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The GOP's Racial Disconnect

Nnpa | 10/1/2012, 11:18 a.m.

Republican political consultant Raynard Jackson also criticizes both parties. He says the GOP is unlikely to attract voters of color by featuring a diverse lineup of convention speakers. "It was a stupid strategy," he says. "It's not going to provide any dividends. It's insulting."

Jackson says the media should have examined how many people of color have influential positions in Romney's campaign, and he notes that Romney has no people of color controlling his campaign budget or exercising authority over others. Jackson says he doesn't consider that Tara Wall, a senior communications adviser to the campaign who serves primarily to help with African-American outreach, is such a figure.

Jackson criticizes both parties for not granting more interviews to the Black press.

Last week, on TheLoop21.com, the Black interest website, political blogger Aaron Morrison wrote an op-ed headlined "GOP Leaders Won't Acknowledge Party Racism Because They Don't Have To." He says the sheer whiteness of the Republican Party has made race an issue that conservatives don't even have to engage. But he says media should point out that Republicans have backed photo-ID laws and cuts to social services, moves that could hurt communities of color.

Moreover, Morrison says Rubio and two other minority speakers at the convention -- former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Mia Love, a Utah congressional candidate -- don't appear to believe that institutional racism is a major problem, a viewpoint that largely contrasts with feelings of civil rights groups.

Rice, for example, is "a woman who is proud to be Black," Morrison says. "She transcended and overcome a lot of racial discrimination. Her story is racism still exists but Blacks can achieve and go really far in life."

While that statement is true, Morrison notes that not everyone can pull themselves up by the bootstraps.

During the GOP convention, Republicans also featured people from different religious faiths. A Sikh was invited to deliver a prayer, a seeming show of solidarity after Wade Michael Page, an Army veteran with White supremacist ties, shot and killed six Sikhs at a Wisconsin temple in August. Page's motive remains unclear, but reports have speculated that he mistook the Sikhs for Muslims.

Corey Saylor, legislative director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Washington, says Republicans must be held accountable for anti-Muslim legislation and rhetoric.

In July, Rep. Michelle Bachmann (R-Minn.) and four other conservative Republicans in Congress accused Huma Abedin, deputy chief of staff to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, of having ties to the Muslim Brotherhood, an international political group linked to terrorism.

"What we see is rhetoric that essentially defines Muslims as a threat to frighten voters," Saylor says. "It's an unfortunate trend we see in the Republican Party."

Saylor says the media must do more than simply repeat politicians' wild accusations about Muslims, noting that former presidential contenders Herman Cain and Newt Gingrich have also spoken negatively about them. Repeating such claims without analysis fuels misperceptions about Muslims, Saylor says.

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) called the charges against Abedin "sinister accusations" with "no logic, no basis and no merit," and House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) said, ". . . I think accusations like this being thrown around are pretty dangerous." GOP conservatives haven't been as quick to counter Islamophobic rhetoric.

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