The war of words between the NAACP and the tea party reached new heights this past week when Tea Party Express member Mark Williams, posing as NAACP President Benjamin Jealous, wrote a satirical blog post addressed to Abraham Lincoln. Williams referenced Jealous as “Tom’s Nephew” and called slavery “a great gig.”
“We Colored People,” the letter begins, “have taken a vote and decided that we don’t cotton to that whole emancipation thing. Freedom means having to work for real, think for ourselves, and take consequences along with the rewards. That is just far too much to ask of us Colored People and we demand that it stop!”
The mocking letter and the Tea Party Express’ reluctance to remove Williams resulted in both being expelled from the National Tea Party Federation.
“We, in the past 24 hours, have expelled Tea Party Express and Mark Williams from the National Tea Party because of that letter he wrote,” said Federation spokesman David Webb on CBS’s “Face the Nation” Sunday.
Webb also criticized the NAACP, however, charging them of “selective condemnation of racism,” and calling on Jealous to denounce members of the New Black Panther Party for saying they want to “kill cracker babies.”
Jealous, also on “Face the Nation,” responded, “We absolutely denounce the New Black Panther Party. But they aren’t in our group. These folks are in your group.”
The expulsion of the Tea Party Express and Williams is just the latest salvo in an ongoing debate of the role of race and the nature of racial sentiment in the tea party movement.
Williams, speaking on MSNBC, said it was “impossible” for there to be a racist element in the tea party and invited Jealous to actually attend a tea party gathering.
The ousted leader also questioned the NAACP’s own use of the word “colored” —which he said is offensive—in its name. And he lambasted “Crash the Tea Party,” a set of rallies, which he accused NAACP members of organizing, with offensive signs attempting to make the Tea Party look bad, claiming that Jealous could have prevented it from taking place.
Meanwhile, Jealous praised the action against Williams and also thanked Webb personally.
“You are the only Tea Party leader who I’ve seen come out and publicly state the things that you’ve stated. And taking on Mark Williams was much appreciated,” Jealous said.
There have been reports of a proposed “brokered peace” between the Tea Party and the NAACP by Newt Gingrich, who said both sides should hold joint town meetings, where dialogue can take place. Both Jealous and Webb were supportive of the idea.