September 01, 2011
Indiana Congressman Andre Carson accused the Tea Party of being racist in a recent town hall meeting in Miami, Florida and those comments have ignited a national debate.
Rep. Carson was speaking at a town hall meeting conducted by the Congressional Black Caucus when he said that some other members of Congress want to go back 50 or 60 years with regard to race relations. The Carson remarks were made 10 days ago but just popped up on YouTube. He’s off camera for most of them. He says in the video, “This is the effort we’re seeing of Jim Crow. Some of these folks in Congress right now would love to see us as second class citizens and some of them in Congress right now with the Tea Party movement would love to see you and me hanging on a tree.”
It’s not the first time Carson has clashed with the Tea Party. He accused Tea Party members of using the N-word last year when he and other members of the Black Caucus passed on the way into the Capitol. The reference to lynching’s, however, has prompted calls for an apology. State Representative Greg Porter of Indianapolis is a member of the Indiana Black Legislative Caucus. He was asked if Carson went too far. “Hanging on a tree or out on a limb?” he responded. “That’s where I would come from, cause we’re out on a limb right now.”
Tea Party members say they’re not racist but, Greg Fettig, calls the Democratic Party a modern day plantation. “They enslave a whole segment of the population,” said Fettig. “They put ‘em on the government trough, they promote behaviors that are not conducive to a sustained family, and you see it in any community.”
Carson stands behind his remarks. He was in Los Angeles where he took part in another Congressional Black Caucus town hall meeting last night.
Rep. Carson reacted to calls for his resignation in a phone interview from Los Angeles yesterday. He said, “I can’t apologize for speaking the truth, nor will I ever apologize for speaking the truth… I have a duty to speak boldly.”
At the meeting, Carson was asked if he regretted what he had said. Carson said: “I don’t regret the truth of what I’ve spoken.”
Perhaps, he conceded, other words might have been better.
Carson said, “I was very passionate in my language, and perhaps if I had to do it over, that analogy wouldn’t have been used because I would have known it would have been a distraction.”
And that, he insisted, is all this criticism is about: a distraction from the real issue, which he sees as a Congress being pushed by some into passing legislation that hurts his constituents of all racial backgrounds.
Carson added that he does not think the tea party is racist, but he thinks there are racist elements among some of its extreme members.
State Rep. Vanessa Summers, an Indianapolis Democrat who is chairwoman of the Indiana Black Legislative Caucus, said Carson has no need to apologize for expressing what so many of her constituents believe. She cited legislation, in Indiana and nationally, that has been pushed by politicians aligned with the tea party movement to cut spending on programs important to the minority community, including education.
But blacks in the tea party movement, while small in numbers, said they found Carson’s words over the line. And the sole Republican in the Congressional Black Caucus, Florida Republican Congressman Allen West, has threatened to quit the Congressional Black Caucus over Carson’s remarks. Carson said, “No one in the organization will miss him.”
The Congressional Black Caucus, which celebrated its 40th anniversary this year, has 43 members. In addition to West, there have been only two GOP members in the group’s history.
Carson is one of five members of the group’s executive board, serving since January as whip, with the job of counting votes and building support for Democratic positions.