Given that the tea party—a diffuse network of local groups with no central leadership—focuses not on race but on limited government, the NAACP's obsession with the movement might seem odd. And given the real challenges facing black Americans today, the fact that the nation's largest civil rights group is devoting time and resources to monitoring Sarah Palin rallies for Confederate flags is also rather sad.And why is the NAACP so focused on the tea party rather than on how liberal policies have made things worth for the people that the organization is supposed to be caring about? Riley is exactly right in his diagnosis of this situation.
The nation's unemployment rate is 9.6%, but it is 16.1% for blacks and an unconscionable 41% for black teens. Politicians continue to promote minimum-wage hikes that harm the job prospects of younger and less-skilled individuals, a disproportionate number of whom are black. Wal-Mart's attempts to open a store that would bring jobs and low-price goods to a depressed neighborhood in Brooklyn, N.Y., have been thwarted repeatedly by labor unions. And the NAACP is issuing studies on the tea party movement?
Black children are funneled into the nation's worst public schools, where they underperform and often don't graduate. Black boys in eighth grade read at about the same level as white girls in fourth grade. The achievement gap persists through high school, where the average black student is graduating with an eighth-grade education—if the student graduates at all.
The situation has remained essentially unchanged for three decades. President Obama and Education Secretary Arne Duncan have noted that just 2,000 of the nation's 20,000 high schools produce half of all dropouts, and nearly 50% of black kids attend one of these "dropout factories." But that hasn't stopped the Obama administration from phasing out a Washington, D.C., voucher program for low-income students that improved graduation rates. Still, the NAACP is worried about the tea party?
Prisons are teeming with black men, a problem not unrelated to the dearth of decent educational choices for black families. In the current issue of National Affairs, David Kirp writes that "among 16- to 24-year-old black men not enrolled in school, fewer than half have jobs; about a third are in prison or jail, or on probation or parole." Blacks are 13% of the population but comprise 38% of prison or jail inmates in the U.S., and black-on-black violent crime is the norm. Blacks commit 52% of all murders and make up 49% of all murder victims—90% of them are killed by other blacks. Is this problem perhaps a little more pressing than supposed racial overtones in Michele Bachmann speeches?
Of course, the breakdown of the black family, 40 years in the making, goes a long way toward explaining all of the above. More than 70% of black children are born to single women. Compared with those born to married couples, out-of-wedlock children are more likely to live in poverty, perform poorly in school, commit crimes and abuse drugs. So long as only 35% of black children are living with two parents, it will be difficult to change the culture and values that predominate in the ghetto and produce these tragic outcomes.
It's hard to understand how an organization that says it's devoted to "end[ing] racial disparities" finds the time to rail against tea-party populism until you grasp that the NAACP is, first and foremost, a Democratic Party organ. The NAACP is pretending that the tea party threatens the interests of blacks because the tea party in fact threatens the interests of the Democratic left. The civil rights leadership wants to discredit the movement for political reasons. And unfortunately, this partisan agenda takes priority over the many issues of consequence that confront blacks today.