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Tea Party Leader Brags about Co-Opting Birmingham’s Kelly Ingram Park

When I read that the Tea Party Express was coming to Kelly Ingram Park on Monday, I was horrified.  This is an overwhelmingly white movement whose express (excuse the pun) purpose is to de-legitimize the country's first African-American president, and they were going to gather on the sacred space that served as a staging ground for the boycotts and protests of the civil rights movement.  After a bit of thought, I figured it was a purposeful choice, one intended to co-opt the spirit of a struggle for equality that actually cost people their livelihoods — and their lives.

Turns out I was right.  Tea party leader Mark Williams wrote about the location on his blog on Monday, noting

Could there be a better venue to celebrate our freedoms and rise to the defense of civil rights for all?  I hope that the symbolism is not lost on people but what happened there today would have to make Dr. King and the victims of  Bull Connor proud.

Williams includes, without a hint of irony, a picture of black protesters being sprayed with fire hoses in 1963 juxtaposed with a picture of Monday's crowd — overwhelmingly white, enjoying the protection of the Birmingham police department, disrupted only by a tiny group of counter-protesters, and limited only by the ending time on their legal permit.

If Mr. Williams and his cohorts are so concerned about civil rights for all, why weren't they protesting the warrantless wiretaps of the Bush administration?  Why didn't they decry the “free speech zones”  for protesters and the characterization of dissent against Bush administration policies as treason?  Why aren't they taking to the streets now to support marriage equality?

Oh, wait.  This is a man who titled a 2007 blog post about Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama “Hermaphrodite and the Halfrican” and who referred to New Orleans residents who died in Katrina as “genetic dead-ends”.  If he's concerned about civil rights for all, I'm Glenn Beck.

h/t to Joe at Bessemer Opinions, whose post on the subject is here.

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