The Tea Party tolerates racists, says the NAACP, and they point to signs allegedly made by Tea Party supporters are proof. Members of the civil rights organization passed a resolution at their annual convention calling on Tea Party leaders to "repudiate those in their ranks who use racist language in their signs and speeches."
"The Tea Party as a political philosophy is to reverse what civil rights did, and that is say the federal government must help people," said National Action Netwook president Al Sharpton.
The NAACP also claims activists shouted a racial slur at congressman John Lewis during a health care protest last march, reports CBS News political analyst John Dickerson.
On her Facebook page, Sarah Palin, a supporter of the movement, called the charge "false, appalling" and a "regressive and diversionary tactic."
Organizers of the anti-tax and anti-government Tea Party movement such as Freedomworks president Matt Kibbe say they have already made it clear they do not tolerate racism.
"We will not tolerate any kind of hate in our groups and that if you see it in the community you need to call them out," he said.
Sometimes it's the community's leaders who go too far. The Iowa Tea Party purchased a billboard in downtown Mason City comparing Barack Obama to Hitler and Vladmir Lenin. The group has since covered it up, saying it was "counterproductive."
Partisans comparing a president to Hitler is not unique to the current president - George W. Bush has been compared to Hitler - and Tea Party activists say the NAACP is making this incendiary charge for political reasons.
"They're trying to mobilize voters in an election that looks very bad for Democrats," said Kibbe.
The core supporters of both political parties are now in a battle with each other over one of the country's most sensitive subjects: race. Now an already contentious election year has now gotten more contentious.
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