The NAACP's decision to condemn "racist" elements within the tea party movement is about as surprising as the U.N. Human Rights Council voting to condemn Israel. Still, there's a difference. The U.N. Human Rights Council never had moral authority to lose. The NAACP did.
The NAACP was formed on the centennial of Abraham Lincoln's birth, in 1909, in a small New York apartment. "The Call" proclaimed the organization's mission: "If Mr. Lincoln could revisit this country in the flesh, he would be disheartened and discouraged. He would learn that on January 1, 1909, Georgia had rounded out a new confederacy by disfranchising the Negro, after the manner of all the other Southern States ... Added to this, the spread of lawless attacks upon the Negro, North, South and West -- even in the Springfield made famous by Lincoln -- often accompanied by revolting brutalities, sparing neither sex nor age nor youth, could but shock the author of the sentiment that 'government of the people, by the people, for the people; should not perish from the earth.'"
The NAACP's role in fighting racism was a noble one. The organization was the moving force behind anti-lynching laws. The Legal Defense Fund's Thurgood Marshall argued and won the case of Brown v. Board of Education in 1954, marking a new legal era in the United States.
But the glory days are long gone. In recent decades, the NAACP has transformed itself into just another liberal advocacy group, absurdly dragging "racial justice" into nearly every public policy argument. In 1994, the NAACP filed suit against the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority, claiming that a proposed fare increase would discriminate against minorities. That same year, an NAACP spokesman suggested that raising the retirement age for Social Security could "exacerbate racial divisions" because blacks tend to have shorter life expectancies. When Ohio passed a law requiring high school students to pass a ninth-grade level exam in order to get a high school diploma (yes, sad), the NAACP sued. Julian Bond, the organization's chairman, described the Reagan administration as "crazed locusts" waging "an assault on the rule of law."
If the NAACP were to make its case on honest grounds -- that it likes and believes in big government liberalism -- that would be inoffensive. But the NAACP frames its policy preferences in the language of fighting racism and bigotry, and accordingly engages in serial slanders.
In 2000, the NAACP ran scurrilous, highly inflammatory radio and television ads against George W. Bush, suggesting that he tolerated the horribly brutal lynching of James Byrd in Texas. The rationale, if you can call it that, was that Bush declined to sign a hate crimes bill. But a) Texas already had a hate crimes bill; and b) of the three perpetrators, two were sentenced to death, and one to life imprisonment on Bush's watch.
Now come the tea parties -- overwhelmingly peaceful, orderly, and spontaneous demonstrations against overweening government, the Obama health care bill, accumulating debt, and federal bailouts. Though tens of thousands of Americans have rallied and marched, there has been almost no violence or vandalism. Of thousands upon thousands of signs and banners, a tiny handful have been offensive, and an even smaller percentage of those -- maybe one or two of those I've seen on the Web -- have been arguably racist.
So what is the NAACP talking about? Many of the signs mentioned as racist refer to Barack Obama as a Nazi. While it is no more acceptable to fling the accusation of Nazism at Obama than it was to use it against Bush (which was commonplace), how exactly does it amount to racism?
Worse, the resolution (the text of which has not, as of this writing, been released by the NAACP) reportedly cites the bogus name-calling alleged by members of the Congressional Black Caucus.
This charade has been amply exposed by bloggers (see for example Powerlineblog.com). Alas for the congressmen who claimed that the tea party crowd shouted racial epithets at them, a number of videos from different angles have captured the events of that evening. None of them recorded the "n" word or anything similar. All of the evidence suggests that the congressmen lied in order to libel as racists those who opposed Obamacare.
Racism was a stain on the American character. But the wanton smear of racism against your political opponents when you are losing the argument on points is pretty ugly as well.