I have HAD IT. Up to here. Of course, by reacting this way and revealing my anger, I’m playing right into their hands. But sometimes, you just have to vent. Thankfully, there are productive ways to do just that.
Race baiting as a substitute for actual debate on the issues should be one of those dirty tactics that has long ago been relegated to the past. There are moments when I am not proud of my generation, but one of our genuinely redeeming characteristics is demonstrated in our unequivocal embrace of racial diversity. And make no mistake about it; well-meaning political activists on both sides of the philosophical divide KNOW THIS. This is why my blood boils when the charlatans and snake oil salesmen of our day cry “Racism!” when they know they are losing the battle for the hearts and minds of America’s citizens. Common decency calls for far better.
Unfortunately, amiability, coolheaded rhetoric and integrity are all in short supply these days for the NAACP, an organization which lost all credibility as an objective advocacy group years ago, yet still continues to lay claim to the mantle of civil rights leadership. These race hustlers have drafted a resolution “[calling] on the tea party and all people of good will to repudiate the racist element and activities within the tea party”, according to NAACP Washington bureau director Hilary Shelton.
Current NAACP President Benjamin Jealous was not hesitant about casting further aspersions, though he did take pains to cloak them in high-minded rhetoric. “We take no issue with the Tea Party movement. We believe in freedom of assembly and people raising their voices in a democracy. What we take issue with is the Tea Party’s continued tolerance for bigotry and bigoted statements.”
Since the NAACP initiated this quarrel, I’ll be more than happy to jump in and participate. First, let’s review what the acronym “NAACP” actually represents. That’s right: the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. I could quibble about how much credibility an organization deserves to have that continues to employ a derisive term for the race on whose behalf it purports to speak.
But there is another voice I would rather let you hear than mine tonight.
I first met my friend, Emery McClendon, on the South side of the Capitol Building in Washington, DC, last October. We were both in town for the Defending the Dream Summit, sponsored by Americans for Prosperity and about 500 of us had assembled at the Capitol for a late afternoon “Hands Off My Health Care” rally. I was charged with convening the Indiana delegation to pay a visit to our Senators and Emery was one of the 7 or 8 who lined up with me. If he hadn’t been out in the hall of the Russell Office Building while the rest of us were inside Senator Evan Bayh’s office visiting with his front desk personnel, the Senator would probably have been able to sneak past and avoid us, but Emery buttonholed Bayh and summoned the rest of us. Bayh assured us that no health care bill would get passed any time soon…but that’s another story.
Emery is a salt-of-the-earth American that I am so proud I have gotten to know. When I look at Emery, I don’t see a black man first…even though he is. I see an American who exudes pride in his country and radiates warmth and kindness for his fellow man and love for his God. And somehow, I know that’s exactly how Emery would want to be viewed.
I stood shoulder to shoulder with him this last May at another Americans for Prosperity rally up in Fort Wayne, this time protesting Al Gore’s carbon tax rip-off and Barack Obama’s cap & tax scheme.
I asked Emery if he had grown up being schooled in conservative ideas and he replied, “My mother taught me and my brothers and sisters all of the conservative principles, but she always voted for Democrats. So did I, for a while.”
“So,” I queried, “when did that change…your voting pattern?”
“Well,” he replied, with a grin, “Ronald Reagan came along…”
He wrote the following letter for mass publication this last April after hearing the accusation, one too many times, that he was associating with a bunch of racist hicks. As soon as it hit my inbox, I knew I wanted to share it with a wider audience. I asked and received permission to do so; if you want to pass it along as well, I know he’d be honored. Here is my friend, Emery McClendon:
To Whom It May Concern:
In response to the mainstream media outlets that are trying to discredit the Tea Party Movement as racist, I feel that it is imperative that the truth be presented by one who has been there.
First of all let me say that I am a conservative African American and a Veteran. I have not only attended several Tea Parties, but I organized the Tea Party event in Fort Wayne, Indiana in April of 2009! The event turned out to be well attended. Our keynote speaker was also African American; former presidential candidate, Dr. Alan Keyes. I also recently was a speaker at The Indianapolis, Indiana 2010 Tea Party, and I was the Keynote speaker in Wabash, Indiana.
I am outraged at the biased coverage of these events. The racist accusations against the Tea Party movement are false and do not portray the truth about a movement which is waking up Americans to the principles that founded this great nation. Every day a new charge is made, and the major media outlets refuse to allow someone like me refute these allegations and defend the Tea Party, and those that attend the rallies.
I challenge the media to allow an African American conservative patriot, to evaluate the Tea Party movement based on experience. I also accept the offer to be that person, because I would like to share the truth about them from my first hand experiences.
I have attended dozens of these events, and have been featured as a speaker at several of them. I have also served on several U.S. Senate candidate panels, and was the moderator at a Senate and Congressional debate. I have also been asked to serve as a speaker at Town Hall Meetings. It has been wonderful to meet and to talk to those that attend. These are folk that love their country, share a deep respect for our Constitution and those that serve in our nation’s Armed Forces. It is a movement that unites everyone, regardless of race, based on those beliefs.
I have never encountered any racism at any of the events that I have attended throughout Indiana or in other states. Even after being the only Black person at a Tea Party in an Indiana town that has a very racial history in the past. The people there were friendly, and allowed me to ask questions, and to speak to them.
I have also attended rallies in the nation’s capital, and these have also been without any incident.
I cannot sit by and allow a movement such as this to receive unwarranted negative publicity.
The movement is driving true patriotic Americans back to our founding principles and recreating a love for our Constitution. It does this across racial and cultural barriers. The Tea Party movement is bringing us together to stand up for a common cause; that of restoring the traditional values which encompass all people who call themselves Americans. Perhaps unity is what is what the naysayers really fear and the race card is always a handy tool to divide the people.
FREEDOM and LIBERTY (Use Them Or Loose Them)
Emery McClendon / KB9IBW