Commentary By Deneen Borelli, fellow for the Project 21 black leadership network
WASHINGTON - It’s clear that the civil rights establishment, knee-jerk toward what it perceives to be discrimination, turns a blind eye to intolerance and incivility directed at conservatives — even when the victims are black.
Over the past two years, for example, the NAACP paired itself with virtually every left-wing group opposing the Tea Party movement.
The nation’s oldest civil rights group seemed eager to lend its credibility to efforts painting proponents of less government and more freedom as racist.
The NAACP partnered with ThinkProgress, Media Matters for America and New Left Media on TeaPartyTracker.org, a website that suggested racism could be found in rally signs that simply supported the Fox News Channel and said things such as “socialism sucks.” One “eyewitness” photo of such baseless racial “extremism” was owned by AFP-Getty Images and showed Oscar Murdock of the Project 21 black conservative network holding a sign that read “Hi Sarah [Palin], we [heart] u.”
A black man’s innocuous sign is evidence of racial extremism?
Then there was “Tea Party Nationalism,” a report from the little-known Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights for which NAACP president Ben Jealous served as head cheerleader. Similarly long on innuendo and short on the proof to back up the allegations, the report considered Tea Party members who said “take our country back” to be “explicitly nationalist” while liberals such as former presidential candidate Howard Dean, current Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Nation magazine editor Katrina vanden Heuvel who said the same in the past apparently were not.
Seeing these civil rights professionals — who include the likes of Jealous, Al Sharpton and Marc Morial of the National Urban League — make a tempest out of the Tea Parties might be funny if there weren’t so many in the media ready to parrot their thin allegations.
But it’s not funny at all when something sinister really happens and their silence is deafening.
That happened recently at a rally protesting a conservative meeting in Rancho Mirage, California. Progressive protestors — caught on video — spewed their hatred at conservatives in general and black U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas in particular.
Because one of the themes of the January 30 protest was opposition to the Court’s ruling in the Citizens United campaign finance case, the cameraman asked protestors for their opinion of Justice Thomas. One said “put [him] back in the fields.”
Others suggested that punishments for his rulings include “torture,” “cut off his toes one by one and feed them to him,” “string him up . . . and his wife, too” and “hang him.”
Threats were also made against Fox News chairman and CEO Roger Ailes (“kill the bastard”) and host Glenn Beck (“I pack [a] Glock [handgun]”), as well as Justice Samuel Alito (“go back to Sicily”).
The leadership of Common Cause, which held a nearby conference and reportedly urged participants to join the Rancho Mirage hate-fest, expressed “outrage” over the content of the video and further declared: “We condemn bigotry and hate speech in every form, even when it comes from those who fancy themselves as our friends.”
The NAACP? Nothing. Contacted by The Daily Caller, NAACP senior vice president Hilary Shelton refused to talk about the video in particular, instead condemning “all vitriolic language” and referencing a resolution the group passed last year. This resolution, apparently only available by calling the NAACP and asking for it, “decries the increase in racist comments and violent acts as a means of political expression” and calls on everyone to be civil.
It’s clear the resolution was watered down from the original “resolution to condemn extremist elements within the Tea Party” passed in secret last July to much fanfare and later approved and released with no official notice months later.
Similarly, Shelton has yet to get back to me about the NAACP specifically condemning epithets against black conservatives, promised to me during a Fox News Channel debate last July — despite several follow-up letters with documented examples.
Yet there’s little doubt the reaction would be much different if the situation was reversed and President Obama was the target of violent ire. It’s this double standard that discredits the civil rights lobby these days — particularly the NAACP.
There’s no doubt the NAACP helped black Americans in the past. Now, however, they are doing blacks a disservice — standing by idly when the politics of the aggrieved differ from their own.