Washington, D.C.: Deneen Borelli, full-time fellow with the Project 21 black leadership network and frequent speaker at tea party rallies, says Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN)'s recent comparison of tea party rally participants to members of the Ku Klux Klan is baseless.
What's more, Project 21's Borelli notes, Cohen should know better, as he himself suffered similar charges during his last primary election campaign.
Borelli said: "Representative Cohen's comments seem to be the norm these days in the effort to dispatch anyone opposing the progressives' big-government agenda. The goal of partisans such as Cohen is obviously to demonize and discredit ordinary citizens - people who attend rallies, town hall meetings, make phone calls and visit their representatives with the simple, legitimate concern of wanting to preserve their liberty."
"The tea party movement is making a positive difference for the direction of our country in a manner that would make our Founding Fathers proud, and the derogatory comments targeting these freedom-loving citizens really only shames those hurling them," added Borelli. "And it is especially odd that Representative Cohen was the one hurling the mud this time. Two years ago, he suffered through an opponent publicly comparing him to a Klansman. He certainly must not have enjoyed that. Is Cohen that tone-deaf that he is willing to immediately turn around and use the same vitriol against others?"
Borelli continued: "Let's not forget that none of the racial allegations made against tea partiers the weekend of the Obamacare vote have yet been corroborated by video or audio. Representative Cleaver, who initially charged he was spat upon, has even begun to distance himself from his allegation."
While appearing on "The Young Turks" radio show on Sirius XM satellite radio April 1, Cohen said tea party rally participants "are, kind of, without robes and hoods" and "against any type of diversity." He later suggested the motivation behind the tea parties are not necessarily issues but "to be against Barack Obama and Rahm Emanuel and the different people." He additionally called the sight of people protesting on the U.S. Capitol grounds on the day of the Sunday Obamacare vote in the House of Representatives "a very sad scene on America." The interview can be viewed on YouTube at http://tw0.us/A7W.
Cohen represents a majority-black congressional district in Memphis. In 2008, Nikki Tinker, a primary opponent, ran television ads that placed a photo of Cohen next to one of a Klansman. Tinker based the implication against Cohen on the fact that, as a member of the Center City Commission, Cohen once voted against exhuming the body of the late Confederate General (and KKK founder) Nathan Bedford Forrest from Forrest Park in Memphis.
Project 21, a leading voice of black conservatives since 1992, is sponsored by The National Center for Public Policy Research (www.nationalcenter.org).