I already knew that radical Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas has real contempt for President Barack Obama, but his recent racially-offensive joke was a broad slap at black people from Austin to Africa.

Cruz, speaking to a crowd in Houston, Texas, took a narrow-minded shot at Obama’s struggling website launch for the Affordable Care Act and managed to insult black people on two continents.

“You may have noticed that all the Nigerian email scammers have become a lot less active lately,” Cruz told the audience. “They all have been hired to run the Obamacare website.”

Really? A black joke? Republicans are nothing if not predictable. But it’s getting old.

By using “Nigerian” in his warped wisecrack, was Cruz deliberately trying to link Obama to scammers because Obama’s father is African? (Obama’s father is actually from Kenya, so perhaps Cruz also needs an Africa geography lesson.)

Or was Cruz trying to fire up his hate-filled conservative base by not-so-subtly introducing Obama’s African roots to the discussion of Obamacare, which Republicans are desperate to derail?

This is what passes for Republican leadership these days: Criticizing a black president through a sweeping generalization that African people are criminals. It’s slanderous, racially-offensive and, I believe, intentional.

Rep. Matt Cartwright called (D-PA) called Cruz’s joke misguided.

“Jokes about Nigerian scammers, you know, I wonder how much off the cuff that really was, and how calculated it was to appeal to Sen. Cruz’s base, many of whom believe that the president is from Africa,” Cartwright said this week on MSNBC.

Asked by host Michael Eric Dyson why Republicans play to “implicit” racial tensions, Cartwright said: “I don’t know that they’re doing that, Michael, but I will say that I suspect it. And whether they’re doing it on purpose, it does appeal to the people who think that way. There are, you know, a lot of fairly backward people that are a part of the base of people like Sen. Cruz. And comments like that just are right up their alley.”

I hope black and Latino Democrats in Texas remember this moment and vote against Cruz in next year’s mid-term elections.

In the wake of the GOP-driven 18-day government shutdown over Obamacare, 75 percent of Americans say most Republican members of Congress don’t deserve to be re-elected, according to a new CNN/ORC poll. A majority of those questioned blamed congressional Republicans for the government shutdown and said the president was the bigger winner in the deal to end the crisis.

But where is the outrage from black Republicans?  The GOP is aggressively trying to court black voters and claims to be a party of inclusion. And now, here is Cruz, telegraphing a message to his constituents that making racial jokes about Obama –and black people – is totally acceptable.

Cruz hasn’t offered an apology and unfortunately Republicans – black or white – have not demanded one. Their silence only condones Cruz’s bigotry.

Perhaps Cruz should pay attention to a letter that Obama sent to House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) Wednesday regarding the continuation of the national emergency in the Democratic Republic of the Congo where violence has gripped the region.

But then again, Cruz would probably just make a joke about it since it involves Obama — and some place in Africa.

(Photo: AP)

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