On yesterday's "Face The Nation", the NAACP's Ben Jealous called upon David Webb -- representing the Tea Party Federation -- to
refudiate repudiate Mark Williams, the chairman of the Tea Party Express, for unhinged comments he made in the wake of the NAACP's call for the Tea Party movement to do a better job policing racists in its ranks.
Now, Williams is no more. Adam Serwer has the details:
This is what happened to Tea Party Express Chairman Mark Williams , who wrote a nasty piece of "satire" last week basically reinforcing every negative stereotype about black people you could imagine, and was then forced out of a Tea Party umbrella organization, the Tea Party Federation, sometime over the last few days.
"We, in the last 24 hours, have expelled Tea Party Express and Mark Williams from the National Tea Party Federation because of the letter that he wrote," Webb said of the blog post by Williams that satirized a fictional letter from what he called "Colored People" to President Abraham Lincoln.
[David] Webb called the blog post "clearly offensive."
Now, Williams has responded, tellingly, to his ouster. Per Evan McMorris-Santoro, in TPM:
"Apparently I have offended the tea party 'leadership,'" Williams wrote. "Mind you, there is no tea party leadership; every tea partier is a tea party leader. But something happens when the stronger egos and personalities in a movement begin to feel a sense of ownership. It is not long before they act to claim and defend that feeling."
Williams, who until a month ago was a national chairman of the Tea Party Express, claimed that Webb was trying to make a name for himself by taking on Williams.
"It is a crying shame," Williams wrote. "We are fighting for the future of not just this nation but for the future of Mankind. That's just a little more important than my fat head, or the apparently even fatter head [Webb] on Face the Nation Today [sic] who misrepresented himself as the tea party 'leader'."
One of the more interesting consequences of the NAACP's resolution seems to be that now the Tea Party movement is going to have to take some responsibility for having an actual organizing structure. At the very least, it raises the expectation that the movement should have an organization. In the past, it's vast amorphous nature was a tidy means by which it could extricate itself from the kind of accusations that the NAACP made in the first place. Saw a racist sign? Heard a Tea Party leader say something unhinged? Well, you cannot impugn the Judean Liberation Front for the actions of the Popular Liberation Front of Judea!
Believe it or not, this could benefit the Tea Party in the long run, should it choose to organize itself into some sort of third party alternative. The confusion that persists in places like Florida and Nevada, where all sorts of freelance candidates shroud themselves in the Tea Party mantle to the consternation of the larger organized bodies could be alleviated. Of course, the strongest tidal pull on the organization comes from Freedom Works, which desires the integration of these hopped-up insurgents into the larger GOP establishment. (Of course, maybe this movement of eliminationists will simply revert to form and eliminate one another.)
Regardless, there are going to be growing pains as the leaders who took advantage of the movement's leaderlessness find themselves in Mark Williams' shoes. Here's Against Me!, with a song for them. Growing up is hard!