America has a dark past. We all know it. We had slavery in this country. Does it matter that virtually all countries in the world had slavery within their borders at some time historically? I guess not. But, it would be a good idea to keep that in mind before conducting yet another round of self-flagellation on the topic.
We launched this nation with the founders divided deeply on the question. Slavery was part of the economic fabric at the time of the Revolution. Many of the Framers held slaves themselves. Many argued persuasively against the practice. Some discussed how to correct the problem, even while still holding humans in bondage. Hamilton opposed slavery vigorously. Adams staunchly opposed it. Washington held many slaves but sought to provide them the most humane treatment. Jefferson, quite literally, embraced slaves while writing of plans for eventual abolition. Yet, even Jefferson was reluctant to link that emancipation with integration in American society.
Overlay that with the necessity of finding a solution for representation in a legislature for the new nation. The regretable solution was the infamous 3/5 compromise which sought to prohibit the expansion of slavery in the future but in the present offered the degrading proposition of counting a slave as 3/5 of a person. It wasn't a statement of diminution so much as a political solution. It recognized the realities of the economy, the impact of the slaves on governmental infrastructure and the counter that slaves did not pay taxes, own property or vote. It was a means to an end which was a solution to representation. Yet, it still is viewed by many as a prevailing attitude of racial discimination.
We fought a Civil War on the question eventually and despite the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments there was still institutionalized discrimination in America well into the 20th century. Segregation was alive and well when I was a child. I saw it when we vacationed in Florida and drove through the American South. I recognized it when we drove to the southside of Chicago to visit relatives. It was real.
The NAACP was instituted to do what the name implies, advance the people in society. The 1950's brought us Brown v BOE and school integration. Barriers crumbled. The '60s got us civil rights acts and voting rights acts and Freedom Riders. It set the groundwork for equal opportunity and even affirmative action. It elevated Martin Luther King to national icon and made his "Dream" speech familiar to all of us. The phrase about "content of character" as a basis of evaluation rather than "color of his skin" made so much sense that everyone could recite the line by heart.
It's been fifty years since that civil rights revolution. De jure segregation is long gone and de facto segregation is blessedly rare. Of course there is still racism in America. There are dozens of "isms" and there always will be. Humans are basically flawed and prejudice is always lurking.
But, maybe you noticed that we've got an African-American President. The Congress of the United States has a Black Caucus. The Cabinet is a rainbow coalition. There is a Black Supreme Court Justice and there has been for forty years. It is very difficult to claim institutionalized racism in America today.
Why then this:
NAACP Condemns TEA Party as Racist
Is this creating a bogeyman? Does this seek to create an impression about a political protest movement which is in opposition to high taxes, high deficits, redistribution of wealth, centralization of government control, nationalization of major industries, dismantling of free enterprise and gutting our Constitutional freedoms? Can you really equate the movement with racism?
There was a childhood story we all were told about a shepherd boy who learned that he could get attention and responses by running to the people and crying "Wolf!" He did it too often and when the real wolf showed up the people ignored him. Wolf's menu de jour had lamb chops followed by shepherd pie with real shepherd.
I'm thinking that we are way too far downstream for this NAACP cry of "Wolf!" to have any sort of impact anymore.
They would be much better served by focussing on advancing the people rather than attacking other people. They would do well to focus on education, families, child-rearing, principled behavior and enhancing their culture. They should be working on crime in their communities, the drug culture, fatherless children, objectification of women, and building their country as a part of the whole. They should focus on the content of their character rather than the color of their own skin. We can all work together much more effectively when we recognize our goals in common.