Rep. Carson defends controversial tea party slam
August 31st, 2011
08:54 PM ET
10 years ago

Rep. Carson defends controversial tea party slam

LOS ANGELES (CNN) - As members of the Congressional Black Caucus converged in Los Angeles for its final national job fair series, one of its ranking members responded to his own previous inflammatory comments in Miami about the tea party, comparing their movement to Jim Crow laws that segregated and marginalized African Americans in society.

A video surfaced Tuesday on, a website run by conservative host Glenn Beck, that shows Rep. Andre Carson, D- Indiana, who holds a leadership role in the CBC, at an August 22 event in Florida.

"Some of these folks in Congress would love to see us as second-class citizens. Some of them in Congress right now of this tea party movement would love to see you and me ... hanging on a tree," Carson said, according to the audio.

On Wednesday, Carson told CNN he stood by those remarks.

“Well, I wasn't talking about the entire tea party. I think the tea party is absolutely right when they call for increased transparency in government, when they call for a cutback on excessive government spending. I am deeply concerned about some elements of the tea party who are extremist and who have reflected a mentality going back to the John Birch society, going back to George Wallace's Dixiecrats,” Carson said.

Tea party officials have previously renounced characterizations that their movement is racist. Carson said he believes the vitriolic political environment has encouraged increased attacks on minority groups.

And earlier Wednesday, Jason Tomsci, a Carson aide, said the congressman's sentiments were valid. “Members of the tea party are holding up a lot of things that the president wants to do and want to gut critical services and programs that they know are important to African Americans as well as Latinos and other minorities," Tomsci said.

"There have been elements who have expressed, that have expressed deep hostilities toward African Americans, Latinos, immigrants as well, so I am concerned about those elements that are taking us off-track as a country,” Carson said.

The Los Angeles job fair brought out an estimated crowd of 20,000 people, revealing the scope and magnitude of urban unemployment among African-Americans.

Carson said he was not regretful or in need of apologizing.

"I stand on the truth of what I spoke,” he said. “My intentions weren't to hurt anyone or any group. I wanted to speak to the issues that concern me and the philosophical issues that concern me as it relates to certain leadership within the tea party organization, not the entire tea party, but certain elements that have concerned me deeply and for quite some time that I think should really re-evaluate what it means to be an American and we shouldn't go along the path of taking America back to the ‘good old days’ because those days were not good for everyone.”

The final stop of the CBC job fair followed events in Cleveland, Detroit, Atlanta and Miami. The Los Angeles job fair was hosted by California Rep. Maxine Waters, and co-hosted by California Reps. Laura Richardson and Karen Bass, all Democrats.

soundoff (187 Responses)
  1. Billy Davis

    I agree the Tea Party doesn't have the good of all Americans at heart and they certainly are racist against our POTUS. However, Mr. Carson your comments and defense of them are a big FAIL!!!

    September 1, 2011 04:59 am at 4:59 am |
  2. Theuglytruth

    He was not slamming the tea baggers. He was just saying out loud what everyone already knows.

    September 1, 2011 05:04 am at 5:04 am |
  3. bob

    I think that it is sad but true what Carson said and I am a white man. Romney,Limbaugh,Palin, Rove, etc. needs to re-evaluate what it really means to be an American.We need leadership for all people not for some. Our country is hated by many in the world.It is insane to promote or encourage divisiveness in any form in our own country. I believe that anyone that loves their country would support it, thats what made this country the greatest in the world. But a house divided will not stand. I may not agree with some of the Obamas policies but it appears he is the lessor of two evils.

    September 1, 2011 05:26 am at 5:26 am |
  4. Bryce

    I grow tired of people like this trying to bring down the Tea Party. Okay I don't agree with everything they stand for, but I am glad that they brought to light the debt problems this Nation has. And yes give credit where credit is due they brought it to live by standing up and being counted kudos for them. What Rep Carson is doing is wrong on so many levels, he is trying to gather concensus through the mob and not the issues. I vote independant and right now I lean Republican since they are the only ones putting forth a detailed plan. That is one aspect I am currently disliking about these Democrats.

    September 1, 2011 05:41 am at 5:41 am |
  5. IndyJ

    How many times can the racism card be played simply because one objects to another person's political views?

    September 1, 2011 05:43 am at 5:43 am |
  6. Marcus


    As a Hispanic American, I do not need help from the Government. I am not a Tea Party member, nor am I Republican, but I am a Conservative slightly to the Right. I have made my own way in this world. If I can do it, any other minority in this realm can do it too. I do not need help from the Government. I pay Taxes, (my fair share) and I am happy to because I understand that as a citizen of a civilized Nation, infrastructure and laws are required. Therefore I am HAPPY to pay, but I do not enjoy seeing my "contribution" going to a Government who has of recently, shown complete irresponsibility on fiscal matters. I will not give a drunk another drink. Unless Washington can show that they are going to straigten up, DO NOT call for more of my money to be given to DC when my family's own needs will be cut out from under them.

    September 1, 2011 05:45 am at 5:45 am |

    To the tee party, truth hurts don't it?

    September 1, 2011 05:47 am at 5:47 am |

    There have been surveys done that clearly show "tee" party membrs tend to be bigots.

    September 1, 2011 05:49 am at 5:49 am |

    He's right. The teabaggers are a refelection of America in general where racism is alive and well. They still can't believe or accept that there is a black President. Their misspelled signs say it all.

    September 1, 2011 05:52 am at 5:52 am |
  10. Alan

    This guy is incompitent. He can't name one thing the Tea Party has done that is even remotely biased. All they advocate is a balanced budget. If black people view that as racist then maybe they should check their position in this society. If they are so engrossed in government handouts and welfare that it is racist to get people to work and off of handouts, maybe it is the BLACK community that is racist.

    September 1, 2011 05:57 am at 5:57 am |
  11. enough of lies

    This guy is calling for a race war with his racists remarks, he condones violence and with this kind of talk he may get his wish. You are not a man, you are a racists who is calling for a race war as you and obama sit in your throne and look to start something that you cannot win, my suggestion is to back track quickly before you bring forth a monster that will destroy you.

    September 1, 2011 06:01 am at 6:01 am |
  12. studdmuffins

    Anyone who decries his comment must be a racist. Yeah, that's it. Ad hominem.

    September 1, 2011 06:03 am at 6:03 am |
  13. blf83

    Carson doesn't need to apologize. Tea arty rhetoric is often just poorly-veiled racism.

    September 1, 2011 06:05 am at 6:05 am |
  14. Alan

    Can democrats ever run a campaign on what they propose to do? All they ever run on is the racist/hater/bigot card. What do they intend to do? Are they saying status quo deficits are a good thing? Are they saying generational welfare is owed them? Are they saying illegal/unfunded wars are okay as long as they're started by a democrat president? What is it?

    September 1, 2011 06:10 am at 6:10 am |
  15. shawnl

    He didn't say anything racial, just statments of fact. And for those who wonder, I am white.

    September 1, 2011 06:15 am at 6:15 am |
  16. HeWhoKnows

    Of course there's racist in the Tea Party. There's also racists in the Democratic Party and racists in the Republican Party. Sounds to me like Rep. Carson is a bit of a racist himself that delights in playing the race card when it suits him. Smart politician? Maybe. A bit intolerant towards those with opposing views? Definitely. Seems like every politician with different views from another is considered "racist" these days.

    September 1, 2011 06:33 am at 6:33 am |
  17. zb

    He is absolutely correct! The core screaming points of the Republican/TParty are exactly the same as the "Old South" that led to the Civil War. The southern battle cry of "State's Rights" really meant the right to exploit people: workers, woman, children, the environment while protecting the rich and powerful gentrified class.

    Today's Republican/Tparty is essentially trying to refight the civil war and every evil thing the south stood for. Needless to say just as many working and poor southern whites who were actually oppressed themselves by slavery (ie, slavery kept wages and opportunity down while concentrating power in the hands of a few) through the use of hollow emotional and religious appeals about freedom and way of life, many of today's Republican/TParty are acting against their own financial and personal interest through appeals to the same kind of flag waving, freedom shouting demagoguery of today. The fact that all of the Policies of the Republican/Tparty fall hardest on woman, minorities, the poor, the old, and the sick is racist. They don't have to actually say the words racist, their policies and their history says it all for them.

    The Republican/Tparty is in a race to drag us down to the lowest level. Instead of making America a better place that others have to rise up to, they want to make us as safe for exploitation, ignorance, hate, and stupidity as the most oppressed nations in the world. Under GW Bush and the Republican they already did a pretty good job of accomplishing that.

    How stupid are we for anyone in this country even thinking that the answer to the problems caused by the Republican/Tparty is more of the Republican/Tparty.

    September 1, 2011 06:37 am at 6:37 am |
  18. Richard

    If it weren't for continual race-bating and the business of perpetual victimhood, many minority legislators would be out of work. Representative Carson knows this, and counts on the uneducated and unsophisticated in his constituency to help him fan the flames. If the present situation was as bad has he claims, there would be no black president, no black congressmen, no black mayors, no blacks in positions of authority. While his statements slamming the tea party may not be accurate, they generate headlines. Would his statement had received as much play if he blamed neo-Nazis, the KKK, or other extremist groups? No, and because the Tea Party is opposed to Obama's sweeping socialization of American government, they become a pet whipping boy of the permanent victim class.

    September 1, 2011 06:39 am at 6:39 am |
  19. JustSaying2U

    I can't see anything wrong with the Congressman's statement. He told the truth, and that, in the eyes of the Tea Party, is his biggest offense.

    September 1, 2011 06:40 am at 6:40 am |
  20. TomInRochNY

    I just have concerns that the majority of Tea Party members are just plain nuts.

    September 1, 2011 06:40 am at 6:40 am |
  21. ben burnett

    Rep. Carson is racist when he says gov cuts will hurt only minorities. He is implying that only minorities are dependent on welfare. Plenty of minorities have jobs and pay taxes. Also they don't rely on the gov for their income as Rep. Carsoon does!

    September 1, 2011 06:41 am at 6:41 am |
  22. The Greedy Old PIgs have declared class war on US!

    Right on, Rep. Carson. The racism on the extreme right is obvious. Not all rightwingers are racists, though an awful lot of racists are rightwingers. The evidence is quite obvious, even aside from the blatantly racist signs and postings on RW websites. In particular, notice how a moderate like President Obama is attacked for things that no white president has ever been attacked for before.

    More broadly, though, people of all colors and creeds should recognize that the GOBP and the rightwing extremists aren't just about racism. They also practice ageism, sexism, classism and religious discrimination. All of us sane and compassionate human beings need to recognize the darkness that lies in the hearts of these damaged people, who seek only to separate and place themselves above "The Other." Theirs is essentially a philosophy of fear, based on ignorance and an inability to love in anything resembling a healthy way. It must be terrible to live such a life. Nevertheless, we must quarantine such toxic attitudes from our society and politics by constantly opposing all attempts to return mankind to the darkness of fear, hate and ignorance.

    September 1, 2011 06:41 am at 6:41 am |
  23. Tom

    If that is not a racist comment (Hanging on a Tree) then I truly don't not what is. Sometimes it is hard to see where we can be wrong ourselves. Talk like this has no place anywhere in our society, especially from a politician that should leading by example.

    September 1, 2011 06:43 am at 6:43 am |
  24. Don Jones

    This country was built on violence and racism. Racism is the achilles heel of our nation and we have never dealt with it. From the holocaust perpetrated on our native people, to the enslavement of a race through the 1700 and 1800's, through the Vietnam war-racism has guided our every move. We either deal with it or it will be our downfall. Read Howard Zinn and Kevin Boyle and get educated. It might be too late.

    September 1, 2011 06:44 am at 6:44 am |
  25. Anonymous

    Congressman Carson is a finger waving, racist pig who only got into office on his last name! I am ashamed to call him a Hoosier! Tea Party members are NOT racist... they simply want this country to get back to following the Constitution, is that so bad? If Congressman Carson would've spent any time studying American History he would know his party is responsible for all those terrible things done years ago to Black Americans. Congressman Carson should resign, find a rock and crawl under it! Please Indianapolis... you have got to find a better person than Congressman Carson to represent Indiana in Congress!

    September 1, 2011 06:45 am at 6:45 am |
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