Conservative think tank: Herman Cain’s rise proves the tea party is not racist

By Sahil Kapur
Thursday, June 2, 2011 9:51 EDT
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WASHINGTON – Former Godfather’s Pizza CEO Herman Cain’s rise in the Republican primary polls refutes charges of racism within the tea party movement, the conservative think tank American Enterprise Institute argued Thursday.

“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 TheAmerican.com. “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.”

Liberals argue that the tea party’s rhetoric — as displayed in rallies — has tended to have racial undertones, while the movement’s dedicated opposition to progressive legislation and spending is racially motivated and often harmful to minority communities.

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