While the president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People demanded that the tea party “expel the bigots and racists,” WND founder and CEO Joseph Farah befuddled a guest on Sean Hannity’s radio show with the simple challenge: Show me the racism.
“The NAACP is saying that this racism has been manifested in the signs and posters of the tea party,” said Farah, referring to NAACP President Ben Jealous’ charge of tea-party “cowards” hiding behind signs reading “Lynch our president.”
“I can tell you,” continued Farah, “as someone who has published a book where we had to look through literally thousands of signs and posters by the tea-party movement – because the total contents of the book are the signs and posters – never once, among all of the photographers that we examined, did we ever see any with even the slightest hints of racism. These are totally empty, baseless, groundless accusation.”
Farah shared the hour-long spot Tuesday with the Rev. Frank Madison Reid III of Bethel A.M.E. Church in Baltimore.
“For you to say that you’ve looked at all their posters,” said Reid, “you looked at many.”
“Well,” said Farah, “show us one. In order to make an accusation you ought to have some evidence. The burden of proof is on the person making the accusation.”
Throughout the interview, Reid appeared uncertain about the crux of the discussion. The exchange centered on reaction to the NAACP vote to accuse the tea party of racism amid recent revelations of its role in lobbying against prosecution of New Black Panther Party members charged with voter intimidation.
Former Justice Department attorney J. Christian Adams recently testified to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights about the Election Day 2008 case involving two Panthers who were videotaped guarding the entrance of a Philadelphia polling place clad in black fatigues and wielding a club. The Obama administration at first followed up on the Bush administration’s prosecution of the case but dismissed it in May 2009 – a month after three members of the party failed to appear in court.
“(Adams) is the guy prosecuting the case,” said Farah. “He wanted to move forward. He was appalled by the evidence against the defendants and he was told, ‘Drop it,’ because, ‘We have an attitude here black crimes on white victims don’t mean anything.'”
At this, Reid broke up laughing, saying, “Oh gracious.”
“I’m just listening and shaking my head because I don’t see what the Panthers’ incident has to do with the NAACP and the tea party,” Reid said.
In 1996, Reid co-authored a book with Colleen Birchett and the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Obama’s 20-year pastor and campaign “spiritual adviser” until footage, exposed by WND author and columnist Erik Rush, of Wright’s racist, anti-American rants stunned the nation and forced the then-senator to dismiss him.
Titled “When Black Men Stand Up for God: Reflections on the Million Man March,” the book appears on Amazon without crediting Reid – though his name is evident after enlarging a photo of the faded cover.
Reid cited an ABC poll “for the majority of tea-party members, racism is not the issue,” he said. “For them it is smaller government. But at the same time, the history of the United States of America is when you talk about smaller government, when you talk about states’ rights, these historically have been code words for racism of a minority.
“While it may not be a racist movement,” he continued, “we don’t want it to be a shield for racism either.”
“I appreciate, pastor, that you’re in an untenable position here,” said Farah, “because we’re debating facts here and the facts are not on your side.
“When the NAACP goes looking for racism where it doesn’t exist in the tea-party movement,” added Farah, “and ignores racism that is quite evident in the U.S. Justice Department – where we have sworn testimony that the New Black Panther Party defendants were not prosecuted because they were black and the victims were white – it’s interesting to me that the NAACP isn’t concerned about the possibility of racism in the U.S. Justice Department. But they’re concerned about racism in the tea-party movement where there’s no evidence to support it.”
Before the debate ended with Farah promising to send Reid – at his request – an autographed copy of his latest book, “The Tea Party Manifesto,” a baffling exchange rife with filibustering, evasiveness and awkward pauses occurred.
“If we had on Election Day,” Hannity asked, “a polling place with people in white hoods uttering racial epithets at African-Americans entering the polling place and banging on batons, would you want that behavior prosecuted?”
“Well,” said Reid, “I think that, um …”
“I would,” Farah interjected.
“The simple answer,” said Reid, “… racism in any shape, fashion or form is not right and should be investigated and should be dealt with.”
“You still haven’t answered my questions,” Hannity countered. “I’m trying to be as patient as I can be …”
“You’re doing a great job,” said Reid. “I’m excited for you.”
“My patience is running thin,” said Hannity.
“Why is your patience running thin when I asked your question directly?” answered Reid.
“You’re giving me platitudes,” said Hannity.”I’m asking you for a specific example. If we’re at the ballot box and it’s Election Day and there’s a guy in a white hood, a Klan member, or if he’s in paramilitary equipment and banging on a baton and he’s uttering racial epithets at people going to vote, should we condemn that and should they be prosecuted, yes or no?”
“It’s an easy one,” said Farah.
“It’s not an easy one,” said Reid. “… If I went to a polling place, and the Ku Klux Klan was trying to stop me from voting, then I would call the police and have them deal with it.”
Hannity countered that occurred in the New Black Panther Party incident.
“The police were called?” asked Reid. “They showed up? And then what happened? … And the civil case was brought right there that day? And the police didn’t take them away?”
“You’re making this far more difficult than it needs to be,” said Hannity. “If anybody at a voting place is trying to intimidate, hurling racial epithets at any individuals going to a polling place, and they’re dressed either in paramilitary garb or white hoods and they’re banging on batons – which is in violation of the law – should the Justice Department pursue charges against them?”
Another long pause.
Finally Hannity asked Farah.
“Absolutely,” said Farah. “That’s how easy it is.”
But Reid countered that it’s complicated because of the nation’s history of segregation and attempts to openly and intentionally deny blacks voting rights.
“I come from a generation that remembers what we went through to register to vote,” he said. “We not only were spit on, fired from our jobs, etc. and nothing was done.”
“Pastor,” said Farah, “with all due respect, I’m from the same generation. … I marched with Martin Luther King. Probably you did too. But this is a different time. This is 2010 now. Is it possible that things have changed in this country where we have a different kind of racial problem than we had in the early ’60s? Has that ever occurred to you or your friends at the NAACP? … Is it possible to be a black racist since it’s all about power, or is racism only a white disease?”
“Any individual can be xenophobic or racist,” Reid said. “The issue becomes does one have the power to enforce. That’s institutional racism.”
“Suppose you’re the attorney general of the United States and you put out an edict in the Justice Department that we’re not going prosecute black crimes against white victims,” said Farah, “wouldn’t that be institutional racism at its most obvious?”
“Is there evidence of that?” Reid asked.
“Yes, there’s evidence,” said Farah. “We’ve been discussing it.”
“That’s what the (Justice Department) whistleblower said,” said Hannity.
“How did we go,” asked Reid, “from the tea party to the Black Panther Party?”