Commenter tanstaafl steals a point I had wanted to make:

From the linked article, “The Southern Poverty Law Center says the New Black Panther Party, a black-separatist group founded in 1989, is “virulently racist and anti-Semitic,” and its leaders have encouraged violence against whites, Jews and law officers.”

The article doesn’t mention that they are also tiny, have no support from left-wing groups and were virtually irrelevant before the Republicans turned them into stereotypes of the “scary black man” after the 2008 polling place incident. So they aren’t a subsidiary of the Republican Party dirty tricks department, but they appear to be willing to be used as such if the alternative is being ignored.

Exactly. Politically, the New Black Panthers are a big festive piñata filled with white populism—a lot of politicians and pundits who know that the group is a shell of its former incarnation nonetheless sound the fear-trumpet over the Panthers whenever possible since this is such irresistible red meat to a certain brand of conservative voter.

Jesse Singal

Jesse Singal is a former opinion writer for The Boston Globe and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. He is currently a master's student at Princeton's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Policy. Follow him on Twitter at @jessesingal.