Right wing talker Glenn Beck is at it again…
The former Fox News host, who runs his own multimedia company and hosts a popular conservative talk radio show, has in the past accused President Barack Obama of being a racist who “hates white people” and “the white culture,” and vowed to “reclaim the civil rights movement” on behalf of the overwhelmingly white Tea Party movement. Now, Beck is going after another of his favorite targets: the NAACP.
Responding to comments by NAACP Chairman Emeritus Julian Bond, who on MSNBC and in statements to theGrio, blasted Republicans for hypocrisy in attacking the IRS for reviewing tea party groups who sought tax exempt status from the IRS, but who had no such objections to the tax agency auditing the NAACP under George W. Bush. The NAACP faced a two-year IRS probe, launched, the agency said, because of statements by Bond that were critical of Bush and the Iraq war. And starting in December of 2000, Republican lawmakers in Washington wrote then then IRS commissioner, demanding that the NAACP be stripped of its tax exempt status over criticism by Bond and others of the Bush v. Gore Supreme Court decision that decided the presidential election in Bush’s favor.
Bush told MSNBC’s Thomas Roberts recently that he thinks it was “entirely legitimate to look at the tea party” groups who were seeking special tax status under the IRS’ 501(c)4 code.
“I mean, here are a group of people who are admittedly racist, who are overtly political, who tried as best they can to harm President [Barack] Obama in every way they can,” Bond said during the broadcast last Tuesday. “They are the Taliban wing of American politics and we all ought to be a little worried about them.”
And Bond summed up his views on what he calls the hypocrisy of the right in comments to theGrio, saying: “Black people audited — no big deal. Overwhelmingly white and racist Tea Party audited? Super outrage!”
In response, Beck unleashed a tirade against the NAACP during his radio show on Saturday, urging his listeners to “dismiss” the NAACP and adding:
…they are a joke, and an affront to everything that Martin Luther King and anybody who ever… Booker T. Washington, Frederick Douglass, you are an affront to their memory.
Beck had some choice words for the Obama White House too, claiming their “revenge, vengeance and spite” were akin to police brutality against blacks, and he went on to detail who he believed were the real targets of lynchings and racist persecution during King’s day, and asserted that neither Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. nor any of the other historic figures would have “had anything to do” with the NAACP today.
Martin Luther King marched with an awful lot of white people…20 percent of the lynchings in the south, 20 percent of the lynchings by the KKK, where of white people. And you know what? I contend, the white people that were lynched are exactly the type of people that would be in the Tea Party today.
Beck’s ongoing history problem
Beck might need to hire a fact checker. For one thing, according to annual statistics on lynchings compiled by the Tuskegee Institute, while in the years between 1882 and 1899, the share of whites killed by lynching was 39 percent, from 1900 through 1968, the average share of lynching victims who were white was just 8 percent. And there were 41 years during that 68 year period when the percentage of blacks who were lynched was 90 percent or more, versus 10 years when the percentage of whites was 19 percent or more.
The NAACP “was the first organization to really speak vehemently for black citizenship on a national level,” says historian Blair L.M. Kelley, who teaches history at North Carolina State University. “And it was a direct carryover of the legacy of Frederick Douglass.”
As for Beck’s convoluted formulation, throwing Douglass and Booker T. Washington, both born into slavery, 38 years apart, Kelley says Beck gets it wrong again, along with the actual history of the NAACP.
“So W.E.B. Dubois starts up something called the Niagara movement in response to Booker T. Washington’s attempts to blame lynching on the victims, and to discount racial terror in his effort to accommodate white supremacy” in the late 19th and early 20th century, Kelley says. But the Niagara Movement, which was all-Black, failed because Booker T. Washington, who was a favorite of white intellectuals and political leaders, including President Teddy Roosevelt, at the time, “essentially silences him.”
“So Dubois goes on to find some white activists, who were the children and grandchildren of abolitionists, who partnered with him, and they were the founders of the NAACP.” In fact, Kelley says, Dubois was the only black person in the earliest years of the NAACP who had a visible position. “So it is an interracial organization,” Kelley says. “It is now, and it always has been. The NAACP welcomes white members. It’s an organization that is interested in justice and equality for citizens in the U.S., period. So it’s completely ridiculous that an organization that grows out of interracial work at the turn of the century — at the nadir of race relations — somehow today becomes symbolic of black hate.”
Throw in the fact that King was himself a longtime member of the NAACP, including serving on the executive committee of the organization’s Montgomery branch well before the famed boycotts, and Kelley says, Beck is “speaking from an alternate universe.”
The current NAACP leadership including president Ben Jealous had no comment.
UPDATE: Julian Bond responded to Beck’s comments late Saturday, saying, “being called names by Glenn Beck is like being called ugly by a frog.” And correcting Glenn’s historical analysis, Bond added: “Dr. King’s taxes were targeted by Alabama officials, so he would understand how the NAACP felt when the IRS attacked the NAACP for political reasons.”
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