A leading member of the Congressional Black Caucus is standing by incendiary language he used at a recent town hall when he charged that tea-party aligned members of Congress view African Americans as “second-class citizens” and would like to see them “hanging on a tree.”
Rep. Andre Carson’s (D-Ind.) office confirmed that the lawmaker made the remarks at an Aug. 22 CBC Job Tour event in Miami and said that the comments were “prompted in response to frustration voiced by many in Miami and in his home district in Indianapolis regarding Congress’ inability to bolster the economy.”
“The tea party is protecting its millionaire and oil company friends while gutting critical services that they know protect the livelihood of African-Americans, as well as Latinos and other disadvantaged minorities,” Carson spokesman Jason Tomcsi said. “We are talking about child nutrition, job creation, job training, housing assistance, and Head Start, and that is just the beginning. A child without basic nutrition, secure housing, and quality education has no real chance at a meaningful and productive life.”
“So, yes, the congressman used strong language because the Tea Party agenda jeopardizes our most vulnerable and leaves them without the ability to improve their economic standing,” Tomcsi added.
A video of Carson making the remarks began circulating online Tuesday night. The clip is a compilation of footage from several CBC town halls during the August recess and bears the logo of The Blaze, a Web site launched by conservative commentator Glenn Beck.
“I’m saying right now, under (CBC) Chairman Emanuel Cleaver’s leadership, we have seen change in Congress ... but the tea party is stopping that change,” Carson said at the event, according to the video. “And this is beyond symbolic change. This is the effort that we’re seeing, of Jim Crow.”
“Some of these folks in Congress right now would love to see us as second-class citizens,” Carson continued. “Some of them in Congress right now with this tea party movement would love to see you and me — I’m sorry, Tamron — hanging on a tree.”
“Tamron” appears to be a reference to MSNBC’s Tamron Hall, who was moderating the town hall meeting.
Carson’s remarks are the latest sign of tension between the CBC and the tea party movement. Two weeks ago, Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), a member of the CBC, said at a California town hall that the tea party “can go straight to hell.”
In March 2010, Carson alleged that tea party members protesting the health care reform legislation uttered racial epithets at him and Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) outside the Capitol.
Both lawmakers told reporters that the protesters used the N-word toward them.
Rep. Dennis Ross (R-Fla.) on Wednesday criticized Carson and Waters for their statements about the tea party movement.
“I’m a TEA Party caucus member and have spoken at two tea party rallies,” Ross said via Twitter. “I am also NOT a racist. Maxine & Andre - get a grip.”
Staff writers Aaron Blake and Paul Kane contributed to this report.