Gregory Kane: NAACP has lost its luster in Tea Party fight 

Surely, the NAACP is jesting.

Last week the civil rights organization held its annual convention in Kansas City, Mo. I almost wrote "the nation's oldest and most esteemed civil rights organization," but that described the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People in its pre-Julian Bond years. After Bond took over as board chairman, the NAACP morphed from the nation's oldest and most esteemed civil rights organization into its most bilious and annoying one.

Bond has now departed as chairman, replaced by Roslyn M. Brock. Benjamin Todd Jealous is now the NAACP president and chief executive officer. Both have received praise and should be a welcome relief from the years of the Bond regime, but it's doubtful that even they can undo the damage to the NAACP's rep that Bond caused.

During this year's convention, delegates passed a resolution attacking the Tea Party movement. I don't want to be accused of misquoting or misconstruing the delegates' message, so I'll quote directly from the organization's Web site.

"Today, NAACP delegates passed a resolution to condemn extremist elements within the Tea Party, calling on Tea Party leaders to repudiate those in its ranks who use racist language in their signs and speeches. The resolution came after a year of high-profile media coverage of attendees of Tea Party marches using vial, antagonistic racial slurs and images."

I stopped reading at that point, pondering who it was that confused the word "vial" with "vile." But you get the point: The NAACP has condemned those elements within the Tea Party movement -- not the "Tea Party," since it is not an officially established political party -- who carry racist signs and use racist language. I have no problem with that.

But where's the NAACP resolution condemning those members of the New Black Panther Party who were accused of not only using vial -- excuse me, VILE -- racist language at Philadelphia polls in 2008, but also of intimidating voters?

The incident has been in the news the past two years. The Justice Department brought charges of voter intimidation against three NBPP members; the case was dropped against two of the men after current Attorney General Eric Holder took office. No explanation about why the charges were dropped has been given.

OK, so that's not entirely accurate. According to news reports, a Justice Department spokesman said the charges were dropped "based on a careful assessment of the facts and the law." But no one in the Justice Department has come forth to tell the nation exactly what the hell that means.

Apparently, it means nothing to NAACP delegates, who seem to have forgotten that their organization was started by blacks and whites. And voter intimidation of black and white Republicans in former Confederate states is one of the things that led to the formation of the NAACP.

If NAACP delegates wanted to get in the condemnation resolution business, they might have started with one condemning Holder for his Harpo Marx act on this NBPP business. They might also have wanted to make some in-house resolutions of condemnation.

Wouldn't it have been nice to see NAACP delegates pass a resolution condemning that "issue ad" the NAACP Voter Education Fund aired in 2000? You know, the one that implied then-presidential candidate George W. Bush was a racist who supported lynching?

Bond tried to distance the NAACP proper from that ad by pointing out that the Voter Fund and the NAACP are two different organizations. But then he defended the "truth" of the ad. That brings up another resolution NAACP delegates should have passed.

The one condemning Bond for practicing demagoguery without a license.

Examiner Columnist Gregory Kane is a Pulitzer-nominated news and opinion journalist who has covered people and politics from Baltimore to the Sudan.

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Gregory Kane

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Examiner columnist Gregory Kane is an award-winning journalist who lives in Baltimore.

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