Charles Rangel says crackers in the tea party are the same as the violent segregationists who stood against the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s, remarks that are drawing controversy in Washington.
The Congressman from New York, known for colorful and often controversial statements, has been vocal in his opposition to tea party groups that arose in 2009 to speak out against President Obama and federal spending.
In an interview with the Daily Beast published Friday, Rangel compared the tea partiers to so-called crackers from the 1960s who attacked Civil Rights activists.
“It is the same group we faced in the south with those white crackers and the dogs and the police,” he said. “They didn’t care about how they looked. It was just fierce indifference to human life that caused America to say enough is enough.”
Rangel has been no stranger to controversy. As a long-running Congressman from Harlem and chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, he has been criticized for his use of congressional stationary to fundraise for the school of public service at the City University of New York and for a tax scandal related to his Dominican villa.
In the interview Rangel also attacked Republican leadership for blocking immigration reform, saying their opposition stems from a deep-rooted racism that manifests in fear of foreigners.
“Every white son of a gun from Europe has found a way to get here, and these barriers I think have a lot to do with color and the awkwardness or the uncomfortableness that a lot of whites feel about people of color,” he explained.
While Rangel and his crackers comment generated controversy, it was not the only inflammatory statement made in the interview. The Congressman also claimed that Republicans were sabotaging American competitiveness, saying “terrorists couldn’t do a better job than Republicans are doing.”