focus on them reveals something that is causing the very problems they claim to be solving.
Over the last several months, I have questioned the direction of the GOP/Tea Party in regards to some of the comments and policy decisions from high-profile candidates and Congressional leaders. I consider some of those comments and policy initiatives, at the least the manner they were presented, as being examples of political grandstanding and right-wing pandering. I deprecated statements from Senate and House members such as “this will break him”, and “this gangster government”, “you lie”. and “these policies are un-American.” Irrespective of how angry the people are about some of what has happened, I still find this language to be unprofessional. I believe the majority of people who will decide the November 2010 and 2012 elections are still looking for answers. They are not locked to one side or the other, and are looking for these people to lead instead of spending there time trying to personally attack the president. I also questioned the campaign decisions of certain “rock-star” candidates such as Rand Paul, Sharon Angle, JD Hayworth. I even believe that Janet Brewer and Bob McDonnell demonstrated some of a “playing to the base”. I am not committed to a GOP Tea Party candidate victory, I am more concerned with a political direction that reflects the best course for nation, regardless of who it is who implements it.
That being said, I find NAACP’s move to be an egregious example of political grandstanding. Ben Jealous claims that the numerous racist signs proves that there is a strong racist element in the Tea Party that has to be “removed”. But the very notion of that shows the basic disconnect between the mentality that drives his group and the “conscious of the conservative” if you will.
As a black person I have experience with the social constructs created by those that adhere to the NAACP direction. I refer to the concept that Jealous is inappropriately projecting unto the Tea Party as “the dominion consciousness”. This is a fairly complicated idea that I will explain further in future writing, but basically it is the notion that black people have the authority to regulate the behavior of other black people based on the imperative to keep that behavior appropriate and consistent with “correct and true blackness.”
Other groups do this as well, but the black version of this is particularly officious and intrusive. This often takes the form of questioning a black person’s musical choice, manner of speech, or as we all know, political affiliation. It also takes the form of suggesting that certain kinds of behavior is damaging to the whole race, because “it gives the white man what he wants”. This usually is in reference to various normal indiscretions that are common amongst all people; (fighting, cursing, yelling,).
At the Freedom Fights, a light-skinned black man dressed like a golfer told me that my collar button had come unbuttoned. While I thanked him he said “I pointed that out because we are black, you know.” No bra, I don’t know. Later at the event a woman I know asked one of the candidates (both of them white) why he was not dressed up. (Actually she was joking, and he is looked fine and sounded better. It’s all cool).
But the conservative conscience tends to find the people around them responsible for themselves, and the whole of “hey, you can’t have that sign here” is fairly incompatible with my understanding of the conservative sense of self. This is also why I challenged the notion that criticism of other conservatives helps the left. Being conservative does not mean being part of the Borg. Those making up their mind want to see that conservatives are not stooges for right-wing hypocrisy, and I think some of the contentious debates of the spring have demonstrated that.
Jealous calling for the Tea Party leaders to enforce a code of conduct shows that he either did not do his homework, or is trying to deceive his listeners. Most Tea Party goers probably don’t know the organizers of the Tea Parties in other cities. I didn’t even know the structure of the St. Louis Tea Party until April, and I had been speaking at the events since November. It didn’t matter. I believed in the message and the cause.
The NAACP approaches the Tea party like one of those Team Obama special interest groups they have to compete with for their cut of the “Change”. Jealous even said “This will make the Tea Party better” and that the he has made the Tea Party more compatible for minorities.
That statement shows exactly what is wrong with these organizations. First of all, their have been minorities in the Tea Party from day one, and they have been attacked by many who hold his asperity toward the movement. And where was his condemnation of Jeanine Garofalo’s statement that blacks in the Tea Party had Stockholm Syndrome? And where was his condemnation of Keith Olbermann and MSNBC for allowing her to spew that hate? Or Mr. savior of the Tea Party, did YOU secretly agree with that stuff.
Except for a few signs, including “monkey see, monkey spend”, “white slavery”, and “congress = slave holder tax payer= niggar”, all posted on the NAACP press release, most of what they are condemning as racist was not. These particular signs were held by people who have serious problems. Worrying about whether they were plants is not an effective approach; we cannot assume every time someone we agree with does something really bad they are plants. That gets us into the negative plane of our own dominion consciousness. Even if they think they are true conservatives, they just don’t get it, and I reject them as part of something distant from my message. And any racist sign holder knows the impact of that sign, unless they are really, really stupid. In any case, I am not worried about them.
The signs referring to Obama as a Communist or socialist may be quite insulting, but that does not make them racist. Obama did say to Joe the Plummer that he wanted to “spread the wealth around”, though he never actually said that in campaign speeches. That did make a lot of people suspicious. I never call him those things, because I think it gets me off topic. By the time you explain to people your definition of socialist, I find that many are already tuning you at as someone who just wants to attack him personally. Some even move toward defending his policies in order to defend him as Barack Obama, the person they like. And they often ask “does that make Bush a socialist?” I would rather just discuss why the agenda is not working.
The Nazi references have been the hot topic among Obama’s defenders, and I find those signs offense because Hitler actually killed 6 million Jews, not because the signs are racist. Americans have been throwing the Hitler and Nazi thing around for generations. We use it to refer to overbearing, controlling, and domineering behavior. Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, and most frequently George Bush were all called Hitler by their detractors. A woman in my old band called me the “record Nazi”, because I recorded everything we played. I don’t think she was a racist. Just because you call a black man a Nazi, doesn’t make you a ………..Nazi.
The idea behind these and the brither/Muslim charges is that they are examples of “code language” for white people’s animosity toward black leaders. This kind of mind reader garbage has been shoved upon the psyche black people of my generation, and is being force-fed to the young blacks in the next. This constant worrying about what white people real think of you, and what they really mean when they say “nice job” has done more damage to their esteem than any stupid sign saying “go back to Kenya.” Jealous and the NAACP are using this issue to conceal the fact that many of black political spokesman of the -babyboomer generation dropped the ball on teaching independence and self-empowerment to the “community”, for the sake of keeping an “edge” and reminding everyone to look for a racist under every rock.
Mr. Jealous, how about publicly dispelling the notion that black people naturally fight better than white people, so that your kids do not absorb that as part of their racial and personal identity, then play that our on each other throughout their school lives. The impact of that idea (promoted by many of our parents and community leaders, when convenient) has done far more to hurt black people than a sign that says “if Brown can’t stop Healthcare Reform, Browning can”.
And to some conservative talk show hosts who over use certain terms as well, no Obama is not killing Jews. We may not like how he is handling Israel, and he may have nationalized some industries, but he is not engaging in a second holocaust, and it is irresponsible to say that he is!
Recently, David Webb, a black Tea Party leader in the National Tea Party Federation, denounced Mark Williams of the Tea Party Express, who were recently expelled from the national group. David Webb, who challenged Jealous to make the same call to New Black Panthers, considers Williams a “bomb thrower”, for his various comments and publicity stunt type behavior. Webb rightfully doesn’t call any of his actions racist, but acknowledges that they have no place in the work he and others are trying to do.
The reason why the NAACP is so worked up is because up until recently, the radical left and angry black racial political concern was the tough guy on the block. And on that note, I missed the NAACP denouncing of Reverends Wright’s bigotted denigrations of America and Clarence Thomas. I guess it was not a big deal to them because he did not use any signs.
The Tea Party is not racist, but the Tea Party goers are also not at all afraid them. And I did not experience one racist moment at the events I attended, and I cannot say that about the time I worked as an administrator for a government program. I think the Tea Party I participated in had tremendous ideological diversity, and Jealous showed one of the reasons why we did not see more racial diversity.
But Mr. Jealous THE GIG IS UP GEEVES!
Geeves is not code language, by the way!