The brilliant Jan Crawford has the single best column I have yet seen on the Harry Reid “light-skinned Negro” flap. She puts his remarks in proper context, meaning in the context of his earlier, obnoxious, apparently racist attacks a few years back on Clarence Thomas.
This is important. One reason the criticisms of Trent Lott in 2002 carried so much weight is because Lott had a long history of racially…. well, at least racially questionable statements and actions. It was in the context of a career’s worth of what at best was racial insensitivity on Lott’s part that I was one of the many conservative writers who came out, very quickly and strongly, to say that Lott should step down as majority leader. (As a lifelong native of Lott’s Gulf Coast and a writer in Mobile at the time, I was cited semi-widely at the time. I had been a longtime admirer of Lott’s at one point, so it pained me to reach the conclusion I reached, but Lott really did need to go as Leader.) Perhaps Lott could have gotten a pass for one stupid comment if he hadn’t shown a general cluelessness on racial matters for so long.
Likewise with Harry Reid. “Oh, no, Reid is no racist,” his defenders say. Of course he’s not a racist, they say, because he’s on the correct side of the issues, meaning the reflexively (but not reflectively) side of left-wing, racial bean-counting paternalism.
Bullfeathers. As Jan Crawford explains,
Thomas is one of the Court’s most original and compelling thinkers, and his opinions are praised by scholars on the Left and the Right as important contributions. You may not agree with a single word Clarence Thomas says, and it may drive you crazy that he took Thurgood Marshall’s seat on the Supreme Court, but you can’t call him stupid or deny he’s an important intellectual force.
Unless you’re Harry Reid.
In an interview with the late Tim Russert on NBC’s Meet the Press, Reid called Thomas “an embarrassment to the Supreme Court” whose “opinions are poorly written,” and said he hadn’t “done a good job” as a justice. But Antonin Scalia? Well, Reid said, he’s a different story. Scalia, Reid told Tim, “is one smart guy.”
This “grossly false storyline” is, as Crawford explains, racial stereotyping at its worst. It falls into the category of “No Negro can possibly be smart if he doesn’t think like other good Negroes.” Or, in the current case, if he has a Negro dialect.
Harry Reid, bigot, is also the Harry Reid who declared the war in Iraq “lost.” He is the same Harry Reid whose record of nastiness, small-mindedness, foot-in-mout-itis, and hypocrisy has been amply recorded in many other fora. Harry Reid, bigot, is himself an “embarrassment.” He should resign not just from his position as Leader but from the Senate itself.