Rachel Maddow on Friday referred to attendees of the National Tea Party convention in Nashville, Tennessee, as white-hooded racists.
Continuing MSNBC's sad tradition, Maddow first attacked one of the convention's speakers: "The opening speech last night was given by failed presidential candidate, ex-congressman and professional anti-immigrant, Tom Tancredo who started the event off with a bang, a big loud racist bang."
From there, she went after the audience (video embedded below the fold with transcript):
RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: But first, a couple of holy crawfish stories in today`s political news. The much-maligned national tea party convention is underway today in Nashville. This is the one that is for profit. Tickets cost over $500.
Described as "something that smells scammy" by right-wing Web site, "Red State," the convention lost many of its sponsors and two members of Congress due to speak at the event.
Republicans Michele Bachmann and Marcia Blackburn pulled out. Sarah Palin is still due to address the confab tomorrow. She`s reportedly being paid a six-figure speaking fee to do so.
The opening speech last night was given by failed presidential candidate, ex-congressman and professional anti-immigrant, Tom Tancredo who started the event off with a bang, a big loud racist bang.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FMR. REP. TOM TANCREDO (R-CO): Mostly because I think we do not have a civics literacy test before people can vote in the country, people who could not even spell the word, "vote," or say it in English, put a committed, socialist ideologue in the White House. The name is Barack Hussein Obama.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Just for reference here, when Tom Tancredo talks about literacy tests, that`s what they used in the south to keep black people from voting before civil rights legislation and court rulings put a stop to that.
So the convention opened with a clarion call to bring back the literacy tests for voting. And as you could hear, the tea party convention crowd erupted in cheers at the suggestion, although, to be fair, it was sort of hard to tell exactly what the sounds coming from the crowd meant. They were sort of a little bit muffled by, you know, the white hoods.
Maddow was playing a little fast and loose with the facts here. After all, the federal government first used literacy tests as part of an immigration policy enacted in 1917.
It is of course correct that literacy tests were used in the south to prevent blacks from voting. However, as Tancredo's hot-button issue is indeed immigration, it's absurd to link his statement Thursday evening to racism.
After all, he referred to "people who could not even spell the word, 'vote,' or say it in English." That's an immigration issue.
If Maddow disagrees, maybe she should familiarize herself with a civics test that immigrants must take today to become American citizens. She needn't go far, for some of the questions are posted at MSNBC.com:
1. How many stripes are there on the U.S. flag?
2. Who is the chief justice of the Supreme Court today?
- George W. Bush
- Alberto Gonzales
- Thomas Jefferson
- John G. Roberts Jr.
3. In what year was the Constitution written?
4. Which of these is guaranteed by the First Amendment?
- Freedom of the press
- Right to bear arms
- Right to happiness
- Right to trial by jury
5. How many Supreme Court justices are there?
6. What are the first 10 amendments to the Constitution called?
- The Preamble
- The Bill of Rights
- First Ten Amendments
- Lewis "Scooter" Libby
7. When was the Declaration of Independence adopted?
- July 4, 1776
- July 4, 1787
- July 4, 1812
- July 4, 1876
8. Which of the following amendments to the Constitution does NOT address or guarantee voting rights?
- 19th Amendment
- 24th Amendment
- 15th Amendment
- 7th Amendment
9. What are the 13 original states?
- Connecticut, New Hampshire, New York, New Zealand, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Delaware, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Rhode Island, Maryland
- Connecticut, New Hampshire, New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Rhode Island, Maryland
- Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Kentucky, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Rhode Island, Maryland
- Connecticut, New Hampshire, New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Rhode Island, Maryland, Washington, D.C.
10. What do the stripes on the U.S. flag mean?
- The Cabinet
- One for each state in the Union
- They represent the 13 original states
- One for each article of the Constitution
11. What is the introduction to the Constitution called?
- The Preamble
- The Bill of Rights
- The Declaration of Independence
- The Articles of Confederation
12. How many changes or amendments are there to the Constitution?
13. Which of the following is NOT one of the constitutional requirements to be eligible to become president?
- Must be at least 35 years old by the time he/she will serve
- Must have lived in the United States for at least 14 years
- Must be a natural-born citizen of the United States
- Must have served as a governor
14. Who selects the Supreme Court justices?
- The Electoral College
- The people
- They are appointed by the president
- The Senate
15. How many representatives are there in Congress?
16. Who said, "Give me liberty or give me death"?
- George Washington
- Benjamin Franklin
- Thomas Jefferson
- Patrick Henry
17. Why did the Pilgrims come to America?
- In search of gold
- To meet the Indians
- For religious freedom
- To escape the Revolutionary War
18. Who has the power to declare war?
- The president
- Chief justice of the Supreme Court
- Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
19. What INS form is used to apply to become a naturalized citizen?
- Form N-200 "Petition for Naturalization"
- N-400 "Application for Naturalization"
- Social Security card
20. Which of these contains three rights or freedoms guaranteed by the Bill of Rights?
- Right to life, right to liberty, right to the pursuit of happiness
- Freedom of speech, freedom of press, freedom of religion
- Right to protest, right to protection under the law, freedom of religion
- Freedom of religion, right to elect representatives, human rights
So, Ms. Maddow, if it's not racist for the U.S. government to expect immigrants to answer these questions, is it racist to want voters to AT LEAST be able to spell the word "vote"?