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NBC Contributor Calls Rubio a 'Coconut'

Plus: Dallas Tea Partiers respond to Keith Olbermann.

4:18 PM, Feb 23, 2010 • By MARY KATHARINE HAM
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Perhaps Donny Deutsch will argue that "coconut," a racial slur implying that a person of color is a sell-out who is brown on the outside and white on the inside, is far more nuanced than "Oreo," and therefore acceptable.

As Michelle notes, in the link above, the conservatives-as-racists meme is getting very, very old. Keith Olbermann put conservatives and Tea Party supporters in an almost impossible position last week by using his Special Comment to urge us all to admit our racism. He wondered aloud where all the minorities are that believe in small government. He suggested that their absence was all the evidence needed of the movment's hostility to people of color.

Of course, responding to such a charge is nearly impossible without ending up in an unfortunate "some of our best protesters are black" moment. In fact that's precisely the argument Olbermann tried when asked about the lack of diversity in MSNBC's line-up. He answered, in part:

"We get Clarence Page on whenever we can..."

"Some of my best guests are black!"

The Dallas Tea Party, on the other hand, deals with the accusation quite gracefully, inviting Keith Olbermann to their Tea Party to meet the participants for himself. They note that their three-person Tea Party planning committee is more diverse than the MSNBC line-up, and the minority conservatives Olbermann says don't exist speak for themselves:

But "coconuts" and "Oreos" aren't really people, are they? Do they even count? Presumably, the MSNBC research department will get back to us on that.

Update: Deutsch says he just meant "coconut," as in "loopy" or "bananas" and didn't know it could be a racially charged word.

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