Just Words Powerful Words – UPDATED

There is an art to good politics

This, however, is artless. And cynical.

First Lady Michelle Obama brought renewed energy to the NAACP today . . .one day before the nation’s largest civil rights group is expected to condemn what it calls racist elements in the Tea Party movement.

Tea Party members have used “racial epithets,” have verbally abused black members of Congress and threatened them, and protestors have engaged in “explicitly racist behavior” and “displayed signs and posters intended to degrade people of color generally and President Barack Obama specifically,” according to the proposed resolution.

“We’re deeply concerned about elements that are trying to move the country back, trying to reverse progress that we’ve made,” NAACP spokeswoman Leila McDowell told ABC News. “We are asking that the law-abiding members of the Tea Party repudiate those racist elements, that they recognize the historic and present racist elements that are within the Tea Party movement.”


Emphasis mine.
Does it matter at all to Ms. McDowell et al. that the rare racist behavior exhibited at any conservative/libertarian gathering is explicitly condemned by the vast majority of tea partiers, and so the repudiation she seeks is already a reality?

Here’s another perspective the NAACP could have offered, had they wished:

“…while there is still work to be done in America, it is heartening to see that when racist behavior is exhibited it is quickly condemned by people of good will in all spheres of society; we work toward the day when racism will exist no more, and the fact that it cannot grab a foothold even among those whose concerns we do not share gives real hope too us, that the dream of Martin Luther King and of so many anonymous, tireless workers for social justice can and will be realized for all God’s children.”

That would be a statement everyone can get behind, because all reasonable people want that. If people really do want to see continuing progress made in converting distrustful hearts and minds, a positive statement like that would be much more effective than the one they’re using.

This country needs someone in authority, somewhere, to acknowledge something good about its people, and to mean it. Lacking that–and we are–such a statement from the NAACP would be something good. And it would have the added benefit of being true.

If they are committed to their statement, then perhaps while the NAACP is condemning “racist elements” in the Tea Party, it can spare a line or two in condemnation of a civil-rights case whose outcome threatens to foment distrust and to re-open wounds that have been healing.

Have people meant what they’ve been saying for the last 50 years, or has it all been just words?

I don’t believe it was all “just words.” I don’t believe that Martin Luther King, whose soaring rhetoric galvanized the nation and motivated all sorts of people to work for equality and justice, died for “just words.”

If it has all been “just words,” then how can we ever move forward?

Sometimes, I feel like a motherless child.

If you missed it last week, Mr. Dalrymple talks about the tea party and racism, here

UPDATE: St. Louis Tea Party (I thought these things were loosely organized?) condemns racism of the NAACP. I don’t see this as being helpful.

Related: Did the DOJ take orders from the White House?
RFK/MLK, Oakland and Us

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About Elizabeth Scalia