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Deval Patrick balks at attributing racism to Obama’s Tea Party opposition

Governor Deval Patrick, the first black governor of Massachusetts and a close friend of the first black president of the United States, would not say today if he felt, like famed African-American actor Morgan Freeman, racism is motivating Tea Party opposition to Barack Obama.

“I can tell you that it’s clear from the evidence that the, ‘To heck with the interests of the common good, whatever we need to do to derail this presidency,’ has characterized some if not all Tea Party behavior in the United States. There’s no doubt about it,’’ the governor said this morning during his monthly appearance on WTKK-FM.

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When co-host Jim Braude pushed to see if Patrick attributed that behavior to racism, the governor added: “Whatever the reason. I remember, I don’t know if it was a year, or a year-and-a -half ago, and I described some of this behavior as ‘seditious.’ Remember that? Because, to me, no matter who the president is, at a time of crisis, our job as patriots is to come together and figure out how to help each other out of this crisis. And the notion that the singular focus of the hard right today is to defeat this president, even if there is an idea he puts forward to help – that they used to support – is incredibly worrisome to me and a very different political climate, I think, than we’ve been dealing with for a long time.’’

Asked again if it betrayed racism, Patrick said: “I don’t know. I’ve told you before that one of the curses of racism in this country is that you’re always asking yourself if the stuff that goes wrong is on account of race. I hope it’s not.’’

Patrick served as the Justice Department’s chief civil rights officer during the Clinton administration.

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Freeman played apartheid opponent and former South Africa President Nelson Mandela in the movie “Invictus.’’

Appearing last week on CNN’s “Piers Morgan Tonight,’’ Freeman said of the Tea Party movement: “Their stated policy, publicly stated, is to do whatever it takes to see to it that Obama only serves one term. What underlines that? ‘Screw the country. We’re going to whatever we can to get this black man outta here.’’’

When Morgan suggested the Tea Party’s motivations may be more political than racial, Freeman replied: “It is a racist thing.’’

The actor also said the Tea Party agenda “just shows the weak, dark, underside of America. We’re supposed to be better than that.’’

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