Thursday, June 2, 2011

Proving A Negative

The hard-right think tank American Enterprise Institute argues that Herman Cain's mere existence absolves the Tea Party, conservatives, and Republicans from all charges of racism.

"The [tea party] movement is, in the mind of many in the Democratic Party and liberal organizations, rooted in a fundamentally racist view of America and of the president," wrote AEI scholar Lazar Berman in an article posted to the institute's online journal "Then why is Herman Cain, a conservative black businessman and radio host from Georgia, generating such excitement among the very people maligned as angry white racists?"

A staunch conservative who has wholly embraced the tea party's rhetoric and agenda, Cain was tied for second in a poll of Iowa Republican voters Wednesday. He came 5th among Republican primary voters in a national Gallup poll last week. Six weeks ago he received just 1 percent support in the same survey.

"[T]he Left loves to hurl the racist label at those who stand in the way of their policies and candidates," Berman wrote, adding that Cain proves the "grassroots anti-Obama movement is about ideas and the future of the country, not race."

"Racism is by no means dead in America," Berman concedes, but "the idea one must be racist to oppose Obama’s policies is cheap and intellectually feeble."

Oh I agree, you don't have to be a racist to be a Tea Party conservative Republican, nor are all of them racist.  But saying Herman Cain proves anything about the Tea Party is an equally "cheap and intellectually feeble" argument, one just as stupid and silly as saying all those who voted for Obama are anti-white racists.

But as I've explained before, racism is just a means to an end here, as the much bigger effort by the GOP is to paint Obama as "the other".  The racism argument is a canard, an easy way to muddy the waters with "both sides do it" false equivalence and straw men while the right continues to attack Obama from a number of "he's just not like us" angles.

Anti-Obama otherists have wrapped themselves in the flag of American exceptionalism, contending that Obama is different because he doesn't believe that the United States is special and superior to other nations. Last summer, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who at the time was mulling a bid for the GOP's 2012 presidential nomination, told Politico that Obama's "worldview is dramatically different than any president, Republican or Democrat, we've had… He grew up more as a globalist than an American. To deny American exceptionalism is in essence to deny the heart and soul of this nation." (In March, Huckabee, à la Gingrich, claimed, wrongly, that Obama had grown up in Kenya and had thus absorbed an anti-colonialist sentiment that prompted him to have a "very different view" of the British than "the average American.") In November, former GOP Sen. Rick Santorum, another 2012 wannabe, told College Republicans at American University, "America is exceptional, and Americans are concerned that there are a group of people in Washington who don't believe that any more."

Cain is only useful to the right precisely because he is racial cover for them, and last time I checked that's racism, pure and simple.  Doesn't take a think tank to come up with this.

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