DALLAS, August 10 (AP)--An NAACP branch president is quitting the organization after being suspended for remarks he made about Sen. Joseph Lieberman, the first Jew named to a major national party presidential ticket. Lee Alcorn's resignation late Wednesday after two decades of NAACP service came in the wake of nationwide rebuke from other civil rights leaders.
NAACP national President Kweisi Mfume had suspended Alcorn earlier in the day, saying he found his comments on a talk show about Lieberman to be "anti-Semitic and anti-NAACP."
Alcorn, the Dallas NAACP branch president, said Monday that Gore's selection of Lieberman--an Orthodox Jew--as a running mate was "suspicious."
Julian Bond, chairman of the national NAACP board of directors, called Alcorn's remarks "hateful, repulsive, and ignorant."
"I support Lieberman being on that ticket strongly," said the Rev. Jesse Jackson, speaking at the White House shortly after receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom. "When we live in our faith, we live under the law. He is a firewall of exemplary behavior."
Jackson, asked whether Alcorn's remarks indicate a coming backlash of anti-Semitism, said, "We're going to have more expressions of darkness, but we're also going to have more expressions of light. The forces of light will dispel those forces of darkness. We will prevail."
Alcorn, speaking on a KHVN talk show in Fort Worth, said Monday: "If we get a Jew person, then what I'm wondering is, I mean, what is this movement for, you know? Does it have anything to do with the failed peace talks? So I think we need to be very suspicious of any kind of partnerships between the Jews at that kind of level because we know that their interest primarily has to do with money and these kind of things."
A spokesman for Texas Gov. George W. Bush, the GOP nominee, condemned Alcorn's statement. "When it comes to fighting anti-Semitism, Governor Bush and Secretary Cheney stand shoulder to shoulder with all Americans in condemning such foolish utterances," said Ari Fleischer.
Alcorn, who had been suspended three times previously by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People during his five years as Dallas chapter president, said the organization has lost its focus on civil rights.
"The focus now is to raise money or to keep NAACP chapter presidents like myself who criticize the organization, to keep them in their place by revoking or suspending their membership," Alcorn told The Dallas Morning News, adding he was leaving the organization because "I can no longer work under these restraints." He said he had anticipated a break with the NAACP and so had formed his own civil rights organization, the Coalition for the Advancement of Civil Rights.
"I misspoke by making reference to Jews and Jewish people," Alcorn said, but added that his radio show comments were taken out of context. "I should have made my comments specifically to Lieberman."