The Left has long styled itself as the champion of civil rights, the party of minorities, and the nemesis of racism. Implicit, and so often explicit, in its self-characterization as the tolerant party is the charge that the GOP is the party of white racists and bigots. Allegations of racism leveled at the GOP, from sources such as Morgan Freeman or Bill Maher, are nothing new and do not require recounting here. Now, however, a black man leads the race for the Republican presidential nomination. The Democratic response has been puzzling and remarkably unfair.
According to many liberals, Republican and Tea Party support for Herman Cain is actually a product of conservative racism. Take, for example, MSNBC commentator and Democratic strategist Karen Finney, who said of the “white Republican base” Friday: “I think they like [Herman Cain] because they think he is a black man who knows his place.”
Or MSNBC host Ed Schultz, who recently claimed Herman Cain appeals to “white Republicans out there who don’t like black folks.” Schultz also attacked alleged vice presidential contender Jim DeMint for being racist because he used the word “break.” Apparently “break” is an “old southern racist term,” and Schultz brought on Lehigh University Director of Africana Studies James Peterson to confirm that the word “breaking” was “a term that was used to destroy, mentally and physically, slaves.” Dr. Peterson continued on to state that DeMint’s use of ‘break’ “gives you kind of a sense of how dark some of these racial discourses can be in presidential politics.”
Or comedian and apparent political commentator Janeane Garofalo, who said on Keith Olbermann’s “Countdown” that “Herman Cain is probably well-liked by some of the Republicans, because it hides the racist elements of the Republican Party, conservative movement, and Tea Party movement—one in the same. People like Karl Rove like to keep the racism very covert, and so Herman Cain provides this great opportunity”.
This list goes on and on. Yet clearly liberal commentators are getting desperate and inventive in their methods of labeling the GOP as racist.
Republicans like Herman Cain for many reasons—reasons that don’t have to do with his skin color. He is a Washington outsider, successful businessman, and alternative to Mitt Romney. He has suggested a bold revision of the tax code and extols the value of common sense. His stances on racism, namely that it is possible for African Americans to work hard and succeed despite the American history and reality of racism, are consistent with the larger conservative principles of rugged individualism, of taking responsibility for yourself. Republicans don’t like Herman Cain because he is black, and they don’t dislike him because he is black. They like him for his ideas and character. Racists who wished to conceal their prejudice by supporting an African American might support a black candidate for the school board or state legislature. They would not genuinely support a black man for the highest office in the land.
Herman Cain is not the only conservative minority on the rise. Marco Rubio, the son of Cuban immigrants, is also now a leading member of the Republican Party and potential nominee to the presidential ticket. Perhaps some, and by no means all, on the Left feel threatened by the increasing diversity at the top of the GOP power structure. They might see their hold on the minority vote eroding or their gravest political tool, racism allegations, slipping away. Regardless, the current frenzy of accusations of racism aimed at the Republican Party is exceptionally unfair and must stop. If the Democratic Party truly values tolerance over racism and progress over partisanship, then why is it attacking rather than applauding the rise of Herman Cain?
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