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'It's become more of this rally of hate'

Krissah Thompson's must-read piece on black conservatives and the tea parties makes for solid companion reading with yesterday's much-linked AP story about black tea partiers and CNN's piece about nonexistent tea party racism.

The story, Thompson finds, is a little less pleasant, a little more complicated. Here's Brandon Brice, who spoke at last year's April 15 tea party in New York alongside Newt Gingrich, criticizing the movement.

It's strayed away from the message of wasteful spending and Washington not listening to its constituents, and it's become more of this rally of hate. The tea party leaders should apologize on behalf of the irresponsible comments that were made, but they should also stand very firm on where we stood and where they stood in 2009.

Thompson finds a mixture of black conservatives who are worried about this and those who are angrier at the media for pretending there's any racism in the movement at all.

The ones who are angry at the media have, up to now, gotten the most attention. Black tea party speakers such as Angela McGlowan and Lloyd Marcus spent a good amount of their time and energy defending tea parties from charges of racism, painting progressives and Democrats as the real racists for maintaining the welfare state.

I'm always surprised when I hear tea partiers argue that the presence of black speakers onstage -- welcomed by thunderous applause -- proves that the movement is diverse. Obviously, it's overwhelmingly white. But for a very long time, conservatives tried to appeal to black voters on social issues, wedge issues like school choice, and patronizing framing of economic issues that accused Democrats of putting blacks on a "plantation."

The straight-up libertarian rhetoric of the tea parties is generally giving black conservatives more to work with, more of a level playing field. But that rhetoric has always been tied in a backlash against federal spending on non-whites and federal intervention to integrate schools and industries. Some of the people that it attracts will be anathemas to black conservatives. And it's a little silly to pretend, as CNN pretended, there's no tension here.

By David Weigel  |  April 8, 2010; 8:22 AM ET
Categories:  Conservatives , Tea Party  
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