NPR Sees Tea Party Racism in 'Almost Neuralgic' Opposition to Spending

On Monday night's All Things Considered On National Public Radio, anchor Robert Siegel followed up a story on the new Martin Luther King Jr. memorial in Washington D.C. with an interview with a "longtime civil rights activist," recent NAACP chairman Julian Bond. Siegel omitted any reference to any of Bond's splenetic rages against conservatives (see below), but instead invited him to denounce the Tea Party as racist for its opposition to liberal uplift:

SIEGEL: Some people read into the Tea Party's almost neuralgic reaction to government spending, a sense that white people figure black people benefit disproportionately from federal programs. Do you suspect a racial subtext to that whole argument?

BOND: Absolutely. And I'm not saying that all of the Tea Party members are racist. Not at all. I don't think anybody says that. But I think there's an element of racial animus there and the feeling that some white people have that these black people are now getting something that I'm not getting and I should be getting it, too.

"Neuralgic" is defined by one dictionary as " intense pain along the course of a nerve, especially in the head or face." In that case, conservatives should have an "almost neuralgic reaction" to having to pay for the liberal sneers of Robert Siegel and his "objective" colleagues at NPR.

Despite the calm tones and kid gloves on NPR, Bond embraces the Tea Party-as-terrorist hardline on the left. From January 20, 2010, just days before he stepped down from the NAACP he proclaimed:

We saw hate on display this summer in town halls and tea parties, subsidized by corporations and their well-funded fear machines across the country. Our politics have been poisoned by armed and paranoid self-described patriots, drawn from the Taliban wing of American politics, a true fright wing, once called Birchers, now birthers, spreading lies and spreading myths.

(See more: Julian Bond's Viciousness Never Upbraided by Liberal Media.)

Siegel went on to ask Bond if America needs more "explicitly black" leadership, meaning "explicitly racial." Siegel suggested being "explicitly black" would hurt Obama politically, with you know, the country being so white and backward:

SIEGEL: Today, with a black president in office, is there still a need for explicitly black leadership? And if so, what kinds of leaders are needed?

BOND: Well, I think the kinds of leaders that we have, as well as others, of course there's a need for them, just as Hispanics, women and other groups that find themselves marginalized in today's society need effective spokespersons. And black America is fortunate enough to have had and to have today an effective group of such people...

SIEGEL: The Congressional Black Caucus, which has been conducting a jobs tour, highlighting black unemployment, the need for more jobs for all Americans, has been pretty rough on President Obama for his more recent focus on balancing the budget. What do you make of that conflict?

BOND: Well, it's this great tension between President Obama's race and the expectation by many black people that he is our president and the expectation by others, who are both black and not black, that he's the president of everyone. And the difficulty he's had balancing that in the public perception. Is he the black president? Is he the president of black people? Is he president of everybody? I think he wants badly to be the president of everyone, so I think it's a terrible tension for him.

SIEGEL: Do you think he is actually less vocal in support of an explicitly black political agenda because he is black than, say, had Hillary Clinton been elected president instead might have been?

BOND: I do think that's true. I think he's taken care to not be perceived as the president of black people. I think he thinks it would be harmful to his presidency. It would hurt him in other ways. He would be thought of as a single issue president and he badly does not want that to happen.

SIEGEL: Do you think he's right about that?

BOND: I think he probably is right about that. I want to hear him say more about this black/white gap, this divide, this economic divide. I want to see him act more, but I understand why he doesn't. I just want him to do it.

Speaking of black/white divides, Siegel helpfully introduced Bond with a set of data arguing that blacks have been much harder hit by recession:

The opening of the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial comes at a moment when it's hard to appraise progress toward Dr. King's dream. On the one hand, a black man is president of the United States, something that seemed impossible in the 1950s or '60s.

On the other hand, black unemployment today is about twice white unemployment and the financial crisis and recession have devastated the household net worth of minority groups. White net worth has dropped by 16 percent over the past four years, according to the Pew Research Group. For blacks, the decline is over 50 percent. White households today are 20 times wealthier than black households.

Siegel was so busy painting Julian Bond's picture for him that he excluded what the liberals at Pew acknowledged in the fine print of its study about measuring recent demographic trends: "This report measures the changing wealth gaps between whites, Hispanics, and blacks using ratios. An alternative approach would have been to measure the changes in absolute levels rather than ratios. By that yardstick, the median wealth gaps between these groups would have decreased from 2005 to 2009." (Italics theirs.)

NPR's website headlined this conversation: "How Close Are We to Realizing King's 'Dream'?" As usual, liberal media outlets only go to "civil rights" leaders on the left for the answer. There is often no debate -- and especially no black conservatives -- allowed on these "open-minded" airwaves.

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis