The St. Louis Tea Party was quick to react when charges of racism started flying from the Obama mouthpiece that the NAACP has become. Major portions of the Tea Party, however, are not toeing the line and defending the movement, but instead turning on their own. The Tea Party Federation, described by The Daily Telegraph as ‘an umbrella group’, independently declared that the Tea Party Express organization is no longer part of the Tea Party movement because of TPE’s spokesman, Mark Williams, who wrote a satirical letter making fun the NAACP’s resolution.
The letter was by Mr. Williams as a letter from the NAACP to Abraham Lincoln, who was responsible for the Emancipation Proclamation. The Emancipation Proclamation, it should be remembered, declared slaves free in rebelling states (not all states allowing slavery, only those ‘in rebellion’) in a failed effort to damage Confederate military defense by creating a fifth column that demanded garrisoned troops in the Southern heartland, robbing from the main Confederate army, which was already smaller than the massive war machine that Northern industry and manpower (about twice that of the Confederates) allowed the Union to build. By and large it was far more effective as propaganda than as a military tactic, but it remains one of the most famous documents of the Lincoln presidency.
The letter written by Mr. Williams is a clear satire of the NAACP. A segment of it, quoted in The Telegraph (which is strangely critical of the Tea Party, considering it is the official paper of Britain’s Conservative Party), reads ‘Dear Mr. Lincoln, We Coloreds have taken a vote and decided that we don’t cotton to that whole emancipation thing. 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!’ There is clear satire of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People’s use of the no-longer-PC term ‘colored’.
Mr. Williams has defended the letter as satire, but it has come under attack by the left and now other Tea Partiers as ‘bigoted’, ‘racist’, and other variations on that theme. Mr. Williams scoffed at the Tea Party Federation’s attacks, saying that there is ‘no tea party leadership’. The strange thing is that Mr. Williams has said truly offensive things in the past, but it was the letter, not these other comments, that drew fire.
The attack on the Williams letter accompanies criticisms and protests both within and without the Tea Party movement against Tea Partiers; criticisms and protests that seem to increase as Republican involvement in the movement increases.
Another major row took place last week in Idaho, where the North Idaho Tea Party was forced to remove a billboard with pictures of Adolf Hitler, Barack Obama, and Vladimir Ilyich Lenin accompanied by the titles ‘National Socialism’, ‘Democrat Socialism’, and ‘Marxist Socialism’ respectively and the words ‘Radical Leaders Prey on the Fearful & Naïve’.
While, admittedly, the billboard had its problems, such as the fact that ‘Marxist Socialism’ is a redundancy (all socialism is Marxist in origin, except Owenite socialism, which hasn’t been represented politically since the 1830s), and ‘Democrat Socialism’ is grammatically incorrect, these were not the problems that caused the complaints. Rather, people seem to be bothered when Obama is compared to Hitler, even though it was socially okay to make the same comparison with Bush.
Memphis residents seem to feel that the in-fighting isn’t coming from the most intellectual members of the Tea Party movement. A Germantown resident remarked, ‘it seems to me they’re playing right into the hands of the left; the Democrats are scared that they’re going to lose power in November because of the Tea Party. They want it [the Tea Party] divided.’ A Midtown woman was similarly inclined, ‘They’re fighting the wrong people; it defeats the whole purpose of the Tea Party to attack other Tea Partiers, regardless of what they’re saying.’