INTERVIEW: NAACP condemns Webb article, Senator calls for ending diversity programs

By Ryan Nobles - bio | email
Posted by Terry Alexander - email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - There has been strong reaction to a controversial op-ed piece written by Virginia Senator Jim Webb and the response by the state's chapter of the NAACP. In the letter, the organization's Executive Director emphatically disagrees with Senator Webb's words on the topics of diversity programs like about affirmative action. And joining us to discuss his reaction is King Salim Khalfani. He is the man who wrote the letter. Thank you for being here, sir.

King Salim Khalfani: My pleasure.

Ryan Nobles: Part of what Senator Webb hoped to accomplish with writing this op-ed article was to start a discussion on the role of these diversity programs across the country. I know you disagree with his premise, but do you think it was appropriate for him to raise the question?

King Salim Khalfani: You know, you don't start a discussion by sucker punching someone in the nose and breaking their nose and then say let's talk. So first of all, in his op-ed piece, his very first sentence was the NAACP thinks the Tea Party is racist. Our resolution said if they have racist members or people who exhibit racial behavior, that they should expel them, so his premise began with a lie. And everybody knows that we were real clear that we didn't call the Tea Party racist and for him to begin an international op-ed piece with this is disingenuous us with at best.

Ryan Nobles: One of the things that you've been criticized about in the wake of this editorial and your reaction to it is the inflammatory language you use in your writing. In fact, you call Tea Party members by using the term Tea baggers in the letter. How would you respond to people who say the way you wrote this letter was inflammatory and was a way to draw headlines?

King Salim Khalfani: When you spit on congressman, use the n word and other racial epithets, when you depict the president as a witch doctor and Hitler; I think that's inflammatory. If they think this doesn't affect people, it affects our everyday lives and yeah, I'm angry.

Ryan Nobles: What do you hope to gain with this? Do you hope to meet with Senator Webb, educate him on this point of view?

King Salim Khalfani: We don't hope to meet with him, we demand it. He works for us, we don't work for him. We elected him. He's a life member of the Virginia State Conference NAACP, so we're going to have a come home to Jesus meeting with the senator and express our views. Elected officials work for the people, not the other way around.

Ryan Nobles: I sense by what you're saying to me today and what you wrote in the letter that you were offended by what Senator Webb wrote, and if you were, what specifically could you point to that made you the most angry?

King Salim Khalfani: The lie that we said the Tea Party is racist, and he lied about several things. You know, he said the myth of white privilege. It's a white privilege country. Nobody denies that and if you want to deal with affirmative action, the primary beneficiaries have been as he described white Anglo-Saxon protestant women, so if he wants to kill it, he will be killing it in his own family.

Ryan Nobles: The concern that a lot of people seem to have about this discussion in general is that it becomes people screaming at each other. Do you think that you and the senator and other people involved in this discussion can sit down and have a man-to-man talk, or a woman-to-man talk, or a group of people together and have a common sense discussion about this issue?

King Salim Khalfani: I meet with presidents, U.S. senators, governors all the time. You've never seen me arrested or I hadn't beaten anybody up yet, so I'm sure we can. We always do.

Ryan Nobles: All right. Thank you, sir, for being here and we'll talk more about this issue in the days ahead.

King Salim Khalfani: My pleasure.

See the video at right for the full interview.

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