NAACP Wrong To Play Race Card

Rick Hamada
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Wednesday - July 28, 2010

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) is a storied organization that historically took the lead in the battle for racial equality in America and abroad. Names such as Thurgood Marshall, Rosa Parks and Roy Wilkins were involved in landmark legal decisions including the “separate but equal” proclamation by the Supreme Court case Plessey v. Ferguson.

The NAACP was tireless in its advocacy for the dissolution of segregation, the elimination of “Jim Crow” laws and providing legal aid to those who could not provide for themselves. The organization was recognized for accomplishments in these and other areas, and will always be referred to as the first organization to successfully change the landscape of civil rights in America.

The NAACP, however, is not without its blemishes. Fiscal impropriety, alienation of members and their own stumbles with controversial racial statements cast a critical eye on its mission and those in leadership. Although the names Marshall, Parks and Wilkins are revered, names such as Hooks, Chavis and Alcorn tarnished the image of the organization.

In the 2000 presidential election, Lee Alcorn, head of the NAACP Dallas branch, uttered defamatory criticism of Al Gore’s selection of Joe Lieberman as a running mate. Alcorn made derogatory comments about Lieberman’s Jewish faith and was summarily removed from his position. Regardless, it was not lost on many that the very organization dedicated to eliminating racial injustice and hate has some issues of its own.

The Tea Party movement in America is a collective expression of disenchanted and disenfranchised members of traditional political parties and independents searching for representation that cannot be found elsewhere. It is a viable political entity loosely organized yet remarkably effective. Whenever there is an emergence of a political force that threatens the status quo, it’s inevitable that attacks from the old guard will relentlessly follow.

The invocation of racism into any conversation is volatile. When you invoke racism into a political debate, it becomes toxic. The recent adoption of a NAACP resolution calling on Tea Party leadership to “expel the bigots and racists in your ranks or take full responsibility for all their actions” has peeled off the scab from a wound that never seems to heal. Tea Party representatives have taken great umbrage at such a sweeping indictment of their movement.

As well they should. It is a losing proposition to play the “race card” in politics. It’s the most base, pedestrian and callous strategy to accuse someone of being a racist. But it does accomplish one thing. It takes any substance of any debate and throws it out the window, replacing it with an unsavory game of “he said, she said.”

The bottom line is that a vast majority of Tea Party supporters stridently disagree with the policies of President Obama. It’s simplistic and ignorant to equate opposition to the president with racism simply because he is African-American. Instead, it shows a willingness to invoke the painful memories of true racial struggles for temporary political gain. Where’s the resolution addressing that?

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