Florida Rep. Alan Grayson argues that the Tea Party is "no more popular than the Klan." And in case you didn't get the point, an email from his campaign illustrates it, complete with burning cross filling in for the "T" in "tea."
Grayson — who lost his seat in 2010 to a Republican and won it back last year — first compared the Tea Party to the Ku Klux Klan on Al Sharpton's Politics Nation. "The Republican Party's been the largest suicide pact in history," Grayson said, in the less controversial portion of his comments.
"Frankly, [Americans] want their money back and they want the Tea Party out of their lives. At this point, the Tea Party is no more popular than the Klan."
Sharpton didn't react.
Grayson's probably wrong on that point, for what it's worth. In 2011, Public Policy Polling found that only 7 percent of Southerners had a higher opinion of the Klan than the NAACP. That figure would possibly be lower in other parts of the country. The Tea Party, meanwhile, is supported by 41 percent of Republicans, according to a recent Pew poll. The Tea Party is still more popular.
But here's the beginning of a fundraising email Grayson's campaign PAC sent out, via Dave Levinthal of the Center for Public Integrity.
Do you get it? The Klan uses large, flaming crosses in order to terrify black residents of the South as part of an organized campaign of terror, and that cross looks sort of like a T. That's the reference. "Now You Know What the 'T' Stands For," the caption reads. And here we thought it was some sort of reference to Christianity.
Grayson, who isn't a dummy, didn't say that the Tea Party — which is stronger in the South — is like the Klan in tactics or philosophy. He just compared their popularity, and then someone on his campaign team ran with the reference (presumably with the congressman's blessing).
There is a very easy way to determine when it is appropriate to compare your opponents to the Klan: when they are actively members of the Klan. At all other times, such comparisons are not recommended.