The NAACP says the Tea Party crowd needs to expel its not-so-hidden racists.

The New Black Panther Party is suddenly Outrage Number One on talking-head TV.

And with the fresh controversy in Arizona, the debate over illegal immigration is turning personal again, focused on a large group of brown-skinned people known derisively as THEM.

Who says we’re living in a post-racial America? Maybe we’re post-post racial now.

There was a moment, between the election of Barack Obama and his first couple of months in office, that it was possible, optimistically, to imagine that race no longer mattered so much in our politics.

How naïve that’s sounding now!

Black and white, brown and yellow – when they’re in the news again these days, it isn’t to celebrate multiculturalism. Five-plus decades after the first civil-rights decisions, with urban rap music now the official soundtrack of white suburban youth, the pointed finger is America’s most prominent gesture again, not the outstretched hand.

Aren’t so sure? Then look at this week’s news budget on cable TV.

After several ugly racial incidents at Tea Party rallies, the NAACP passed a unanimous resolution that has drawn outrage from Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin and other Tea Party favorites. “We’re simply asking them to repudiate racist acts and bigotry in their ranks or accept responsibility,” president Ben Jealous said.

Not that it did much good.

At the same time, after a several year lull, talk radio is abuzz again with harshly personal immigration talk. This only question? Will all the heat fire up the white Republican base or cement Latino support for Democrats?

That, at least, is an interesting political calculation. How to explain the belated uproar over a New Black Panther party whacko outside a Philadelphia polling place in 2008?

King Samir Shabazz, with his nightstick and his talk of “cracker babies,” doesn’t seem to have actually intimated anyone from voting. And he’s such a fringe character even the old Black Panthers seem to think he’s nuts.

But to count up the minutes this whack-job has been getting on cable news, it’s amazing anyone in Pennsylvania managed to vote at all.

Ellis Henican is a columnist for Newsday and amNewYork and a Fox News contributor.

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