The NAACP's resolution condemning what it calls racist elements within the Tea Party is drawing fire from top Tea Party supporters, including Sarah Palin, as the civil rights group's president insists the party needs to "expel racists from the ranks."
"For more than a year we've watched as Tea Party members have called congressmen the N-word, have called congressmen the F-word. We see them carry racist signs and whenever it happens, the membership tries to shirk responsibility," NAACP President Ben Jealous said in an interview with ABC News. "If the Tea Party wants to be respected and wants to be part of the mainstream in this country, they have to take responsibility."
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People this evening unanimously passed a resolution that calls on Tea Party members to repudiate what Jealous says are "ultra-nationalist and racist factions within the organization."
The resolution said the Tea Party members have used "racial epithets," have verbally abused black members of Congress and threatened them, and protestors have engaged in "explicitly racist behavior" and "displayed signs and posters intended to degrade people of color generally and President Barack Obama specifically."
Jealous specifically pointed to signs at rallies portraying President Obama as a witch doctor, and to claims made by Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., and Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, D-Mo., that Tea Party protestors opposing health care reform hurled racial slurs at them.
"They need to be unequivocal and they need to be responsible and get the bigots out of their organization. It's that simple," Jealous added.
Tea Party supporters have denied allegations of racism and argue that there is no proof to support the NAACP's claims. Conservative commentator Andrew Breitbart even offered $100,000 to anyone who could produce an audio recording or video footage of the "N-word" being hurled at Rep. Lewis and other members of Congress.
The St. Louis Tea Party coalition on Monday evening passed a resolution of its own condemning the NAACP for "hypocritically engaging in the very conduct it purports to oppose." The resolution calls on the NAACP to withdraw its resolution. It even urges the IRS to reconsider its tax-exempt status of the NAACP because of what the Tea Party coalition dubbed the organization's "habitual partisan political behavior."
Former Alaska Gov. Palin, a vocal advocate of the Tea Party movement, jumped into the heated race debate Monday night, assailing the NAACP resolution as an example of "typical divisive politics that is so absolutely unnecessary."
"The Tea Party movement is a beautiful movement, full of diverse people, diverse backgrounds," Palin said on Fox News' "Hannity." "It's very unfortunate that they are taking this tactic because it's a false accusation that Tea Party Americans are racist. Any good American hates racism. We don't stand for it. It is unacceptable."
Palin in turn called on President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama to "repudiate" the resolution and "set the record straight."
The former GOP vice presidential candidate tweeted her support for the Tea Party again today: "I'm busy today so notify me asap when NAACP renders verdict: are liberty-loving, equality-respecting patriots racist? Bated breath,waiting..."
Other Tea Party loyalists charge the NAACP's charges are driven solely by political motivations and are misguided.