I don't have a top-10 list of reasons why Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney shouldn't have addressed the NAACP's annual convention yesterday, but I do have a top-four list.
1. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People is no longer a civil rights organization. It was at one time, in the glory days when men like Walter White and Roy Wilkins led the organization. Those were the days when lawyers like Thurgood Marshall racked up court victory after court victory to whittle away at, and eventually destroy, the edifice of de jure segregation in the United States.
The era of White and Wilkins has passed. In the 1990s, Julian Bond became the NAACP's board chairman and, more than any single individual, started the organization's slow descent from esteemed civil rights group to what it is today: at best, an African-American subcommittee of the Democratic National Committee; at worst, a hatchet man for the Democratic Party.
2. The NAACP is no longer nonpartisan. One of the reasons that presidents past, Republican and Democrat, spoke at the NAACP's annual convention is that the organization was truly nonpartisan, not endorsing candidates from either party for president or any other elected office.
Under Bond's stewardship, the NAACP adopted what I call a "wink, wink, nudge, nudge" brand of nonpartisanship. The organization claimed to be nonpartisan, but under Bond and since, NAACP nonpartisanship has been and is to genuine nonpartisanship what professional wrestling is to actual wrestling, with one difference.
At least pro wrestling promoters these days admit they engage in fakery.
Bond's attacks on Republicans, usually delivered at the NAACP's annual convention, represented new lows. He once accused former President George W. Bush of appointing Cabinet members from "the Taliban wing" of American politics. At another convention, Bond accused Bush, who appointed both the first and second black secretaries of state, of wanting to repeal the 14th Amendment.
3. The NAACP has some apologizing to do, to the Republican Party, in general, and to former President George W. Bush, specifically. Yes, I'm determined, for the rest of my days, to torment the NAACP about that "issue ad" that ran during the 2000 presidential election.
True, the NAACP Voter Education Fund put out the so-called "issue ad," and, like the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, the Voter Education Fund is technically a different organization from the NAACP. But I've contended for years that the NAACP, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund and the NAACP Voter Education Fund all amount to adjoining pews in the same church. And let's not forget this about the NAACP VEF "issue ad": Bond defended its "accuracy.
Here's what the ad depicted: a pickup truck pulling a chain. A woman's voice, one that identified herself as the daughter of Jasper, Texas, lynching victim James Byrd, is heard saying that when then-Gov. George W. Bush of Texas refused to support hate crimes legislation, it was like seeing her father lynched all over again.
In 1998, three white supremacists lynched Byrd in Jasper, dragging him from the back of a truck. The ad wasn't just a backhanded endorsement of then-Vice President Al Gore's run for the presidency; it all but accused Bush of supporting lynching.
4. Not even President Obama takes the NAACP seriously anymore. That's why he sent Vice President Biden to speak in his stead. Biden speaking in lieu of Obama. Could there be a more egregious insult?
Examiner Columnist Gregory Kane is a Pulitzer-nominated news and opinion journalist who has covered people and politics from Baltimore to the Sudan.