from Politico, By Andy Barr
NAACP President Ben Jealous said Thursday that the resolution passed by the group on Wednesday does not call the tea party "racist."
The resolution the NAACP approved Wednesday at its annual conference in Kansas City, Mo., alleges that the tea party has used racial epithets against President Barack Obama and has verbally and physically abused African-American members of Congress.
A portion of the resolution does indeed characterize the behavior as "racist," but Jealous said Thursday during an interview on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" that the resolution was not intended to condemn the entire movement as such.
"We aren't saying that the tea party is racist," Jealous said. "What we're saying is that with their increasing power comes an increasing responsibility to act responsibly and to call out when they see those things on those signs."
Jealous argued that racist groups have embraced the tea party movement and said that what the NAACP would like to see is one of the movement's leaders -- whether it be former House Majority Leader Dick Armey or former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin -- denounce those elements of the tea party.
"These sort of KKK-type groups saying they like the tea party and want to be a part of it, it would just seem someone would call out and say we don't want them to be a part of it," he said.
Asked if he thought members of the tea party are racially insensitive, Jealous responded: "No, not at all."
The NAACP was attacked over the resolution by the likes of Palin, Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele and South Carolina congressional candidate Tim Scott, who if elected would be the first African-American Republican in the House since Rep. J.C. Watts (R-Okla.) left in January 2003.
"I believe that the NAACP is making a grave mistake in stereotyping a diverse group of Americans who care deeply about their country and who contribute their time, energy and resources to make a difference," Scott said in a statement.
"Americans need to know that the tea party is a colorblind movement that has principled differences with many of the leaders in Washington, both Democrats and Republicans," he added.
Asked about Scott's criticism, Jealous said that "Tim was making a false argument."
"We weren't calling anyone racist," he said. "We've just got to speak up and say something."
"If there are not violent elements in the tea party, then why are we getting death threats?" he asked. "I'd ask the tea party to get rid of them."