Thursday, April 15, 2010

why this "tea" so salty and tangy?

WaPo | The debate ratcheted up this week as two prominent black conservatives, Thomas Sowell and Ward Connerly, decried accusations of tea party racism. Connerly defended the movement and wrote in a National Review column that "race is the engine that drives the political Left."

"In the courtrooms, on college campuses, and, most especially, in our politics, race is a central theme. Where it does not naturally rise to the surface, there are those who will manufacture and amplify it," Connerly said. "Such is the case with the claims that the 'Tea Partiers' are a bunch of racists and that many of them spat upon members of the Congressional Black Caucus. . . . I am convinced beyond any doubt that all of this is part of the strategic plan being implemented by the Left in its current campaign to remake America."

Similarly, Sowell wrote a commentary on the Web site GOPUSA cautioning Americans to "stay away from injecting race into political issues" and doubting news reports and firsthand accounts by members of Congress that tea party protesters directed racial slurs at black legislators as they walked to the Capitol to cast their votes.

"This is a serious charge -- and one deserving of some serious evidence," Sowell said. "But, despite all the media recording devices on the scene, not to mention recording devices among the crowd gathered there, nobody can come up with a single recorded sound to back up that incendiary charge. Worse yet, some people have claimed that even doubting the charge suggests that you are a racist."

Yet Lenny McAllister, a Republican commentator and author, said he has seen racism within the tea party and has confronted it -- approaching people with racially derogatory signs of President Obama and asking them to take the signs down. Like Brice, he said leaders of the movement must not ignore the issue.

"I feel like the tea party movement is at its core a good thing for America. It is a group of citizens that have not been previously involved," McAllister said. "The people are speaking up and becoming more educated on the issues, but you have fringe elements that are defining this good thing with their negative, hateful behavior."

McAllister, who has spoken at several tea party gatherings, said the movement is more diverse than news clips show. "There is this perception that these are all old, white racists and that's not the case," he said.

According to a USA Today/Gallup Poll taken last month, about 79 percent of tea party members are white and 6 percent are black, with 15 percent falling into other racial categories.

Debate about race and the tea party has also been intense among black conservatives online. Comments on the blog Booker Rising, a popular forum for blacks who follow the tenets of Booker T. Washington's conservatism, and the site Hip Hop Republican have been across the board.

Jean Howard-Hill, a moderate Republican who leads the National Republican African American Caucus, wrote that she is "not sure what's in the cup of tea."

"Any movement which cannot openly denounce racism, calling it out as wrong troubles me," she wrote. "To attack President Obama on his policy is one thing, but to do so on his race or some hysterical pretext of socialism is yet another." Fist tap BTx3.

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