We call on the Tea Party to repudiate extremists among their ranks and join in civil dialogue with all Americans.Let's take apart these opening words. First, chronicling "racism and extremism" in the tea party movement assumes that racism and extremism is the modus operandi for the people within it. What does the NAACP count as racism? We get a little taste from their introductory video, which lasts a whopping thirteen minutes. In it, an orange-shirted videographer asks Glenn Beck rally attendees what they think about a host of issues, such as immigration, free speech, and religious freedom. What follows is a montage of edited clips designed to make the respondents look as stupid as possible.
You can find tea party activists who get their facts wrong, or appear to be ignorant on certain issues, at any tea party-esque rally you go to. But the same can be said for the population at large. When you edit everything down on your video camera, you can pretty easily come up with enough material to give the entire event look bad. Several rally attendees were unaware that Glenn Beck had called Obama racist towards white people -- a statement which he later repudiated. Perhaps that's because they focus on Beck's larger ideas of Constitutional conservatism and following God, instead of the statements that are off-the-cuff.
Let's look at their next statement: "We call on the Tea Party to repudiate extremists among their ranks and join in civil dialogue with all Americans." What exactly is civil dialogue and extremism? Let's take a look at one of their blog topics for some clues: "Glenn Beck's Philosophy Is Opposed To Everything Martin Luther King, Jr. Stood For." Since when does the NAACP have a lock-down on exactly what Martin Luther King stood for? Do they somehow have an all-seeing knowledge of his philosophy, while his niece, Dr. Alveda King -- who spoke at Beck's rally -- is left in the dark? At best, King's underlying philosophy isn't settled, and the NAACP can't seem to handle the fact that there are differing opinions. Unless you believe what they do, you're apparently an extremist.
Another blog post, "Beck Rephrases His Claim President Is ‘Racist’: Meant To Say Obama Believes ‘America Is An Oppressor," is quite outstanding. To use Obama's words exactly, America has "shown arrogance and been dismissive, even derisive" towards its allies during the Bush administration. Michelle Obama has talked about America holding on to its "stereotypes, misconceptions, and ignorance." So it's not too much of a stretch to make the claim that Obama believes America is oppressed -- much smaller of a stretch, I would argue, than to say believing in conservative immigration policies or opposing the mosque at Ground Zero is the same as being extremist.
If the NAACP or the others involved in this project really wanted to combat extremism or racism -- even just simply address misinformation in the tea party movement -- they would open up a genuine dialogue with tea partiers that engaged in honest debate instead of gotcha journalism.