NAACP delegates passed a resolution Tuesday to condemn extremist elements within the Tea Party, and called on Tea Party leaders to repudiate those who use racist language in their signs and speeches.
“We take no issue with the Tea Party movement,” said NAACP President and CEO Benjamin Todd Jealous. “We believe in freedom of assembly and people raising their voices in a democracy. What we take issue with is the Tea Party’s continued tolerance for bigotry and bigoted statements. The time has come for them to accept the responsibility that comes with influence and make clear there is no place for racism & anti-Semitism, homophobia and other forms of bigotry in their movement.”
The resolution was adopted during the civil rights group’s 101st annual convention in Kansas City, Missouri, and was amended during the debate to specifically ask the Tea Party itself to repudiate the racist elements and activities of the Tea Party. The resolution came after a year of high-profile media coverage of attendees of Tea Party marches using antagonistic racial slurs and images, according to the organization.
The move has sparked sharp criticism from conservatives. Former Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin, who is a very vocal supporter of the Tea Party movement, took to her Facebook account to share her “sadness” over the move.
“I am saddened by the NAACP’s claim that patriotic Americans who stand up for the United States of America’s Constitutional rights are somehow ‘racists.’ The charge that Tea Party Americans judge people by the color of their skin is false, appalling, and is a regressive and diversionary tactic to change the subject at hand,” Palin wrote.
She said the motive of such an “unfair accusation of racism is to dissuade good Americans from joining the Tea Party movement or listening to the common sense message of Tea Party.
The NAACP says it is not trying to stop the Tea Party movement, but just the racist discourse. The language of the resolution has been misconstrued to imply that the NAACP was condemning the entire Tea Party movement itself as racist, says the organization.
“We don’t have a problem with the tea party’s existence. We have an issue with their acceptance and welcoming of white supremacists into their organizations,” Jealous told the Associated Press.
The resolution will not become official NAACP policy until approved by the national board of directors in October.