Commentary Magazine


Study Smears Tea Party Again

The Left is having a hard time coping with Herman Cain’s rise to Tea Party favorite and top-tier GOP candidate. After all, if you presume the Tea Party to be racist, there does indeed seem to be a dissonance with the reality of a black candidate enjoying so much grassroots support. To reassure themselves, they dismiss Cain as some sort of token exception or misconceived PR stunt and continue to peddle the same tired allegations, hoping nobody will notice.

One particular study claims to indisputably capture the latent racism among Tea Partiers. Upon examination, however, the survey is far less sensational than its advocates would have us believe, and is actually far more revealing of their unsubstantiated impressions of conservative politics. For instance, the attention devoted to race by Tea Party websites is less than that of the mainstream conservative media – according to their own survey – unless one inexplicably includes, as the drafters do, “personal attacks on President Obama and content on race, immigration and gays and lesbians” in one pseudo-analytic race category.

Those who routinely complain about the political discourse in this country would be wise to direct their ire at those who denounce any personal attack on  the president and any skepticism towards prevailing immigration policy as racist.

As for the claims that, upon being asked, Tea Partiers reveal more discriminatory inclinations than other groups, this can be put down to narrow interpretation and the limitations of such surveys. For instance, respondents were confronted with the statement, “Irish, Italians, Jewish, and many other minorities overcame prejudice and worked their way up. Blacks should do the same without special favors.” Tea Partiers agreed in greater number than those in the “middle of road.”

With only the choice to agree or disagree, however, it comes as no surprise more conservative respondents agreed, and that is not necessarily because they are racist, but because of a general conservative intuition that no demographic should be entitled to any particularly special treatment. Indeed, mainstream conservatives object to affirmative action for those very reasons. And though liberals are welcome to disagree with this position, to reduce it, again, to mere racism, is a vulgar mischaracterization. Fundamentally, the Left cannot reconcile to its worldview the reality that conservatives in this country care less about race than liberals do, and conservatives refuse to view every political issue in racial terms.

The Left is fond of finding fault in its own country before seeing it abroad. Perhaps it might extend that proclivity to the easy task of seeing the fault in its own camp, down at Wall Street, before imagining it elsewhere.