Accusations of Racism – Part 2

Continuing the discussion of racism from Part 1

The first grenade

The NAACP’s accusations of racism within the Tea Party.

The NAACP website urges visitors to “Repudiate racism within the Tea Party” and to sign a pledge.  Another link takes you to a video of “Offensive Tea Party Signs.”  You know what?  I agree, some of them are truly offensive, but others are simply misinterpreted.  It’s also a tiny sample size in comparison to the number of signs brought to tea parties that had absolutely nothing to do with race.

Usually, I just shake my head when the Tea Party movement is accused of being racist.  In my experience, it’s just not true.  Sure, there is criticism of President Obama.  That criticism revolves around policy, not skin color.  As an organizer of two large Tea Party rallies in 2009, I can tell you that the organizers talked at length about perceptions of racism.  At neither rally did I see any signs with racial implications.  Quite simply, if we saw such signs we would not have allowed them at our rallies.  Yes, there were signs critical of politicians.  But they were not based on skin color or ethnicity.

Is the Tea Party movement as a whole racist?  Absolutely not.  Are there individuals with racial insensitivities and prejudices involved in the overall movement.  Probably yes, but only a minuscule minority.  No more than in most other political organizations.  Most likely less.  The same is true for Republicans, Democrats, and I’m just guessing here… perhaps there are even some of that type in groups like the NAACP.  Does that mean those organizations are overtly racist.  No way.  Unlike the NAACP, and many others, I do not run screaming that the racial sky is falling.  Not without significant proof.  Sorry, the video is not significant proof.

The second grenade

Cobleskill, NY – Former Mayor Mark Nadeau and Town Supervisor Tom Murray.

This is another local story that has recently drawn national attention.  In this case, the two town officials were recorded using that nasty racial epithet that starts with the letter “N.”  I know there are many questions about the legality of the recordings, and I believe those questions should be addressed.  Just not on this current blog post.  Has the audio been edited to take the conversations completely out of context?  I haven’t seen any news indicating that yet.  Therefore, I am writing this post with the assumption that both the former mayor and the town supervisor used the n-word in the context reported in the news.

Add to the mix accusations that the mayor engaged in racial discrimination against a town employee.  As a result of the recordings and accusations there exist impressions that racism is running rampant in Cobleskill.  Is that true?  I doubt it.  It is far more likely that the two officials have at a minimum displayed immense racial insensitivity and lousy judgement.

Personally, I am pleased to see that Mr. Nadeau resigned.  I wonder what we will hear from Mr. Murray.  If he does not resign, I suspect the town voters will take care of that in the next election.  Even still, I am not convinced that the damage inflicted should extend to the whole town.

Final thoughts

So, let’s save the shrapnel spewing racial accusation grenades for those times where true racism rears its ugly head.  You know, organizations like the Nazi’s, the KKK, and other despicable groups.  Otherwise, let’s hold individuals accountable and not blame entire groups and organizations.

At the same time, here’s a reminder, especially to our elected leaders:

You have the right to free speech.  But words matter.  Think before you speak.  If you cannot display proper judgement and avoid using racial epithets, then you likely lack the judgement to lead Americans.

What are your thoughts?

Leave a comment


  1. GL

     /  July 25, 2010

    Here’s what I say. ANY time you gather together a mass of people in large numbers, there will be some small sampling of all sorts of beliefs. I have no doubt that there are a tiny handful of racists who call themselves tea partiers. Just as there are in any group of people, be they Democrats, Wine connoisseurs , or NFL fans. Look, the U.S. senate couldn’t even assemble 100 senators without having a former KKK leader. How’s that for percentages? I do, however, believe whole-hardheartedly that as a group, the ranks of racists is sufficiently lower than the average among people who gather as groups. I’ve seen people get asked to leave rallies. I’ve seen teams be formed at rallies whose sole purpose was to wander the crowd and weed out trouble makers. We make an all out effort to denounce and reject without any prompting from any outside organization.

  1. A Very Partial Correction |

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