(Posted 5:00 a.m. EDT Tuesday, July 20, 2010)
NOTE TO READERS: This column is taking a two-week break after this issue, while I go on vacation. It will resume on Tuesday, August 10.
By SKEETER SANDERS
Stubborn. Bullheaded. Tart-tongued. Full of himself. A bigot.
These are some of the things that critics of Mark Williams, the founder and chairman of Tea Party Express, one of several groups in the broader conservative Tea party movement, have been saying about him in recent months.
To that, you can add one more: A [bleeping] hypocrite.
The acerbic Williams has accused the nation’s oldest civil-rights organization, the NAACP, of bigotry — totally ignoring his own well-documented record of making highly inflammatory and bigoted statements.
Meanwhile, an alleged scandal in which the Justice Department was accused by conservatives of downplaying allegations of voter intimidation by the New Black Panther Party — which the Fox News Channel and other right-wing media outlets had been playing up for months — was exposed as a politically-motivated hoax aimed at inflicting racially-charged damage on the Obama administration.
WILLIAMS RIPS NAACP FOR CONDEMNING ‘EXTREMIST ELEMENTS’ IN TEA PARTY
Williams had the gall to accuse the NAACP of being "professional race-baiters" after delegates to the NAACP’s annual convention in Kansas City passed a resolution last Tuesday condemning "extremist elements" within the Tea Party movement and calling on the movement’s leaders "to repudiate those in their ranks who use racist language in their signs and speeches."
Addressing convention delegates, NAACP president Benjamin Todd Jealous said that his organization "has no issue" with the Tea Party movement itself. "We believe in freedom of assembly and people raising their voices in a democracy," he said. "What we take issue with is the Tea Party’s continued tolerance for bigotry and bigoted statements."
Taking direct aim at Tea Party movement leaders, Jealous continued, "The time has come for them to accept the responsibility that comes with influence and make clear there is no place for racism and anti-Semitism, homophobia and other forms of bigotry in their movement."
NAACP CITES SLURS AGAINST BLACK AND GAY LAWMAKERS AT TEA PARTY RALLY
In a statement posted on its Web site, the NAACP said the resolution was passed "after a year of high-profile media coverage of attendees of Tea Party marches" across the country "using vile, antagonistic racial slurs and images" against President Obama. Photos of some Tea Party protesters’ racially inflammatory anti-Obama signs were posted with the statement.
The NAACP statement also made reference to a Tea Party protest on Capitol Hill in March against the passage of the health-care reform bill, in which a black member of Congress, John Lewis (D-Georgia), was called the racist N-word and an openly gay member of Congress, Barney Frank (D-Massachusetts), was branded the six-letter homophobic F-word.
A second black congressman, Emanuel Cleaver (D-Missouri), was spat upon by a protester as he was walking toward the House wing of the Capitol Building. Fearing an assault, Capitol Police immediately hustled Cleaver into the building and subdued his would-be assailant. The person was later released after Cleaver chose not to press charges.
WILLIAMS CALLS NAACP ‘OLD FOSSILS MAKING A BUCK OFF SKIN COLOR’
In an interview on Wednesday with National Public Radio, Williams branded the NAACP "professional race-baiters . . . who make more money off of race than any slave trader ever. It’s time groups like the NAACP went to the trash heap of history where they belong with all the other vile racist groups that emerged in our history,"
That same day on CNN, Williams went further. Asked if the Tea Party movement should tell bigots that they’re not welcome, Williams replied, "Racists have their own movement — It’s called the NAACP! They’re a bunch of old fossils looking to make a buck off skin color!"
In a highly inflammatory posting on his blog, Williams wrote what he said was a "satirical" letter to the nation’s 16th president, Abraham Lincoln, from Jealous, in which Williams sought to take issue with the 100-year-old NAACP’s continued use of the now-outmoded term "colored people" in its formal name — the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People — even though the organization has been popularly known and referred to by the media simply by its acronym for the last 30 years.
"We Colored People have taken a vote and decided that we don’t cotton to that whole emancipation thing," Williams wrote. "Freedom means having to work for real, think for ourselves, and take consequences along with the rewards. That is just far too much to ask of us Colored People and we demand that it stop!"
Williams concluded his "satire" with the following: "Mr. Lincoln, you were the greatest racist ever. We had a great gig. Three squares, room and board, all our decisions made by the massa in the house. Please repeal the 13th and 14th Amendments and let us get back to where we belong!"
WILLIAMS TRIES TO DRAW ATTENTION AWAY FROM HIS OWN RECORD OF BIGOTED REMARKS
If Williams was trying to be cute, he failed miserably. He also failed in his apparent attempt to draw attention away from his own record of making highly inflammatory, bigoted remarks — a record that is well documented, despite his best efforts to sanitize it.
(Williams took his "satirical" NAACP letter off his blog site, MarkTalk.com, after it was reported by the mainstream media — but not before the liberal media watchdog group Media Matters copied the letter in full and posted it on its own Political Correction Web site.)
Indeed, so well-documented is Williams’ record of bigoted comments that his claims that the NAACP is a bunch of "professional race-baiters" is utterly without credibility — and at the same time reveals how deeply in denial he is about his own bigotry.
WILLIAMS SLAMS MUSLIMS, SAYS THEY WORSHIP A ‘MONKEY-GOD’ . . .
He’s certainly an anti-Muslim bigot. Williams made that abundantly clear in May, when he touched off a furor by blasting a proposed mosque and Islamic cultural center to be built in New York near Ground Zero, the site of the 2001 terrorist attacks that destroyed the World Trade Center and killed more than 3,000 people.
The New York Daily News, citing a blog posting on his MarkTalk.com Web site, reported that Williams branded the project "a monument to the 9/11 terrorists" and wrote that Muslims "worship the terrorists’ monkey-god."
The 13-story glass-and-steel building, which includes a 500-seat theater and athletic center, is under construction just two blocks from the where twin towers of the World Trade Center were destroyed on September 11, 2001, when two hijacked California-bound jetliners crashed into them and exploded in massive fireballs of jet fuel.
. . . ALSO HURLS INVECTIVES AT JEWISH POLITICIAN — AND THE PRESIDENT
Williams was just as incendiary in his condemnation of a New York politician, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, who is Jewish and supports the planned mosque. Williams branded Stringer "a Jewish Uncle Tom who would have turned rat on Anne Frank for the price of an approving glance from Hitler."
Stringer promptly fired back with a blast of his own at Williams, vowing that he’s not going to take "faith-based filth" from anybody.
"To use words around my religious beliefs, to use words calling me out about my faith, is just absolutely despicable," Stringer told the Daily News. "This [mosque] is about tolerance and respect for diversity. He [Williams] can spew his hatred — and we’re going to hit right back. You don’t let people like this gain any ground."
Williams has also made inflammatory anti-Muslim remarks about Obama — despite all evidence that the president is a Christian — calling Obama "an Indonesian Muslim-turned-welfare thug" and a "racist-in-chief."
He’s also referred to the president as an "enemy of America," lumping him with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad — despite the Obama administration’s increasingly get-tough policy toward Iran’s nuclear program — the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and even former President Jimmy Carter, whose recent book on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid, has come under sharp criticism by supporters of Israel as being biased in favor of the Palestinians.
So deep is Williams’ apparent Islamophobia that he’s even stepping down from his post as chairman of Tea Party Express to devote full-time to his drive to stop the construction of what local media in New York refer to as the "Ground Zero Mosque."
ALLEGED ‘SCANDAL’ OF NEW BLACK PANTHERS EXPOSED AS PARTISAN HOAX
Meanwhile, the conservative Republican vice-chairwoman of the U.S. Civil Rights Commission, in an extraordinary interview published Friday by Politico.com, accused her fellow Republicans who hold a majority on the commission of a clear partisan bias against the Obama administration in their investigation into the Justice Department’s handling of allegations of voter intimidation by members of the New Black Panther Party (NBPP).
"This doesn’t have anything to do with the [New] Black Panthers; this has to do with [the GOP majority’s] fantasies about how they could use this issue to topple the [Obama] administration," said Abigail Thernstrom, who was appointed vice-chairwoman of the commission by President George W. Bush.
Thernstrom told Politico that her conservative colleagues on the commission made their political aims crystal clear "in the initial discussions" of the Panther case last year. "My fellow conservatives on the commission had this wild notion they could bring [Attorney General] Eric Holder down and really damage the president," she said.
Thernstrom has strong conservative credentials. She is a tough critic of affirmative action and of "political correctness" — especially on matters of race. An adjunct scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, Thernstrom is also member of the board of directors of the conservative Institute for Justice and is a frequent guest on "Fox News Sunday."
ALLEGED SCANDAL STEMS FROM 2008 ELECTION DAY INCIDENT IN PHILADELPHIA
The alleged scandal stems from an incident on Election Day 2008. Poll watchers found two NBPP members standing outside of a polling station in an African-American neighborhood of Philadelphia. One of the two was a credentialed poll watcher, while the other was brandishing a police-style nightstick baton.
From there, the details get murky. The man with the nightstick was subsequently identified as a member of the NBPP, a militant, Texas-based black-nationalist organization. Founded in 1989, the NBPP, contrary to its name, has no connection with the original, California-based Black Panther Party of the late 1960s and early 1970s co-founded by Bobby Seale and the late Huey Newton.
Chris Hill, a Republican poll watcher, said that voters had been complaining about intimidation by NBPP members, but the Philadelphia District Attorney’s office said it had not received any such complaints, according to WTXF-TV, the local Fox affiliate in Philadelphia. The nightstick-wielding man was escorted away by Philadelphia police, but no charges were filed against him.
Hill then contacted Rick Leventhal, a correspondent for the national Fox News Channel, and repeated his earlier claim that the two NBPP members were intimidating voters. Fox News aired the story — which was quickly picked up by Breitbart.com and other right-wing media — and has been trumpeting it repeatedly ever since.
FEDS SUE NBPP, BUT LATER HALTS CASE — ANGERING CONSERVATIVES
In January of last year, the Justice Department filed a civil lawsuit against the NBPP and three of its members alleging violations of the 1965 Voting Rights Act stemming from the incident at the Philadelphia polling station. The lawsuit named NBPP members King Samir Shabazz, who had brandished the nightstick, and Jerry Jackson as defendants. A default judgement was entered against Shabazz and Jackson after they failed to appear in court.
In May of last year, Justice Department officials, over the vehement objections of prosecutors who were working on the case, ordered the lawsuit dropped — prompting accusations by conservatives that the orders came directly from Attorney General Eric Holder and that they were racially motivated, as Holder is black.
INTIMIDATION OF WHITE VOTERS ALLEGED — IN AN ALL-BLACK VOTING PRECINCT!
As the controversy continued to build — driven by Fox News, The Washington Times, radio talk-show host Rush Limbaugh and other right-wing media — J. Christian Adams, a former Justice Department attorney, testified before the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights and alleged that the case was dropped because the Justice Department "did not want to protect the civil rights of white people."
There was one major problem with Adams’ testimony: The polling station at the center of the controversy was located in an all-black election precinct — a fact that Thernstrom caught almost immediately.
In a scathing July 6 article published in the online edition of the conservative National Review, Thernstrom blasted what she said was a lack of evidence to substantiate the allegations of voter intimidation.
"After months of hearings, testimony and investigation, no one has produced actual evidence that any voters were too scared to cast their ballots," she wrote. "Too much overheated rhetoric filled with insinuations and unsubstantiated charges has been devoted to this case."
Thernstrom ripped her conservative colleagues for charging that "the Philadelphia Black Panther decision demonstrates that attorneys in the [Justice Department’s] Civil Rights Division have racial double standards. How many attorneys in what positions? A pervasive culture that affected the handling of this case? No direct quotations or other evidence substantiate the charge."
NBPP IS DESPISED BY ORIGINAL BLACK PANTHERS
Although the claims of voter intimidation were exposed as false, the NBPP nonetheless remains a highly controversial organization with very few fans — and is deeply despised by the surviving members of the original Black Panther Party, who adamantly insist that the NBPP is illegitimate and have even taken it to court.
The Huey P. Newton Foundation, founded by former original Panthers David Hilliard and Newton’s widow, Fredrika Newton, has vociferously objected that the new party "denigrates the [original] Party’s name by promoting concepts absolutely counter to the revolutionary principles on which the [original] Party was founded."
The NBPP continues to use the Panther name and logo in spite of a permanent injunction obtained by the original Panthers in 1997 prohibiting the NBPP from using either. NBPP founder Aaron Michaels has been equally contemptuous of the original Panthers, branding them "has-been wannabes" and rejecting the injunction. "I don’t give a damn what judge issued an order," Michaels said. "Nobody can tell us who we can call ourselves!"
Both the Anti-Defamation League and the Southern Poverty Law Center have identified the New Black Panthers as a hate group, "based on the anti-white, anti-gay and anti-Semitic views its leaders have repeatedly expressed."
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Copyright 2010, Skeeter Sanders. All rights reserved.