CNN this weekend invited a "diversity consultant" on its "Saturday Morning" program that actually likened black Tea Party members to Jews that worked as guards in Nazi concentration camps.
For his part, host T.J. Holmes did a fairly good job of playing devil's advocate to his two race-baiting guests, Dr. Marc Lamont Hill of Columbia University and Luke Visconti, owner of Diversity Inc.
Despite Holmes's efforts to impart some balance to the discussion -- imagine that! -- the schedulers might have done a better job finding an opposing view to the disgustingly offensive anti-Tea Party rhetoric on display.
Unfortunately, after reading some of what Tea Party Express's Mark Williams wrote at his blog Wednesday, a sickening hatefest against the movement commenced (video follows with transcript and commentary, h/t NBer math4life):
T.J. HOLMES, HOST: Marc, let me start with you. On this letter, should we dismiss this as one guy going off the deep end and making a mistake in something he wrote, or should we look at this a little deeper and think about what he might think is also what a lot of people might be thinking?
PROF. MARC LAMONT HILL, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY: Well, we should look at it as one isolated incident. The problem is we have a series of incidents that were marked as isolated. Now we begin to see a pattern, both within and outside of the tea party. We see a large range of people who have a deep animus toward the president and also toward African- American people.
There are all these narratives about black laziness, about black angst, about black anger, about black being all undeserving and all of these conversations are emerging at a moment when we need more racial togetherness and instead are prompting more racial division. That's a dangerous moment to be in.
HOLMES Well, Luke, let me have your reaction too to the letter you saw from Mark Williams.
LUKE VISCONTI, DIVERSITY CONSULTANT: I think it is unpatriotic. If you look up on the web, do a web search for tea party bumper stickers. You'll see a whole list of things that are just really objectionable. And I think we have to look at this in context.
By 2043, white people will be less than 50 percent of our population. If we can't get this together now, and this is a critical juncture, we're really shortchanging the future of our country. I think tea party people are unpatriotic, short sighted and selfish. It is a pattern here.
HOLMES: It sounds like you're labeling? Now is it fair to do, Luke? Is it fair to label? It sounds like you're just talking about the tea party as a whole, almost. The tea party is a movement. So many different factions are a part of it. But you would go so far as labeling the entire movement as what you're saying, a bit racist?
VISCONTI: Hey, look. I mean you got to look at it. If it's furry and it has a tail and pointy ears and it meows, it's probably a cat. You know? So you look at this, I wouldn't want to stand next to any of those signs. I wouldn't want to be associated with any of that language. If you are associated with it, it says something about you.
HOLMES: But Mark, we see these and we call these incidents, Mark. Of course, not everyone in the tea party movement, I don't think anyone in the NAACP or otherwise has suggested these are all bad people, but it seems like there may be some elements that, you know, that draw the attention of the camera. Has the tea party movement in some ways even gotten a bad rap because some of those extremist elements, those racist elements as the NAACP would say, end up drowning out some of the calmer voices?
HILL: Well, that's what they would say. They would say they are the victims of the liberal media bias that takes the three or four crazies in the tea party movement and dangles them in front of the camera. But we know that that's simply not true. I've been to many tea party rallies where I fear language like "lynch the president," "beat up the president," "shoot the president."
Well, you hear the narratives and the conversations that are going at those tea party rallies, it's not one or two people. There is a tone and tenor there. I do not believe that most people in the tea party are racist. I don't believe that at all.
But when you have a large faction and you have a racist wing of your movement, you need to say something about it. You need to reject and outcast them. If you do not do that, you run the risk and you deserve to be labeled as an organization that doesn't mind having racists in it. That makes the organization racist.
HOLMES: Well, guys, I talked to Mark Scoda, and he's the head of the tea party in Memphis. I've been around this guy. Spent some time with him. And I don't think anyone after meeting him would come to the conclusion that this guy was a racist in any way, shape or form.
So how are they supposed to -- which some give them credit for, the tea party movement being now a player in politics in this country that is going to be around. Whose responsibility is it now to step up? How do you separate, Luke, some of those racist elements as the NAACP would say? How do you separate them from the good folks like Mark Scoda?
VISCONTI: Well, look, the iron pilings know which way to point when the magnet makes itself, you know, apparent. I think you are looking at a group of people who are cultivating power and cultivating an audience with a direct message. And the message isn't very savory as far as I'm concerned. These are people leveraging racism.
And if you look at the crowds, you look on Youtube, the people against government health care, most of them are on social security and Medicare, if you look at the crowds. I guess they're not in favor of health care for certain people. I think this is what you have to focus on. They didn't get to power with any message of any kind other than being anti-Obama and being anti-black Obama.
Let's be honest about this. I mean you can't go to any of these rallies and not see the negative signs. What's that tell you about the organization?
HOLMES: Aren't there though -- I know there are because we talk to them. There are African-American members of the tea party.
VISCONTI: Well, sure.
HILL: There are African-American members of the tea party.
VISCONTI: There were Jewish concentration guard camps. Weren't there? I mean, there were capos.
HOLMES: I don't want to make that connection there, Luke. We don't want to go that far.
VISCONTI: Why not?
Why not? Because regardless of your position and the idea that companies employ you as a diversity consultant, such caustic language doesn't improve race relations in this country.
It in fact exacerbates the problem and further divides the nation.
How come folks that condemn inflammatory rhetoric use equally inflammatory rhetoric to castigate those their accusing?
Isn't that fighting fire with fire and therefore the height of hypocrisy?
And was it the intent of CNN producers to do such a lengthy segment -- the pair were on for over 20 minutes including two commercial breaks -- without any balance whatsoever?
This seems especially important as earlier in the program, Holmes pitted Mark Skoda of the Memphis Tea Party against Hilary Shelton of the NAACP which made for a much more interesting discussion.
Sadly, what followed with Hill and Visconti was disturbingly offensive to say the least.
*****Update: Jules Crittenden marvelously notes, "Hey, that sounds like the ugly Nazi comparison everyone gets upset about when the Tea Partiers do it."