Those members of the NAACP who booed Mitt Romney as he spoke at the organization’s annual convention in Houston fell into a clever political trap set up by the Republican presidential candidate’s campaign.
Romney should pay a big bonus to the operatives who arranged for him to address the overwhelmingly middle income Black folks in attendance at the convention. When members of the audience booed Romney’s description of the health care bill as “Obamacare” rather the Affordable Care Act, his political operatives probably did some high-fiving and chest-bumping while declaring -- mission accomplished.
They knew that would elicit booes that would impress those Whites who delight in seeing a white man stand up to what they consider pushy, freeloading Negroes. Also Romney’s operatives, including those twenty Blacks who were a part of his posse, knew there would be some kind of negative reaction from the audience when he said “If you want a president who will make things better for African Americans, you are looking at him.”
Most of the press just didn’t get it or at least pretended it didn’t. For instance, a Washington Post reporter wrote of Romney being casted “as someone willing to forcefully speak his piece even in unfriendly territory.” A Wall Street Journal editorial began with “Mitt Romney dared to speak to the NAACP convention on Wednesday…” In other words a courageous, principled Mitt Romney stood his ground against the representatives of big government free loaders.
What the NAACPers should have done was to listen to Romney in total silence, clap briefly when he finished his speech and bid him farewell. Jimmy Hicks, a legendary columnist with the New York Amsterdam News before his death, once said that the most impressive protest event he ever saw in his many years as a journalist occurred when several hundred angry members of the Nation of Islam stood in total silence before a New York City police department precinct building on 132nd Street in Harlem where one of their members were being held. There was no slogans being shouted, no singing of songs, no waving of signs or posters, just Black people coldly staring at that building. Jimmy said it so thoroughly messed with the nerves of the police officers that they relented and let Brother Malcolm X see the Brother they were holding.
Such a tactic by the NAACPers may very well have diminished much of the joy of Romney and his operatives. Other Black organizations should treat what happened at the NAACP convention as a learning experience.