Rep. Andre Carson, D-Indiana, is under fire for what some consider incendiary remarks he made last week at a gathering of the Congressional Black Caucus.
According to reports on The Huffington Post
, Carson told attendees at a job tour visit in Miami that members of the tea party are "comfortable with where we were 50 and 60 years ago."
"Some of them in Congress right now of this tea party movement would love to see you and me ... hanging on a tree," Carson said, eliciting a boisterous cheer from attendees.
Carson also referred to the tea party movement as reminiscent of Jim Crow, referring to previous laws in the U.S. before the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Audio of Carson's remarks was first released Tuesday on the website of conservative commentator Glenn Beck.
The Huffington Post said it contacted Carson's office and that his representatives confirmed the remarks were his, adding that the congressman's comments were in response to tea party efforts to gut services that African-Americans and other minorities rely on.
Carson told 6News' Joanna Massee
that his comments about the tea party were taken out of context.
"I think my statements have become a huge distraction. I made a reference to some elements of the tea party. I think the tea party has made some valid points as far as calling on the government to increase transparency as it relates to leadership. I stand on the truth of what I said, but the language that I used has become a distraction. It was not my intent to hurt anyone. It was to reflect the pain of what I felt," Carson said.
The tea party remarks contrasted those made by Carson earlier this year in the aftermath of the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Arizona.
"I think we have to recognize that we're all fellow human beings, one, and that we have philosophical differences, but those differences have to be met with some kind of civility," Carson said in that interview with 6News in January.
At the time, Carson said he believed debate should focus on policy and not rhetoric.
"It's unacceptable whether you're Democratic or Republican. We have to sit down and see how we can come together and debate and critique each other with civility, with respect and with honor," Carson said.
Carson, who represents Indianapolis, has been in Congress since 2008, a seat long held by his grandmother, Julia Carson.
Indianapolis Tea Party North Co-founder David Blank said he took Carson's statements personally.
"Of all of the people that I've met at tea party rallies, blacks and whites, Filipinos and Hispanics, I've not met any of them that had any type of racist sentiment at all," Blank said.
Indianapolis talk show host Amos Brown also took aim at the tea party and took calls from listeners who supported Carson's remarks.
"I might have used a different choice of words, but I think the tea party really has not done a good job of reaching out to communities of colors across the country," Brown said.
6News' political contributor Abdul-Hakim Shabazz weighed in on Carson's comments.
"When congressman Carson makes a statement about the tea party and lynching, it draws back to those old really disturbing images. It's unfortunate that he would use these choice of words when he just said a few months ago that this type of rhetoric is uncalled for," Hakim-Shabazz said.
Carson supporters said they were at a loss for words after hearing his comments.
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