Dave Helling of The Kansas City Star reports on reaction within the black political community to the NAACP’s condemnation of alleged “racist” elements in the tea party. The organization held its annual convention in Kansas City, Missouri this year.
I’m a bit surprised – pleasantly – at the overall tone of comments coming from Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton and Cynthia Tucker. And according to The Kansas City Star:
“Timothy Johnson of the Frederick Douglass Foundation said ‘the NAACP no longer speaks for the average African-American … the Tea Party movement has nothing to do with race.’ “
I’ve got to say that it relieves me to see that sentiment expressed. While the NAACP has a vital legacy of contribution to our society, much of what I see coming from the organization or its leaders today does not live up to that positive role in racial reconciliation that it has played in the past.
The NAACP expressed surprise that so much attention was paid to their condemnation, but given the context, its leaders shouldn’t be surprised at all. Conflict makes for a compelling story, and conflict involving race and politics is especially easy to latch onto.
That being the case, I would have hoped that the NAACP would have seen fit to stick to what it claims to believe are the important issues, and not stoke controversey by taking a questionable pot shot at a political rival.
The other, underlying political dynamic at play here is the extent to which race will become an issue in the midterms and in the next presidential election. There are clearly some elements within the liberal movement that are prone to portray opposition to President Obama as racially motivated.
Yet, the president and his advisers know that to play that game is to walk a very fine line at great risk. The question is whether de facto surrogate organizations with less temperance, less savvy and less on the line generally will understand and heed the political imperative of their patron president.
The jury is still out on that question.