Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Editorial: Was Read’s Gaffe Racist?

Tom122007 I trust that you all know by now what I think about the Nevada Leg Hound, Harry Reid.  I’d like him to dildo his own nether regions with a saguaro cactus, native to his state.  Why?  There is not a GOP or DINO leg in the Senate that Harry hasn’t humped in the process of caving-in to our detriment.

The media and the blogosphere are awash with accusations and claims that Reid should step down, and the Republicans are comparing Reid to Lott.  I suppose it’s time for me to weigh in on this.

I’d like to establish my own creds on racism, as a point of reference.  My father was an equal-opportunity bigot.  He hated all minorities, but especially blacks.  By the time I was nine or ten years old, I knew that black people were shiftless, unsanitary, lazy, and untrustworthy.  Back then, I was diving for mussels in the bay, came up under a boat, hit my head and knocked myself out cold.  A young black boy (meaning about my age) saved my life.  After talking with him for awhile, he did not seem at all like my father’s description.  I wanted to be his friend, so I took him home to meet my family.  We walked into the living room, and I blurted out what he had done.  My father got red in the face and screamed, “Get that little nigger out of my home!”  I was so ashamed that, in my heart, I became an activist that very day.  By the time I was 18, I had made three trips to the south during vacations to protest for civil rights.  I faced down police dogs and fire hoses.  I escaped serious injury, only because black people there protected me.  When Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “I have a dream!”, I was there.  I dropped out of college after two terms to become a full time activist against the war in Vietnam and for Civil Rights.  I worked primarily through SDS, before the weather faction took over.  I liaised with other groups to coordinate our efforts, so I was well acquainted with such luminaries as Roy Innis of CORE and Stokely Carmichael of SNCC.  As a member of the national steering committee for MLK’s Vietnam Summer, I attended several meetings with Dr. King.

Keeping this in mind, on the previous incarnation of this blog, I wrote that I was hesitant to support Barack Obama for the Democratic nomination for president, because I doubted that a black man could be elected in this nation.  That was not a racist remark on my part.  My creds prove that.  It was an honest expression of concern about the level of racism that remains in our nation.  I voted for Obama in the Primary and in the General, and am pleased to admit that I was wrong.

Harry Reid’s ‘light skinned’ and ‘negro dialect’ statement was surely ill conceived, but just like me, Reid has the creds to prove that he is no racist.  Comparing him to Lott is absurd.  Lott said he wished Strom Thurmond had been elected President.  Thurmond ran as a Dixiecrat (1948) and an Independent (1960) on a platform of segregation.  An avowed racist, Thurmond switched to the GOP and led the GOP filibuster against the Voting Rights Act.  Reid, on the other hand has been a strong supporter of every piece of civil rights legislation during his career.  When Reid made this statement, he was probably thinking out loud.  Hw was considering factors he thought would make Obama less vulnerable to our nation’s remaining racism.

There is evidence to support his concern.  According to a National Academy of Sciences study:

…People tend to view members of their own political group more positively than members of a competing political group. In this article, we demonstrate that political partisanship influences people's visual representations of a biracial political candidate's skin tone. In three studies, participants rated the representativeness of photographs of a hypothetical (Study 1) or real (Barack Obama; Studies 2 and 3) biracial political candidate. Unbeknownst to participants, some of the photographs had been altered to make the candidate's skin tone either lighter or darker than it was in the original photograph. Participants whose partisanship matched that of the candidate they were evaluating consistently rated the lightened photographs as more representative of the candidate than the darkened photographs, whereas participants whose partisanship did not match that of the candidate showed the opposite pattern. For evaluations of Barack Obama, the extent to which people rated lightened photographs as representative of him was positively correlated with their stated voting intentions and reported voting behavior in the 2008 Presidential election...

Furthermore, if this were not a concern, why did a staffer in the Clinton camp edit debate video used in a Clinton campaign ad to make Obama appear darker than he is, if not to play on American racism?  Reid was doing nothing more than analyzing the nation’s political climate.

So, should Reid step down?  No!  The only reason the GOP is after him over this is to derail health care legislation.  After all, isn’t this GOP sanctimony over the sensitivities of African Americans the moral equivalent of hypothetical protestations from Israel that someone is mistreating Palestinians?


the walking man said...

Should Reid step aside? Yes...but not over this bullshit. My question is did the reporters who wrote the book that brought this comment to light what was their source? Did Harry talk to them or did they get it third or fourth hand.

Either way...Harry get's points for not trying to duck the damn non issue.

Holte Ender said...

I was not a supporter of Reid until the GOP wanted him out over this issue, white folks have a habit of saying insensitive things from time to time and not just about African-Americans, but about each other, and Reid is no exception. Now Trent Lott is a different story.

If Reid does step down the GOP will take credit for his demise, so if he does decide to "spend more time with his family" I hope it is down the road a few months, when all this crap has died down.

Reid should go for other reasons.

Gwendolyn H. Barry said...

Impressive past, TC... you have certainly been around! I agree with your editorial reasons for Reid to not step down, while I think he should for all the other political failings he has amassed. The GOP, as usual, is doing what it can to deflect its' own failings. GAD! Great post!!!

Mycue23 said...

Extremely well said. I can't even imagine what the civil rights struggle was like, but I can only say thank you for fighting the good fight and keep up the good work, my friend.

Stimpson said...

Very thoughtful, well written post, Tom.

Reid was remarking on the electability of a candidate. The sad fact is, as you point out, that superficial things affect electability. Reid knows that, and Repubs know that too. The difference is that Repubs aren't honest enough to acknowledge that in this instance.

TomCat said...

Mark, I do not know their source, but they have a rep for first hand sourcing. Reid admits it. I think he should retire, at the end of this term, because he has not been an effective Majority leader, and because he is so unpopular at home that all three Repuglicans vying for his seat were ahead of him in the polls even before this issue came up.

Amen, Holte. Please see my reply to Mark.

Thanks, Gwen. I said I was an activist. :-) I agree.

MyCue, thanks so much. It was something that needed doing, and like most young folks, I thought I was bullet proof. Getting beaten up by police and guard just came with the territory.

or in any other instance, Stimpson. I agree.

Lisa G. said...

I agree with everyone here - Reid should step down, but not over this. Like the Repubs have never said anything racist...pluuuhhheeeaasse.

My dad was an equal opportunity bigot as well - but he preferred the term "jungle bunnies" for blacks. Glad he's dead.

TomCat said...

Mine preferred the N word.

MadMike said...

TC writes:

"I trust that you all know by now what I think about the Nevada Leg Hound, Harry Reid. I’d like him to dildo his own nether regions with a saguaro cactus, native to his state."


Oh and great post TC and I agree.

TomCat said...

Thanks Mike. I was hoping someone would enjoy that. :-)

Jolly Roger said...

As I noted, I want him to resign-but I want him gone for being a spineless Rushpubliscum water carrier, not for this. This is BS.

ivan said...

Ah, strike a blow for freedom!

I too, shoot my mouth off and was, and am, probably, disgusting.

But, a barroom poem:

Sticks and stones will break my bones
But whips and chain excite me.

(I should look out for the Party Whip? be careful in what I say in the House? In canada parliamentarians, like movie stars, have total licence to say what they want to say, at least by Constitution--if anybody can find a Constituion for Canada, couc hed in standard legal form and practiacally nonexistent).
Making mountains out of molehills.
...So Biden should be fired? Reid?
No. And Mr. Obama is cool enough to let it all roll off his back.

Hugh Jee From Jersey said...

I'm no fan of Harry Reid....but to be fair and honest, if he was quoted accurately, Reid probably repeated what most Americans said at millions of kitchen tables across the country. And to deny that would be disingenuous.

Having said that, seeing Republicans asking for his head is hypocrisy blasted into the stratosphere- the same guys smile and wink at birthers and teabaggers and any other mutant wingnut groups out there, and they want Ole Harry's ass.


Oso said...

very well reasoned post.Establishing your credentials leaves no doubt as to the credibility of your analysis.
I echo the thoughts of so many others-the Leg Hound needs to go but not cause he spoke the truth for once in his rotten life.

Lisa G,
I'm sorry you had to endure that.

Lisa G. said...

Oh, that was one of his better qualities - he was also an alcoholic, a wife beater, child abuser, punched his own elderly father in the face, etc. Glad I only had to see him on the weekends.

But thank you - I'd like to think that what doesn't kill you makes you stronger. I learned from a young age how to call the police. I had him arrested more than 10 times. Yep, it was quite entertaining being around ole Walter. Certainly kept you on your toes!

SJ said...

@The Walking Man,
"but not over this bullshit."
-exactly. Exactly.

@Hugh Jee,
"Reid probably repeated what most Americans said at millions of kitchen tables across the country. And to deny that would be disingenuous."
-Also true and on point.

TomCat said...

Just like me, JR. Great minds.

You're right Ivan. Obama doesn't lose his cool.

Just as I said, Hugh. :-)

Oso, his time will come. Just not this time.

Lise, I'm sorry about your childhood. Mine was a nightmare that messed me up badly, but I'm proud to be the person I became, once I finally found myself.

Thanks, SJ.