A “Tea Party” group on Friday held a session at the Conservative Political Action Conference that was supposed to teach attendees how to persuade black voters, that instead turned into a shouting match between a black woman and a white separatist.
According to Talking Points Memo’s Benjy Sarlin, the trouble began at the “Trump The Race Card: Are You Sick And Tired Of Being Called A Racist When You Know You’re Not One?” session when the black conservative leading it, K. Carl Smith, began describing the Democratic Party as the party of the KKK, and urging white conservatives to begin referring to themselves as “Frederick Douglass Republicans.”
“I don’t care how much the KKK improved,” he said. “I’m not going to join the KKK. The Democratic Party founded the KKK.”
Lines like that drew shouts of praise from some attendees and murmurs of disapproval from one non-conservative black attendee, Kim Brown, a radio host and producer with Voice of Russia, a broadcasting service of the Russian government.
But then questions and answers began. And things went off the rails.
Scott Terry of North Carolina, accompanied by a Confederate-flag-clad attendee, Matthew Heimbach, rose to say he took offense to the event’s take on slavery. (Heimbach founded the White Students Union at Towson University and is described as a “white nationalist” by the Southern Poverty Law Center.)
“It seems to be that you’re reaching out to voters at the expense of young white Southern males,” Terry said, adding he “came to love my people and culture” who were “being systematically disenfranchised.”
At that point, Smith told Terry that Douglass “forgave his slavemaster,” to which Terry responded, “for giving him shelter and food?”
The scene soon included lots of shouting, plenty of booing (mostly of Brown.)
Think Progress reports that Terry:
… asked whether Republicans could endorse races remaining separate but equal. After the presenter, K. Carl Smith of Frederick Douglass Republicans, answered by referencing a letter by Frederick Douglass forgiving his former master, the audience member said “For what? For feeding him and housing him?” Several people in the audience cheered and applauded Terry’s outburst.
After the exchange, Terry muttered under his breath, “why can’t we just have segregation?” noting the Constitution’s protections for freedom of association
A spokesman for the Tea Party Patriots later issued a statement from Smith, saying:
I was invited by the Tea Party Patriots to conduct a breakout session entitled: “Trump The Race Card” and share the Frederick Douglass Republican Message. In the middle of my delivery, while discussing the 1848 “Women’s Rights Convention,” I was rudely interrupted by a woman working for the Voice of Russia. She abruptly asked me: “How many black women were there?” This question was intentionally disruptive and coercive with no way of creating a positive dialogue.
In addition, a young man who wasn’t a Tea Party Patriot, made some racially insensitive comments, he said: “Blacks should be happy that the slave master gave them shelter, clothing, and food.” At the conclusion of the breakout session, I further explained to him the Frederick Douglass Republican Message which he embraced, bought a book, and we left as friends.