Mark Williams -- having seen his Tea Party Express booted from the National Tea Party Foundation for his nakedly racist screed about "coloreds" -- went on CNN Newsroom with Don Lemon yesterday and announced he was stepping down as the TPE spokesman. In the process, demonstrated exactly why the Tea Parties cannot distance themselves from their racists within quite as easily as they'd like:
LEMON: So I want to ask you, why did you resign from the Tea Party Express?
WILLIAMS: To take the spotlight off of me. It's a movement. It's not about me. It's not about my ego. It's not about my fat head. I did succeed in getting the NAACP to the table. And by the way this tea party federation which represents exactly 40 groups out of 5,000, I was never a member of. I have no idea who they are, but they threw me out.
Hmmmm. This is most peculiar, since the press release announcing the formation of the National Tea Party Foundation in April 2009 lists the Tea Party Express as one of its founding member organizations. And I can't find any indication the Tea Party Express ever indicated that this listing was in error.
In any event, Williams then went on to explain that he was still very much a Tea Party activist:
LEMON: OK. So listen, if you say that you wanted to take the spotlight off of you, I have to ask you then why did you accept this interview if you don't want to be in the spotlight?
WILLIAMS: I weaselled on you last time. The reason why I canceled last time was because the day before David Webb went on TV and did all this nonsense about kicking me out of a group I never belonged to, I had sat down with the Urban League, the NAACP, Reverend Al and a bunch of other people and we reached an agreement to put all the rancor behind us and find common ground.
This guy Webb, looking for headlines, cashing in, whatever it was, decided he would chime in. That makes me the issue when the issue should really be America and what we're working to save.
WILLIAMS: I am still a Tea Partier. I just don't speak officially for the Tea Party Express.
And then he demonstrated exactly the kind of racist ignorance that is embedded deeply in the movement he formerly represented:
LEMON: OK, listen, I want to go back and read this first again, because it's the first time I have talk to you. Go back and read the first part of your letter to Lincoln that you posted on your blog and then later removed. It says, "We colored people don't cotton -- we colored people have taken a vote and decide we don't cotton to that whole emancipation thing. Freedom means having to work for real, think for ourselves and take consequences along with the rewards. That is just far too much to ask of us colored people and we demand that it's stop."
Are you still defending this as satire, Mark?
WILLIAMS: I defend the idea behind it. I certainly am upset with my sloppy execution of it. But when a group that calls itself colored people says it's against freedom and emancipation and it's against self-determination, the first thing that pops into my mind is those colored people must be speaking for some bizarre group of people that I'm not familiar with. And in people's mind, when people say they use the words colored and black interchangeably, that's in their heads.
LEMON: I think you are a smart guy.
LEMON: And I think you know the NAACP is an historic organization which got its name 100 years ago before there was anything about colored, black, African-American. And there is some debate even among African-Americans about changing the name. But you are a smart enough guy to know that you can't use that word just like you can't call people the "N" word. You used to be able to do that. We still say the negro league when we talk about old timers in baseball, but you don't walk around calling people Negros. So why do you use that defense? It seems like your being disingenuous about it.
WILLIAMS: No. I used the name of the group and I used what they call themselves. And I used the intent behind their -- behind their resolution. And when we sat down and we agreed to put all that behind us, and I agreed on national television, by the way, on another network, that I was over the top with it, we put it behind us. And the next day this bottom feeder Webb just went and destroyed all of that and turned it into a big debate over me.
As you can see, the interview continues on in this tone through several more questions. He defends Andrew Breitbart and repeats the lie that Shirley Sherrod's audience applauded when she discussed her impulse to "act racistly".
Williams just doesn't get it. He's still utterly clueless about what his screed revealed about so much of the Tea Partiers' claims to "colorblindness" -- that it's really just lip service, window dressing for a profound bigotry.
That, ultimately, is why he remains an exemplar of the Tea Partiers' race problem -- and will for a good long time to come.