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Black congress members see racism rising

Sept. 23, 2009 at 12:46 PM
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WASHINGTON, Sept. 23 (UPI) -- Some black U.S. lawmakers say the proliferation of right-wing protest groups who vilify President Barack Obama is signaling a resurgence in racism.

Some of the 42 African-American members of Congress attending this week's four-day Congressional Black Caucus conference in Washington contend that this year's anti-tax "tea parties" and vociferous opposition to Obama's healthcare reform measures by protesters carrying signs depicting the president as Adolf Hitler or a witch doctor show racism is on the rise, the Washington publication Politico reported Wednesday.

The outburst by Rep. Joe Wilson, R-S.C., during Obama's recent address to a joint session of Congress in which Wilson shouted out "You lie!" could signal the return of "folks putting on white hoods and white uniforms again, riding through the countryside," said Rep. Hank Johnson, D-Ga., referring to the Ku Klux Klan.

CBC member Rep. Jim Clyburn, D-S.C., told Politico that the economic downturn is enabling those who oppose Obama politically to exploit racial tensions for their own goals, suggesting that some of the opposition to healthcare reform is racism "hiding behind something else."

"One thing it shows us is that we don't live in a post-racial society," added Elsie Scott, president and CEO of the CBC Foundation.

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