“Senator Reid’s Purported Racism”


Will writes from Washington, D.C. (well, Arlington, Virginia). You can reach him at willblogcorrespondence at gmail dot com.

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31 Responses

  1. Scott says:

    Oh course it is not racist. We all know that Democrats can’t be racist, that is reserved for Republicans. My snark aside, it is quite telling that Obama wanted Trent Lott hounded out of the Republican party for his praise of Strom Thurmond but will forgive Reid.Report

    • sidereal in reply to Scott says:

      1) The Lott/Reid comparison is ridiculous and tiresome. The only thing they have in common is that they were old, white guys who said something that related to race. Thurmond stated the the country would be better off if an explicitly segregationist party won an election. Reid said something self-evident, but he used the word ‘Negro’. Not a comparison.

      2) On the other hand, Mike down below is absolutely right. If a Republican had said it, the Democrats would be going bitchcakes calling him a racist.

      3) Reid should resign for unrelated reasons, and if this is the impetus to get him out, then yay skippy.Report

      • Kyle in reply to sidereal says:

        The more I think about the Lott/Reid comparison the more I find the casual dismissal of it to be crudely self-serving or entirely specious.

        Lott never articulated anything about race. At a man’s birthday party, he was, perhaps, too effusive in his compliments to a colleague and friend.

        If I say, “oh I wish you had gotten that promotion or accepted to that school,” or any number of phrases like that, I think it’s entirely unclear if my reasoning is because I objectively think it would’ve been a better outcome, or if subjectively I’m saying something supportive to someone I like. Which all of us do and have done at some point in our lives without intending to endorse everything the counter-factual would’ve have entailed.

        All of this is to say, I think Lott’s so-called racism was weak sauce, it was a nontroversy stirred up for political gain just like what’s happening to Senator Reid.Report

        • greginak in reply to Kyle says:

          “I want to say this about my state: When Strom Thurmond ran for president, we voted for him. We’re proud of it. And if the rest of the country had followed our lead, we wouldn’t have had all these problems over all these years, either.” Trent Lott

          Strom Thrumond ran as a segregationist and TL is proud of voting for him. And which “problems” do you think would have been avoided by having a segregationist elected. I think you are being a bit charitable.Report

          • Kyle in reply to greginak says:

            You haven’t said anything I haven’t heard before in the last 7 years.

            If this were a court, your argument wouldn’t get past the “beyond a reasonable doubt” bit because it’s transparently self-serving. Now, your criticism doesn’t even address my point. To make it plainly, it could very well have been subjective, effusive praise for a friend and colleague rather than an objective analysis.

            There are any number of phrases that one could point to and ask, “well what else could they have meant by that?” I’ve never once found that to be anything more than a lack of imagination on the part of the questioner. Or less flatteringly, indicative of their lack of willingness to investigate the claim proper.

            To take your leading but ultimately circumstantial “proof” as evidence of anything negative, would require the belief that Trent Lott had secretly and – at the time – presently held pro-segregationist views that he foolishly revealed after decades of successful deception at a birthday party. Really?

            Here are some other choice quotes from Trent Lott:

            “Segregation is a stain on our nation’s soul. There’s no other way to describe it. It represents one of the lowest moments in our nation’s history, and we can never forget that.

            I grew up with segregation here in these communities, but I want to note that in these communities of Pascagoula and Moss Point, Gautier and Ocean Springs, Mississippi, we worked hard to overcome that and to bring about reconciliation and to work together.

            I grew up in an environment that condoned policies and views that we now know were wrong and immoral, and I repudiate them.

            Let me be clear: Segregation and racism are immoral.”

            That’s pretty not-racist. Unlike your quote, gregniak, is explicit rather than shrouding the alleged sentiment in a vague compliment to a friend.Report

            • I think it’s important to note that the majority of Dixiecrat senators remained in the Democratic party – so why does the GOP get slammed for taking a few of them?Report

            • greginak in reply to Kyle says:

              did i say “proof” or am i taking this to court? I still think you are being chartable to a , at the least, really stupid thing to say. I could find other stupid, questionable things Lott has said or done. I’m not sure we need to redebate whoever Lott is.Report

              • Kyle in reply to greginak says:

                What can I say, I’m a charitable guy. I also don’t like assuming, particularly the worst about someone or their statements.

                I will say, though, you bring a quote, I bring a quote. It keeps the matchups fair, don’t you think?

                Often, when people bring up a quote then a context for that quote, it’s meant to have a point. If yours was meant to show that Lott’s supposed racism was more apparent than you thought I believed, then proof is hardly an inaccurate label. If not, perhaps you should have made your point a little clearer. Perhaps it was you believe the worst about people you don’t like and cherrypick a context you’d like to establish to reinforce that view?Report

              • greginak in reply to Kyle says:

                Lott had a record of saying he supported segregation and associating with segregationist and white supremacist groups. he also opposed just about all civil rights legislation.

                I don’t think just one statement often tells us that much about a person. but i think there is other info about Lott to suggest that his fawning over Strom was not an aberration at all.Report

  2. Jaybird says:

    I hate it when white men say shit like that. It makes the rest of us look bad. For the record, not all of us are that ignorant.Report

  3. I think the wrong angle on this is to debate whether or not Reid is a racist. More than likely he is like a LOT of Americans in that he could be correctly labeled as prejudice against one person or another, but doesn’t hate an entire race/gender/religion/sexual orientation as a blanket policy. What IS the correct angle is to point out that this would not have stood for 30 seconds if we found out the comments came from a Republican.Report

  4. Bob Cheeks says:

    Reid didn’t insult blacks, he insulted the American voter. I’d vote for one of the Nav’i if he said commie-Dems were statists and should be thrown out!Report

  5. Kyle says:

    Double standards abound sure.
    Racism not so much.Report

  6. NL says:

    Thank you Bob Cheeks. I have been thinking this from the beginning. Why doesn’t anyone realize that this is the true point of the quote?

    Conservatives find it really hard to talk about race without saying dumb things about black people. As a result, they think “damn, I guess talking about race is off limits.” Then, they get steamed when Democrats talk about race and don’t get in trouble, ignoring the CONTENT of the comment. Because they can’t tell why a black person would be offended by legitimately offensive comments (ie. Trent Lott), all language related to race seems equal.

    Finally, with regard to the double standards issue, please realize that a history of working closely in a party with minorities and minority leaders means that you have personal relationships with people who will vouch for your character, and the notion that you are racist just doesn’t carry water. If, on the other hand, you belong to a party devoid of diversity… surprise! You aren’t going to get credit for good behavior when you say that the country would have been better off had Strom Thurmond been elected President.Report

  7. Bob Cheeks says:

    “Finally, with regard to the double standards issue, please realize that a history of working closely in a party with minorities and minority leaders means that you have personal relationships with people who will vouch for your character, and the notion that you are racist just doesn’t carry water.”
    Dude, you might want to check out Bubba Clinton’s remarks to the recently deceased Senator Kennedy referring to Obama the Magnificent.Report

  8. NL says:

    You’re missing my point. I said you *get* the benefit of the doubt. I didn’t say you deserve it. I think Bill’s comments, plus some others during the campaign, show that he had great black friends, respected many black people, and unfortunately carried some clear deep seated issues that came out when he got desperate. None of that changes the fact that he has worked closely with and for African Americans in a way that makes them likely to a) assume innocence, and b) forgive. Frankly, we will never know whether Bill meant serve coffee as in black man, or as in young intern. Given his history of work and relationships, most black people will choose to believe the latter. If he had given speeches to white supremacy groups, maybe they assume the former.

    I don’t think the tendency for a group to give those two benefits to an ally are rare (or improper) among any group in history. In this case, as you note, their assumption of innocence rather than assignment of guilt is the correct response.Report

    • greginak in reply to NL says:

      jeebus, anybody who tries to make anything of the alleged clinton quote deserves significant mockery. The “quote” came threw one person who heard it from another person who heard it from Kennedy who isn’t exactly around to verify it or the context.Report

      • Bob Cheeks in reply to greginak says:

        The Democrat party is and has always been racist. They’re just about it these days, that’s why Martin Luther King was a Republican.Report

        • NL in reply to Bob Cheeks says:

          This is one of my favorite race-troll argument: “You blackies have been tricked into membership in the racist party, all this time!” Aw, thanks for the tip Cheeks!

          The fact is that when issues important to my community come up, Byrd, Clinton, and anyone else you think is a democratic racist, they’re with us. The GOP is always making some principled argument why they’re again voting against us. Many republicans have evolved, but most living African Americans are old enough to remember these slights and aren’t ready to flip on the Dems. It doesn’t help that one party openly appeals to Willie Horton style race baiting on a regular basis. And it’s not a fringe element; they keep promoting the guys who earned their stripes in southern race wars (exhibit 1: Jeff Sessions). I know you’ll say that the Democratic party uses race to gain the support of minorities, but you’ll notice that they don’t do it bad enough to turn the whole white electorate against them.Report

          • Bob Cheeks in reply to NL says:

            NL, dude, if you think the commie-Dems are “for” blacks, well there’s not much to say.
            You might want to think in terms of “liberty.”
            The commie-dems use the black community, they mock black people.
            They need your issues, they tolerate you only as long as you can help them get elected.Report

          • “The fact is that when issues important to my community come up, Byrd, Clinton, and anyone else you think is a democratic racist, they’re with us.”

            I’m curious which issues you are talking about. If you are talking about stereotypical stuff like welfare and affirmative action then no, you don’t get a lot of GOP suport. If you’re talking about other issues like gay mariage (huge majority of blacks oppose) or school vouchers, it is the GOP position that best reflects the black community. What other issues are you talking about?Report

          • Scott in reply to NL says:

            Sorry, I don’t think african americans were “tricked” into supporting the Dems. Their votes were bought with social welfare spending and affirmative action.Report

            • Bob Cheeks in reply to Scott says:

              You know NL when Bubba went to Teddy to get his support for his Hillary rather than Obama the tact he used was to remind Ted that “…a few years ago this guy would be serving us coffee.”
              Clinton’s sought to disparage Obama, to get Teddy to support Hillary predicated on Obama’s RACE; not his socialist views, not his lack of experience or credentials, not his Chicago thug connections…on RACE!
              I could care less what party you belong to, but as a black man you have every reason NOT to be a Democrat.Report

  9. Bob Cheeks says:

    e.g: “They’re just (subtle) about these days….”

  10. Scott says:

    Let’s not forget Joe Biden on Obama: “I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy,” he said. “I mean, that’s a storybook, man.”Report

    • NL in reply to Scott says:

      Hello… Most middle-class African Americans understand this, and many probably agree. The whole notion of black as “other” is exacerbated by the Sharpton/Jackson/Jefferson black politician. Clean refers to untainted by scandal and dirty dealings. Those of us who are black were thrilled to see a black leader emerge who IS indeed articulate, bright and yes, clean, and nice-looking. You’ll note that the black political establishment did not embrace the guy, did not elevate him. He conquered them, from his first political race through the primary, when the black establishment went with Clinton. Yeah, Joe is a fool for saying this out load, but it is, like Reid’s statement, about the American electorate and lackluster black leadership of the past, not about Obama or black people generally.Report

  11. Bob Cheeks says:

    Also we shouldn’t forget the Grand Keegle himself, W.Va. Democrat Senator Bob Byrd…I mean you gotta love it!Report