Monday, January 11, 2010
What are everyone's thoughts on this Harry Reid controversy? For those of you who don't know, a new book revealed that Reid, leader of the Senate Democrats, made "racist" comments towards Barack Obama, calling him a "light-skinned" African-American "with no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one."
Reid issued an apology, and President Obama has accepted it. Prominent Democrats, as well as the nation's first black attorney, have defended Reid. Republicans are calling Democrats hypocrites, accusing them of applying a double-standard by calling out others on racism, but not their own. They are also calling for Reid's resignation. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, the chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, said in a statement that Reid should step down, calling his comments "embarrassing and racially insensitive."
Except, um, remember when the GOP and conservative activists were constantly guilty of distributing horrific materials attacking Obama for his race?
Methinks the Republicans aren't criticizing Democrats because they are genuinely offended by Reid's racist comments and by racism in general, but because they are using this as an opportunity to call us hypocrites.
Also, blogger Brian Montopoli of CBSNews.com made a good point. Look carefully at what Reid said. Reid didn't seem to be criticizing Obama, but instead describing how certain aspects of himself will work in his favor for election. Montopoli wrote:
On NBC's "Today" show Monday, Matt Lauer asked PBS' Gwen Ifill this question: "Isn't Harry Reid implying that a dark-skinned African American who speaks in a way that some would consider more stereotypical would not be electable?"
Ifill's response? Well, yes. Because it's true.
While Reid could have done a much better job structuring his comments, I don't find what he said racist. I find it true. The fact that Obama isn't very dark-skinned and speaks in a manner that Americans don't associate with the stereotypical person of color helped him win. We have said it time and time again: Obama's victory was a step in the right direction, but racism continues to plague America. Obama was an "acceptable" African-American, just like there are "acceptable" queer figures and "acceptable" feminists (see: Sarah Palin).
It is immoral to condone offensive remarks simply because they were made by an ally instead of an enemy, and I do think we should urge Reid to better exercise sensitivity and morality in the future, but asking him to step down as Majority leader? That is far too extreme.