Republicans playing the ‘race card’ always make me chuckle. Clarence Thomas was one of the first, and his “high-tech” lynch mob has perhaps never been equaled for weird political finesse. Now we have Michael Steele of the RNC calling for Harry Reid to resign, and deploring the “double standard” at play in race-talk.
Yes, well, I think the root of the problem is that we Americans still don’t like being reminded that race is an issue in this country. So Reid’s comments, quoted in the NYTimes as
suggesting that Barack Obama could become the first African-American president because he was “light-skinned” and because he did not speak with a “negro dialect” unless he wanted to…
strike me as a simple statement of fact about the mind of the American electorate. The guy who cuts my hair said before the election,
“I don’t know if I’m ready for a black president. Have you seen Michelle Obama? She’s really black!’
So, was Harry so far off the mark, about some Americans at least?
Then there’s Trent Lott, the martyr of the Republicans:
At a 100th birthday tribute to Senator Strom Thurmond of South Carolina in 2002, Mr. Lott alluded favorably to Mr. Thurmond’s campaign for president as a segregationist Dixiecrat in 1948, saying the nation would have been better off had Mr. Thurmond been elected.
This displays poor political judgement or a strong committment to segregation, take your pick. I’m not arguing here that Lott deserved to be forced out, although I think he’s a right-wing ideologue, but the two statements are hardly equal.
Interesting also how the republicans get to have it both ways. When Thurmond was accused of secretly fathering a child with a black woman, it was denounced as vicious propaganda and slander. (What was the accusation of sin that most upset them I wonder – sex with a black woman or adultery?) When it turned out to be completely true, somehow it became evidence of his all-too-frail humanity.