Radio host and CNN contributor Roland Martin found himself at odds with many of his listeners Thursday over whether it was appropriate for Florida Democratic Rep. Alan Grayson to link the Tea Party to the Ku Klux Klan in a recent fundraising pitch.
Martin kicked of a series of fiery debates with callers by stating at the beginning of the radio segment that things like Grayson’s email only further the divide between political parties.
“To brand the Tea Party as the same as the KKK is wrong,” he said. “I think it’s wrong when the left does it, I think it’s wrong when the right does it.”
But several of Martin’s callers disagreed.
“[Tea partiers] are a joke,” said “Walter” in Washington, D.C. “They have nothing but racist contempt for the president.”
The caller added that the Tea Party has been “pimped by corporate America” to represent special interest groups. He continued, adding that former Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele is no longer welcome on Fox News because Steele is an “independent negro.”
The former RNC chair, the caller said, represents a “conservative negro getting his comeuppance by his white master.”
Of course, as Martin noted, Steele has an exclusive contract with MSNBC, which is why he doesn’t appear on other networks.
Another caller, “Barbara” in Baltimore, phoned in to accuse the Tea Party of being racist, citing Rep. Robert Ehrlich's (R-Md.) record of voting against “every single piece of civil rights legislation.”
“You believe it is fair and just to say the tea party is the same as the KKK?” Martin asked.
“When you use the confederate flag or come to events armed and whatnot, then I can speculate that,” the caller said.
Martin said he personally attended a rally where members of the New Black Panther Party showed up armed with shotguns.
“So if black people were armed, if Hispanic people were armed, are they then associated with the KKK?” he asked. “Just because they have arms doesn’t mean they’re with the KKK.”
“It’s my opinion, Roland!” the caller responded, to which Martin told her it was simply “wrong.”
You can listen to the debates here:
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This post's headline has been updated.