Have the rest of the movement’s leaders never noticed Williams’s rhetoric before now? His most recent obsession, before the NAACP flap, has been a crusade to halt construction of a mosque in lower Manhattan near Ground Zero. He has called the proposed structure a place where Muslims would honor the al-Qaeda hijackers and “worship the terrorists’ monkey-god.” He has called President Obama an “Indonesian Muslim turned welfare thug.”
If Williams is now a pariah in Tea Party circles, that’s progress. But this episode should prompt the national leadership to look inward and acknowledge — not just to the rest of us, but also to themselves — that ugly, racially charged rhetoric has been part of the movement’s stock in trade all along. If the Tea Party groundswell is to mature into something important and lasting, it needs to purge itself of this poison.
And if the Republican Party is going to try to harness the Tea Party’s passion on behalf of GOP candidates, responsible leaders need to make clear that racism will not be tolerated. Yet Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell declined to talk about the NAACP flap when asked about it Sunday, and Sen. John Cornyn volunteered that accusing the Tea Party of racism is “slanderous.”
It’s not slander if it’s the truth, senator.