E.J. Dionne Jr.: What the NAACP is Really Asking on Racism Within the Tea Party





[E.J. Dionne Jr. is a columnist for the Washington Post.]

Good for the NAACP. We need an honest conversation about the role of race and racism in the Tea Party. Thanks to a resolution passed this week at the venerable organization's national convention, we'll get it.

The minute you say there are racist elements in the Tea Party -- reflected in signs at rallies, billboards and speeches from some of its major figures -- the pushback goes from cries of persecution to charges that those who are criticizing divisiveness are themselves the dividers.

So let's dispense with the obvious: Most of the opposition to President Obama comes from people who are against his policies, not his race. The Tea Party is motivated primarily by right-wing ideology, not by racism....

Let's start with former representative Tom Tancredo's speech at a Tea Party convention last February that never got the attention it deserved. The reason we elected "Barack Hussein Obama," Tancredo said, is "mostly because I think we do not have a civics literacy test before people can vote in this country." He was cheered for this.

Should anyone be surprised that members of the NAACP might be alarmed over the suggestion that we need "literacy tests," phony devices once used to keep African Americans from voting?...



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