A day after he posted a screed to his personal website calling the NAACP “racist” for using the word “colored” in its name, the Tea Party Express’ Mark Williams has taken the post down and called upon tea partiers and NAACP activists alike “to fight those who seek to divide us by race, no matter the color of the racist.”
These are the words of a man who, yesterday, posted a faux letter from NAACP President Ben Jealous — whom he called “Tom’s Nephew” in the letter — to Abraham Lincoln meant as a protest of the recent NAACP resolution calling on tea party leaders (like, for example, Williams) to disavow racist signs and rhetoric that have been at least a small part of some tea party gatherings. A sample of the fake letter, now removed from Williams’ blog:
Perhaps the most racist point of all in the tea parties is their demand that government “stop raising our taxes.” That is outrageous! How will we Colored People ever get a wide screen TV in every room if non-coloreds get to keep what they earn? Totally racist! The tea party expects coloreds to be productive members of society?
Under pressure from critics, Williams says that he first altered the post before removing it all together today:
“[Y]es, there were several versions,” he writes on his blog. “As reasonable people pointed out to me wording that I agreed was indeed objectionable was removed or changed.”
So Williams may have realized that his post came off, well, pretty darn racist at points. But that’s not why he took it down in the end. That, he writes, came because the NAACP leaders “realize their error and seek to mend fences.” From the post:
I learned this morning that Ben Jealous, author of the NAACP anti-tea party resolution has offered something of an olive branch and will open discussions with tea partiers regarding dialing down the unproductive shots going back and forth … Following what I believe to be a sincere move by Mr. Jealous I recognize that I have a responsibility to act in kind (just as I did in response to the NAACP’s anti-tea party resolution and what was said about us) and that the continued controversy over this post can only dectract from the discussions.
Williams writes that he removed the post as “a reciprocal gesture” to Jealous. He also expresses some contrition over the rhetoric he admits “many very sober and thoughtful people” told him was “an obstacle to progress”:
The day that I cannot learn something new will be the one following the coroner’s signature on my death certificate and this is not that day. So, with that I reiterate what I and every tea partier have said repeatedly: We denounce racists and any who seek to divide the American People along any lines.
But in the end, it’s not entirely clear that Williams learned a thing when it comes to what made his blog post — which at one point had his “Tom’s Nephew” Jealous character ask Lincoln to “repeal the 13th and 14th Amendments and let us get back to where we belong” — offensive to so many. From today’s post:
I would suggest to those offended by the term “Colored People” (the phrase that made my article so controversial) please contact the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and join me in calling for an end to their use of the racial slur.
Read Williams’ updated blog post here.