By smearing the Tea Party, what exactly is the NAACP advancing?

Gen LaGreca Author, "Noble Vision"
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After dredging up a dozen objectionable posters from the millions of people attending Tea Party rallies across the country, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People—on the basis of these few placards—is asking its members to sign a pledge to “repudiate racism within the Tea Party.”

Instead of addressing the ideas raised by the Tea Party, the NAACP has launched a gratuitous smear campaign. At the moment of the most crucial debate of our lifetime, a fervent debate over the role of government in human affairs, the NAACP has choked off intellectual discussion and placed itself in the anteroom of human thought, forfeiting ideas for smears.

What are the central ideas driving the Tea Party movement, ideas the NAACP neglects to mention to its members? Taken from the “Mission Statement and Core Values” of the prominent national group Tea Party Patriots, here’s an indication of what the movement stands for:

— The “Declaration of Independence” and our other “founding documents,” which means the unalienable rights of the individual to life, liberty, property, and the pursuit of happiness.

— A “constitutionally limited government,” which means a government that serves as the protector of the individual rights of everyone, and not as the provider of the needs and wants of some groups at the expense of others.

— “Free markets” and “freedom of the individual to spend the money that is the fruit of their labor,” which means the right to private property and freedom in the economic affairs of life.

— “Fiscal responsibility by government.”

These issues encompass the most pressing moral and political questions of our day. Does a person have control over his own person and property, or does the government hold a superior claim to someone’s life and possessions? What is the proper structure of government—freedom or controls, capitalism or socialism, private property or government redistribution? This is the debate that the Tea Party has launched, and the fate of all of our lives and those of future generations rests on the answer.

Instead of hurling baseless smears and stirring racial animus, the NAACP needs to carefully examine the ideas driving the tea party and hold its own opposition up to scrutiny.

— The Tea Party stands for an individual’s right to be the master of his own person and property. Does the NAACP stand for an individual’s not being his own master, but of some other entity having control over a person’s life and possessions? How is that an advancement of colored people or anyone else?

— The Tea Party stands for limited government. Is the NAACP for unlimited government? How would that be an advancement of colored people or anyone else?

— The Tea Party upholds a person’s right to keep the fruits of his labor. Does the NAACP instead want its members to have the fruits of their labor seized from them? How would that constitute an advancement of colored people or anyone else?

— The Tea Party calls for fiscal responsibility of government. Is the NAACP for fiscal irresponsibility? Wouldn’t that lead to higher taxes and a lower standard of living? How would that foster the advancement of colored people or anyone else?

If the NAACP doesn’t stand for the advancement of the individual—for the pursuit and enjoyment of one’s life, with the full exercise of one’s liberty and the protection of one’s property—then it must stand for the only other alternative, i.e., the advancement of government as the provider, regulator, intruder, and controller of the individual’s life. If the NAACP doesn’t stand with the Tea Party in upholding individual rights—the bedrock of our country and of any civilized, free society—then it does not stand for the advancement of its members or anyone else, but for the regression of all of us to a state of servitude.

Gen LaGreca is the author of Noble Vision, a ForeWord Magazine Book-of-the-Year award-winning novel about the struggle for liberty in health care today.