NAACP Report: Yes, Tea Party Movement Has Racist Ties

NAACP Report: Yes, Tea Party Movement Has Racist Ties

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The NAACP has released a report  accusing the Tea Party movement of having ties to racist groups, a charge that movement officials dismissed as a race-baiting stunt two weeks before the Nov. 2 midterm elections.

The 94-page report, titled “Tea Party Nationalism: A Critical Examination of the Tea Party Movement and the Size, Scope, and Focus of its National Factions,” details racially-tinged incidents involving Tea Party members and establishes links between individuals and organizations with racist or white supremist leanings and Tea Party groups.

“These groups and individuals are out there, and we ignore them at our own peril,” NAACP President Benjamin Todd Jealous said in a statement announcing the report. "They are speaking at Tea Party events, recruiting at rallies, and in some cases remain in the Tea Party leadership itself.”

Jealous writes in the report’s forward that “We know the majority of Tea Party supporters are sincere, principled people of goodwill,” but he adds that the links between certain “Tea Party factions and acknowledged racist hate groups" should give all patriotic Americans pause.

“The danger is not that the majority of Tea Party members share their views, but that left unchecked, these extremists might indirectly influence the direction of the Tea Party and therefore the direction of our country, moving it backward and not forward,” Jealous said in his written statement.

Tea Party officials scoffed at Jealous’s assesment or the report.

“Here we go again,” Judson Phillips, founder of Tea Party Nation, told the Kansas City Star. “This is typical of this liberal group’s (NAACP) smear tactics.”

The NAACP report follows up on a resolution the civil rights group passed during its convention last summer that condemned “racist elements and activities” in the Tea Party.

The report, authored by Devin Burghart and Leonard Zeskind of the Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights, examined tea party literature, Web sites and other information associated with the movement, in addition to examining individual ties between people claiming to be affiliated with the tea party with other organizations.

The study concluded that six tea party groups are headed by so-called “bithers,” people who don’t believe President Barack Obama is a U.S. citizen and therefore isn’t qualified under the Constitution to be president.

Burghart and Zeskind identify more than a dozen Tea Party activists with racist connections. The report says a Tea Party head in Texas was once listed as a supporter of a Ku Klux Klan group;  that TeaParty.org is led by the executive director of the Minuteman Project, a nativist group that’s been associated in the past with the murder of migrant Mexican workers; and that an “advisor and media spokesman” for the 2010 Tax Day Tea Party and member of ResistNet also is associated with the National Board of Directors of the Council of Conservative Citizens.

The report also mentions incidents allegedly involving Tea Party members, including the ugly events that occurred at the U.S. Capitol last March during congressional votes on health care legislation. Reps. John Lewis (D-Ga.) and Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo) were called the N-word by demonstrators. Cleaver said one protester spit at him. In a separate incident, some protestors launched homophobic slurs at Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), one of three openly gay members serving in Congress.

Many Tea Party leaders and members claim the incidents never happened because there’s no video evidence to prove it. They’ve challenged the honesty of Lewis, a civil rights icon who was almost beaten to death in the 1960s, and Cleaver, a former Kansas City, Mo., mayor.

Tea Party leaders dismissed the NAACP report, claiming it’s a political document put out to excite the Democratic Party base—mainly black voters—to go to the polls in November.

“Here we are two weeks out from a historic midterm election, and they’re doing this to attack us and change the message,” Amy Kremer, chair of the Tea Party Express, told CNN. “We’re focused on the issues, and we’re going to continue to work to get conservatives elected.”