Tea Party Leader: NAACP Is Playing the Race Card

NAACP President Benjamin Jealous, and David Webb, Co-Founder, Tea Party 365, on "Face the Nation," Sunday, July 18, 2010.
NAACP President Benjamin Jealous, and David Webb, Co-Founder, Tea Party 365, on "Face the Nation," Sunday, July 18, 2010.

A co-founder of Tea Party 365 today denounced what he called the NAACP's "selective racism," claiming that the organization was condemning figures who are not part of the Tea Party movement.

Appearing on CBS' "Face the Nation" this morning, David Webb also suggested that fringe elements can be found in any movement.

The discussion followed the civil rights organization's annual convention earlier this week in which members passed a resolution calling on Tea Party leaders to "repudiate those in their ranks who use racist language in their signs and speeches."

NAACP Says Tea Party Tolerates Racism

On "Face the Nation" today, NAACP President Benjamin Jealous said the convention in Missouri was addressing the issue of the Council of Conservative Citizens of St. Louis, "a group that says that black people are not equipped to participate in democracy."

Jealous said the Council was telling people "'Join the Tea Party, we're active in it, we have great influence' - that raised eyebrows."

Jealous also pointed to instances of others claiming Tea Party affiliation or support making racist statements, and rally attendees carrying racist signs, such as Dale Robertson (a Tea Party organizer who appeared at a 2009 rally with an anti-Obama sign heralding the "N" word, though mis-spelled) .

Webb told anchor Bob Schieffer that Robertson "has been discredited and has been denounced and is not a Tea Party member."

Webb also said that Mark Williams (who responded to the resolution by telling NPR that the NAACP's leaders "make more money off of race than any slave trader ever") is not a Tea Party leader, "although he's perceived as such by some in the media and by Mr. Jealous."

[Williams is nonetheless described on the Tea Party Express website as their national spokesman.]

Webb said Jealous is being "a little bit disingenuous" by targeting what he called "racist" and "bigoted" elements of the Tea Party movement. "He spoke to Americans at large who are in the Tea Party movement and tried to tie it altogether.

"What I have a serious objection with is his selective condemnation of racism, when he will not condemn the New Black Panther Party for saying that they want to kill crackers and kill cracker babies, whereas he would condemn the KKK or any element that shows up . . . and claims that they are a part of the Tea Party."

Jealous replied that "You know, bigots come in all colors. We absolutely denounce the New Black Panther Party. But they aren't in our group. These folks are in your groups."

Webb said self-policing is the right and responsibility of any movement or organization and added, "That is what we do." He said Williams has been expelled from the National Tea Party Federation, "because of the letter that he wrote which he, I guess, may have considered satire but which was clearly offensive."

In the letter posted on marktalk.com but since removed, Williams wrote a letter to Abraham Lincoln in the voice of blacks decrying emancipation, saying that slavery was "a good gig. Three squares, room and board, all our decisions made by the massa in the house."

"I denounce any acts that I see many leaders do," said Webb, but suggested that for Jealous to say such acts were representative of millions of Tea Party members is "blatantly false."

Webb said the NACCP is "simply playing the race card."

Jealous thanked Webb for talking publicly against such racist comments by organization members. "You are the only national Tea Party leader who I've seen come out and publicly state the things that you stated, and taking on Mark Williams was much appreciated.

"I find it a bit disappointing that they keep just putting you out," Jealous continued. "You're the only one up there in New York who is saying anything. These other folks come out and say things nationally. I talk to you about Tea Party members who belong to the NAACP who stand with us, who are there saying, 'Please get these folks out of our party. It will improve the party.' Thank you for taking action in the last 24 hours.

"But you're also being disingenuous, when you say that a man who is a founder of Tea Party Express, who is on TV as a national spokesman, hasn't been a Tea Party leader. He absolutely was. He was the day that he wrote that vile note penned in my name saying that President Lincoln was the biggest racist ever because slavery was a good gig. Thank you for following through.

"I sort of did you a favor to draw this guy out!" Jealous added.

When asked by Schieffer if the two organizations might meet to discuss jointly issues they have in common, Webb agreed. "Think what it would mean to this nation if we would have an open forum and a real summit, a real 'tea summit' instead of a 'beer summit' on race relations."

Jealous added "We can certainly plan something, absolutely."

But Jealous returned to the issue of racism: "We have gotten death threats across the country since we asked you guys to expel these folks from your ranks.

"Deal with it, David. Keep on dealing with it."

  • David Morgan

    David Morgan is a senior editor at CBSNews.com and cbssundaymorning.com.