July 16th, 2010
08:50 PM ET
11 years ago

Satirical letter meant to spark discussion, Tea Party leader says

(CNN) – A member of the Tea Party Express leadership defended a satirical letter Friday that he says was intended to spark discussion but has instead erupted into a national controversy.

Saying he wanted to make a "serious point about the hypocrisy in the NAACP" and that he hoped to "get the dialogue going," Tea Party Express spokesman Mark Williams said on CNN's John King, USA that he has made some apologies because "what I said, and the way I said it, was getting in the way."

Earlier this week, and apparently in reaction to an NAACP resolution regarding racist behavior exhibited by some attendees at Tea Party events, Williams published a mock letter from NAACP president Benjamin Jealous to the late President Abraham Lincoln, which Williams has since removed from his blog.

"Dear Mr. Lincoln," the blog post read, "We [National Association for the Advancement of] 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 [National Association for the Advancement of] Colored People and we demand that it stop!"

And on Friday, while sometimes sounding a note of contrition, Williams said that the blog post did what he intended.

"What I did was successful, and I'm glad it was successful. I'm sorry I had to go to those lengths to slap some sense into a lot of people who are so afraid of politically incorrect language that we can't get a conversation started," Williams told CNN Chief National Correspondent John King.

But in the course of defending his post, Williams said that the NAACP resolution passed earlier this week in Kansas City was the work of "race baiters."

"I would have far preferred to be on stage at the NAACP convention explaining to the assembled membership why it was so important for them to join with the Tea Party movement rather than stand there, listening to screeds from race baiters about what racists we were, because that was a complete lie," Williams said.

Williams made several modifications to his blog post after its initial posting, including removing references to bailouts as "big money welfare" that should handed "directly to us coloreds" and Tea Party demands for lower taxes preventing black Americans from getting "a wide-screen TV in every room." He said on his website that he made the changes after listening to "reasonable" commenters who suggested his language was not helpful.

In a personal note on his blog posted Friday afternoon, Williams explained his decision to remove the controversial mock letter entirely.

"I learned this morning that Ben Jealous, author of the NAACP anti-tea party resolution has offered something of an olive branch and wants to open discussions with tea partiers regarding dialing down the unproductive shots going back and forth," Williams wrote.

Although Jealous disputed the version of events offered by Williams, the civil rights leader said he was open to meeting with the Tea Party activist.

"I have not reached out to Mark Williams nor have we made statements against the Tea Party. We have simply called on the leaders to repudiate racist elements in their ranks … If Mark Williams does so, I would be happy to sit down and talk with him," Jealous said in a statement to CNN.

- CNN's Martina Stewart and Roland S. Martin contributed to this report

Filed under: JKUSA • John King USA • Mark Williams • Popular Posts • Tea Party movement
soundoff (209 Responses)
  1. Appreciate the ignorance

    Um, I guess we all now understand what the Teabaggers are all about. There is nothing coy or secret about the racism that permeates their "party". These poor excuses for Americans have taken over the republican party, and are finding supporters with their pathetic appeal to the worst in our human nature. Evidently this is the best the republicans can do. It is sad that our country has bred this hate and intolerance. God help us.

    July 17, 2010 01:27 am at 1:27 am |

    tick tock tea baggers.....

    July 17, 2010 01:32 am at 1:32 am |
  3. laylah

    Why does CNN continue to give this idiot a forum? If you actually believe his "explanation" I've got some water in the Gulf that I'd like to sell you..

    July 17, 2010 01:34 am at 1:34 am |
  4. chatmandu002

    Come on MSM and NAACP show us the racism that you claim the Tea Party is involved in. There is nothing, nada, zip of any racism from the Tea Party.
    Playing the race card is all the MSM and NAACP can play to denigrate the Tea Party.
    The Tea Part platform is:

    Fiscal responsibility
    Constitutionally limited government
    Free markets

    Nothing racist about this.

    July 17, 2010 01:36 am at 1:36 am |
  5. Bob in PA

    IThe letter was satirical and even at some level almost humorous. For the NAACP to condem another group of loosly joined people as being racist because they will not condemm some of the supposed racist people who support the movement is ridiculous. No one can provide any actual evidencec of any racist or violent action from any Tea Party rally or protest. The Tea Party rallies have been the most peaceful and respectful demonstrations conducted in DC in decades.

    The NAACP has been reduced to a political puppet of the socialist wing of Democratic party. They used to be about civil rights, equality and true freedom for all people They are now character assasins for hire. It is truely a sad sad day in America to have come so far only to revert back on a course of ensalving people by their government. I say support the Tea Party, support freedom and equality for all races and colors.

    July 17, 2010 01:40 am at 1:40 am |
  6. Joe, San Diego

    Start a dialogue riiight... he was receiving death threats... black, white, tan and brown its all good inside!

    July 17, 2010 01:42 am at 1:42 am |
  7. Gasman

    So, Williams is "sorry" that he "slap[ped] some sense into" the "colored" people? How can any sentient being contend that his letter is not the smoking gun which forever brands the Tea Partiers as racists? This was not humorous, it was not metaphor, it was not a thoughtful attempt at promoting dialogue. This was ignorant bigotry.

    You can't have a gathering of two Tea Partiers without having at least one racist sign. Show me ANY significant gathering of Tea Partiers that does/did not contain a very visible presence of racist signs and images and then you can claim that their primary animus is not racial.

    July 17, 2010 01:44 am at 1:44 am |
  8. Bryan

    Also loved the quote of him saying the the NAACP was an organization that was racist because they insisted on being called "Colored". Well, Mr. Williams, we all know you prefer another word huh? Perhaps a 6 letter word starting with N? Your organization is a disgrace to tolerate Americans. Colored is much better than your term.

    July 17, 2010 01:46 am at 1:46 am |
  9. brianInMesa

    This is a leader of the "tea party"? I have thought for some time that these people need help and this just cements that feeling.
    Whatever part of 'MY" country these people (tea whatever) have, I want back.
    I can remember when Raygun turned out all the crazies from the mental institutions. They have reproduced.

    July 17, 2010 01:50 am at 1:50 am |
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