The National Tea Party Federation has expelled one of its member groups over a racially charged blog post written by Mark Williams — a leader of a faction called Tea Party Express — that mocked the NAACP.
“We, in the last 24 hours, have expelled Tea Party Express and Mark Williams from the National Tea Party Federation because of the letter that he wrote which he, I guess, may have considered satire but which was clearly offensive,” said Federation spokesman David Webb Sunday on the CBS program “Face the Nation.”
“And that is what we do. Self-policing is the right and the responsibility of any movement or organization,” he added.
The National Tea Party Federation announced the action in a press release Saturday. The group said that a day earlier it gave the Tea Party Express until Saturday afternoon to kick Williams out and publicly rebuke him, but that did not occur.
“Last night, a member of the National Tea Party Federation communicated our decision directly to a member of the leadership team of Tea Party Express. That leader’s response was clear: they have no intention of taking the action we required for their group to continue as a member of the National Tea Party Federation,” the Saturday press release states. “Therefore, effective immediately the National Tea Party Federation is expelling Tea Party Express from the ranks of our membership.”
The action stems from a blog post written several days ago by Williams, a conservative radio host and commentator who is listed as a spokesman for the Tea Party Express on its website.
Williams wrote a mock letter to President Abraham Lincoln from Benjamin Jealous, the president of the NAACP. It came on the heels of the NAACP’s July 13 passage of a resolution calling on Tea Party leaders to repudiate racist elements of the movement.
The mock letter begins: “We Colored People have taken a vote and decided that we don’t cotton to that whole emancipation thing. Freedom means having to work for real, think for ourselves, and take consequences along with the rewards. That is just far too much to ask of us Colored People and we demand that it stop!”
Elsewhere the letter mockingly opposes the Tea Party position against federal financial bailouts.
“The tea party position to ‘end the bailout’ for example is just silly. Bailouts are just big money welfare and isn’t that what we want all Coloreds to strive for? What kind of racist would want to end big money welfare?” it states. It ends with an appeal to overturn the abolition of slavery and “let us get back to where we belong.”
Williams has removed the post from his website.
The expulsion comes amid a broader debate over the extent of racism in the Tea Party movement.
Jealous, who also appeared on the CBS program, praised the action against Williams and thanked Webb.
“You are the only national Tea Party leader who I’ve seen come out and publicly state the things that you’ve stated. And taking on Mark Williams was much appreciated,” Jealous said.
But he also attacked Webb’s assertion that Williams is not a leader in the Tea Party movement.
“Thank you for taking action in the last 24 hours. But you’re also being disingenuous when you say that a man who’s the founder of Tea Party Express, who is on TV as their national spokesman, hasn’t been a Tea Party leader. He absolutely was,” Jealous said.