Posted on 09 March 2011.
Dear President Obama: "We are not racists"
The headline in the March 3 US News & World Report reads: "Obama Says Race a Key Component in Tea Party Protests"
The article references statements made by President Barack Obama at a White House party least year, as reported by White House Correspondent Kenneth Walsh in his new book "Family of Freedom: Presidents and African Americans in the White House".
Walsh reports that at the party one of the guests suggested that when Tea Party activists say they want to "take back" their country, their real motivation is to stir up anger and anxiety at having a black president. Walsh goes on to state that President Obama didn’t dispute this notion. Obama reportedly agreed that there was a "subterranean agenda" in the Tea Party movement—a racially biased one—that was unfortunate. According to Walsh, President Obama continued by telling his guests that race was probably "a key component in the rising opposition" to his presidency from conservatives, especially the right-wing activists in that Tea Party movement. But President Obama sadly conceded that there was little he could do about it.
My wife and I are proud Teapartiers. We have met hundreds of other Teapartiers and dozens of Tea Party leaders. I’ve addressed thousands of Teapartiers as a speaker. And we’ve mingled with over a million from all 50 states at four different Tea Party gatherings on the Washington DC Mall. We have yet to encounter a single Teapartier who we believe is a racist.
We have four married children and ten grandchildren. Both my wife and I proudly share our Tea Party activities and experiences with them. With the reports about President Obama’s beliefs now viral on the Internet, I am deeply saddened and offended that my grandchildren will inevitably learn (perhaps from their classmates) that our President suspects our involvement is racially motivated, or that my wife and I are associating openly with racists.
The Tea Party movement has nothing to do with race. It’s about out-of-control government spending and debt.
The Tea Party supported many of the 32 African-Americans who ran in 2010 for Congress as Republicans; the largest number since Reconstruction. Herman Cain, an African-American business leader and radio talk show host, recently won a Tea Party straw poll for potential Republican candidates for president.
In November 2009 Republican African-American candidate Charles Lollar addressed several hundred thousand Teapartiers at the US Capital. He said: “Some are wondering why an African-American is speaking at a Tea Party gathering. Well I’m NOT an African-American – I am an American”. The roar of approval could be heard at the White House. Lollar, who subsequently lost to Steny Hoyer in Maryland’s Fifth District, was saying it’s time to drop the “hyphens” that categorize and divide us, and come together as Americans.
In August 2010, on the 47th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s “I have a Dream” speech, his niece Alveda King spoke to over half a million cheering Teapartiers at the Lincoln Memorial. Alveda reminded us that her uncle called for a focus not on the color of one’s skin, but on the honor and character of the individual. She said we were gathered not to divide, but to unite.
Perhaps the most popular of all Teapartiers today in Congress is Republican African-American Col Alan West. In response to charges of racism in the Tea Party, West has stated: "The Tea Party is a constitutional, conservative grassroots movement — and that’s it –the Tea Party stands for three things: they want to see effective, efficient constitutional government, they stand for national security, and they stand for free market, free enterprise solutions. That’s it."
Teapartiers have earlier been called racists by the likes of Rachel Maddow and Keith Olbermann and others in the media. Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid have cast more subtle but still offensive aspersions. I hope that President Obama has been mis-quoted in Walsh’s book, that he understands Teapartiers are not racially motivated, and that he will now use his bully-pulpit to put an end to these despicable and totally unfounded accusations.
Jack Tymann retired as Westinghouse’s President, International, where he led business development in 75 nations. He chaired the Clinton-Mubarak Middle-East Presidents’ Council, meeting regularly with Arab and Israeli leaders, and speaking at various World Economic Forums. Jack is currently Chairman of Sustainable Energy Partners, LLC in Naples. He is a frequent contributor to the Naples Daily News, a weekly guest on Naples WGUF Talk Radio, a frequent lecturer in SW Florida, and was the keynote speaker at the initial Naples Tea Party gathering in 2009.
Jack focuses on the need for limited government and a strong free private sector, and on national security issues, including an unsustainable national debt, the need for energy independence, and the threat of global Islamism. Email Jack email@example.com.