The NAACP Boos Romney: A Double Standard and a Breach of Civility

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Evan Vucci / AP

Participants listen to Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney deliver a speech during the NAACP annual convention on Wednesday, July 11, 2012 in Houston, Texas.

It’s politically fashionable to question the relevance of the 103-year-old National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. But the NAACP is still one of America’s most revered institutions, and deservedly so – which is why the country took notice last summer when the organization passed a resolution calling for the restoration of civil political discourse amid the boorish bile that passes for public debate in the U.S. today. It’s also why the country has every right to be roundly disappointed in the NAACP for hypocritically flouting its own pledge on Wednesday, when it invited Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney to address its convention in Houston – and then very uncivilly booed him.

The extended jeers, which Romney later conceded he anticipated – and which some have accused him of baiting for the benefit of his conservative base – were a response to his promise to repeal President Obama’s signature reform legislation, the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare. The law’s aim of accessible, near universal health care coverage matters quite a bit to an African-American community whose unemployment level has been almost twice the national rate during the Great Recession; and Romney probably could have found a more diplomatic way to broach the subject. Nevertheless, Obamacare is one of many issues starkly dividing the U.S. in this election year, and last year’s NAACP resolution was meant precisely to encourage respectful hearings from both sides – a courtesy from which the NAACP’s conventioneers apparently believed they were exempt.

They did listen politely to Romney for the most part, even offering applause when he insisted, perhaps not all that convincingly, that he’ll help more African-Americans join the middle class. But unfortunately cable news doesn’t notice politeness; it’s the rudeness that gets you on MSNBC and Fox, and the real problem with what happened in Houston is that it gives Americans another excuse to resign themselves to gratuitous partisan barking. They’ll reason that if the NAACP can’t resist the vitriol even after renouncing it just a year ago, then it’s futile to expect the rest of us to stop following Gretchen Carlson and Bill Maher down Incivility Avenue.

Perhaps the most significant thing the NAACP did on Wednesday was re-open the door to charges of liberal double standard – just as Obama supporters were trying to enjoy the high ground after the Supreme Court’s decision last month to uphold Obamacare. The country was rightly mortified in 2010 when right-wing Republican Congressman Joe Wilson of South Carolina made his irate “You lie!” outburst during Obama’s State of the Union address. The NAACP’s boos may not have been as mean-spirited as Wilson’s heckle (we’ll pause here to let the left-wingers shout “False equivalency!”) but the bottom line is that if a convention of white conservatives had invited Obama to address them this week and then hooted at him, it would have led Rachel Madow’s show.

The boos in Houston risked giving off the kind of air of intolerance for which Democrats like to scold Republicans. It’s as if the NAACP had invited Romney to lay out his platform but rather absurdly told him: Criticizing Obama or his policies is off limits. It simply doesn’t work that way, and that’s what we thought the NAACP’s 2011 resolution had acknowledged – that we’ve got to get back to absorbing dissenting viewpoints instead of demonizing them. After Romney’s Houston speech, one NAACP member told CNN, ”I wasn’t booing him as a person, I was booing his agenda.” Tea Partyers say the same thing after disrupting political addresses they don’t like, but that doesn’t make it acceptable – something liberal groups like Code Pink, which specializes in interrupting speeches like one given by conservative Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Washington this year, need to understand as well.

Earlier this year, the NAACP chapter in Martin County, Fla., cancelled an invitation to black GOP Congressman Allen West to be its fundraiser keynote speaker. The conservative West represents the district that includes Martin County; but after he publicly remarked, astonishingly and repeatedly, that “there’s about 78 to 81 members of the Democratic Party that are members of the Communist Party,” the NAACP chapter kiboshed his speech. Some conservatives cried censorship, but the chapter’s decision was in fact in keeping with the NAACP’s call to discourage the kind of polarizing rhetoric that makes the American body politic, the heir of Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King, sound like a dysfunctional banana republic.

Romney certainly isn’t the guy the African-American community is going to vote for in November, and he acknowledged that in Houston. But he said he accepted the NAACP’s invitation because he hopes to “represent all Americans,” and even if you consider that a disingenuous sentiment on his part, it too is in keeping with a spirit of civil discourse. The NAACP didn’t help its relevance problem this week by breaching that spirit. Or maybe it did, sadly, given all the attention the booing got. If that’s the case, then it’s as much the nation’s problem as it is the NAACP’s.

178 comments
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B
B

I wonder if the photographer gave the guy the NAACP hat and told him to wear it for the photo. It looks out of place. The guy looks fairly intelligent and should know that hats are to be removed when indoors.  Also, it's not cocked to the side like most thugs wear their hats.

icelander711
icelander711

Fight, fight,fight,blah blah blah, its no wonder our freedom is on the verge of being taken away, all anybody ever does is sit around and gripe about what some other guy just said to him on the comment board. Go call your congressman, go to a city council meeting, something besides arguing with some dude you never even met. Then maybe you'll have a right to complain.

Rider
Rider

No such thing as a hyphenated American.

Jason Rahall
Jason Rahall

Candidate Scissor Hands has shown a lack of conscience and empathy with his repeated promise to repeal the Affordable Care Act. His arrogant, belligerent threats of austerity, cuts to earned benefits like Soc Security, etc., deserve to be booed. We must question the relevance of Mr. Padgett's condescending article scolding the NAACP audience.

Mark Fields
Mark Fields

Its the corporation that want free stuff.  Begging for tax breaks. corporation are on there knees begging like a prostitute and taking are money.  Im tired of the beggers that are paying 50 cent labor in china thinking they can control are government.     ROmney is a tax evader and should be in jail .  He is busted red handed lying to the SEC. 

Yobi Mekonnen
Yobi Mekonnen

I booooo the Author of this article: Tim Padgett

How the heck were you suppose to let the speaker know if you like what they are saying to you or not?   If you like you clap/cheer. If you don't you boo him.    Also didn't he get stand ovation when he finish his sentence. 

Mr. Tim Padgett,   I think you are the racist!

Yobi Mekonnen
Yobi Mekonnen

what about "kill Obama" what are we here, 5 years old kids?

maria
maria

A breach of civility, yes sir, you are right. I suppose that you  also raised you voice to the untimate case of incivility and chastised Joe (You lie!) Wilson when he disrespected President Obama while he was addressing Congress. Please share with us your words of censure. Otherwise you are guity of the double standard you so valiantly denounce.

risknotreward
risknotreward

Perhaps Romney was uncivil to bash a law that he knows his audience favors.  Not very smart of him by the way.  Incivility is in the eye of the beholder. 

Arcangelo Caldarulo
Arcangelo Caldarulo

No such thing as civility in politics, this is 2012 or did you forget !

Heterotic
Heterotic

Blacks being blacks, not enough handouts so they get upset.

maria
maria

Ever been to Appalachia? The color of the very poor would surprise you. I think that everyone deserves justice.

tazzanderson
tazzanderson

It's funny how their own organization can call them colored people but if anyone else does, they are labeled as racists. Just the stark reality of how shoddy this organization is and how they themselves cause more race issues in America than anyone!

53underscore3
53underscore3

That was the title it gave itself 105 years ago, numbskull...

Kadzimiel
Kadzimiel

Apparently the black community needs patronizing lectures by Tim Padgett on civility.  Frankly, the sooner Time dispenses with Mr Padgett's race-baiting services, the better for all of us.  If nothing else, his removal could only enhance the quality of journalism in this publication.

thommythomas2001
thommythomas2001

What else are people supposed to do? If they hear that what's dear to them will be repealed are they supposed to applaud? No, Mitt should not have said this, to this audience. Perhaps he was trying to attract the GOP base at  NAACP expense!

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®©
ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®©

CIVILITY, BEACHES!!!

Haha, you are so pathetic, Tim Padgett.

"Why can't the darkies be more polite to people who would like to strip them of their right to vote, and used to run around burning crosses and hanging them?"

TIME's Tim Padgett is outraged.

~

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®©
ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®©

"The NAACP didn’t help its relevance problem this week by breaching that spirit."

That's rich.  Have you contemplated TIME's relevance problem?

You are a team full of hacks trying to maintain that vital "still in the dentist's office" presence.

~

Leftcoastrocky
Leftcoastrocky

Romney wanted the boos.  With the language he used and the way he delivered it, he invited and in fact encouraged the boos.

Baiwing
Baiwing

 If so, then the NAACP attendees that booed played into his hands. They knew beforehand that Romney is going to do all he can to repeal the Affordable Care Act if he's elected. Their boos reflect badly on all of us. Booing at a political candidate who was brave enough to step into a house full of Obama supporters is low behavior.

53underscore3
53underscore3

I agree with you leftcoast.

Ignore paulejb.  He's just cranking Southern Strategy nostrums and hiding behind the ignorant in the black community to project his own racial arson.

paulejb
paulejb

"Three More Dems to Skip Convention"

http://www.weeklystandard.com/... 

The audience thins, but to hear libs tell it, everything is hunky dory in ObamaLand.

StanleyCupp
StanleyCupp

 Update: The above story has been removed. A spokesman

for the Kentucky Democratic party says both Yarmuth and Beshear will be

attending the convention but that Chandler does not plan on attending.

http://www.weeklystandard.com/...

Leftcoastrocky
Leftcoastrocky

Let's see.  Are there any former republican candidates for president who won't be attending their own convention?  At least Huntsman.

paulejb
paulejb

Leftcoastrocky,

Doubt he was invited. Besides he's probably busy shilling for the ChiComs.

paulejb
paulejb

Sue_N,

"How is having to purchase (like, with our money) health insurance an "entitlement"?"

----------------------------------------------

What do you think Medicaid is? That entitlement program is the backbone of ObamaCare and it's stealth transformation of health care into a single-payer government system.

Leftcoastrocky
Leftcoastrocky

Medicaid for everyone.  Sounds good to me.

paulejb
paulejb

Leftcoastrocky,

And a FREE UNICORN! YEAH!

53underscore3
53underscore3

No, we should just raise your taxes.

I think UHC is the way to go, anyway.

paulejb
paulejb

53_3,

"Straight talk" like your racist theories about blacks not able to think and how they always want "free stuff"?

------------------------------------------------------

You are confusing me with Charlotte Stoker-Manning.

“I believe his vested interests are in white Americans,” Charlette Stoker Manning, the chairwoman of Women in NAACP, told the website BuzzFeed following the Republican candidate’s Wednesday speech in Houston.

“You cannot possibly talk about jobs for black people at the level he’s coming from. He’s talking about entrepreneurship, savings accounts — black people can barely find a way to get back and forth from work,” 

Manning said.

53underscore3
53underscore3

No, I'm not confusing anything.  It's clear that you are hiding behind her to project your own racial arson.

paulejb
paulejb

53_3.

Have no real expectations. Just wondering how long it will take for Barack Obama's narcissism to turn off his biggest supporters.

Lepid
Lepid

The premise here is flawed. Booing Romney is not close to the same thing as the incidents with Obama. Why? Obama is the President. Romney is not.

You're supposed to respect the office even if you disagree with the person.

Last I checked there was no such patriotic respect extended to political candidates.

Sure, they're both running for the same job, but linking the two incidents is just silly false equivalency.

If they had booed George W. Bush, I would be on board. They booed a Presidential candidate, not the President or a former President.

LiberalLies2012
LiberalLies2012

Apparently you were born in 2009.  The left vilified and crucified George W Bush and you know it.  

The left is and always has been about incivility.  So much so they even kill their own if the situation warrants it.  Ask Jack Kennedy.  Oh that's right you can't, they killed him.