I'm sure you've all heard about Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's really stupid comment from those book excerpts that are floating around. He apparently said that people would support Barack Obama for President because he was a "light skinned" African American who didn't have a "Negro dialect unless he wanted to have one." Now, don't get me wrong, that was, in hindsight, kind of a stupid thing to say for someone who lives his life in the spotlight as the U.S.'s most visible senator. But racism? I don't see it. What I do see is a lot of Republican spin.
I was floored by the Republican Party's response. Sensing weakness, Republican leaders have decided to try and take Reid down. I find it amazing that Republicans and TeaBaggers are apparently allowed to say anything they'd like about our President, including calling him a Communist and saying that he hates America. (Listen to the story on NPR). Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC) even loudly called Obama a "liar" during his State of the Union speech. Apparently the standards applied to Reid don't apply to Republicans, who have suddenly become self-proclaimed guardians of racial sensitivity in this county.
Michael Steele couldn't help himself and engaged in some righteous indignation, stating that Reid should step down as majority leader because of his remarks.
Really, Michael Steele? Pot, I'd like you to meet kettle.*
I frequently refer to Michael Steele as the "gift that keeps on giving" to the Democratic Party. I look forward to his public statements on a daily basis. Every day seems to bring new treasure caused by the vomitus of the mouth Steele seems to have.
How can anyone forget that Steele recently said, "Our platform is one of the best political documents that's been written in the last 25 years. Honest injun on that?" Steele also famously indicated that he would reach out to black voters by offering them fried chicken and potato salad.
I think that Steele's "honest injun" comment was extremely insensitive. It's akin to stating that you "got gypped" or that someone "jewed you down" in price. So Michael Steele should definitely tone down the anti-Harry Reid rhetoric before that one bites him in the ass. Despite Steele's inability to self-censor, however, I don't think that his fried chicken comment was racism or some sort of self-loathing. Steele was using a stereotype about black people to a largely black audience to get a laugh. He meant it in a, "You know, those crazy white people think we just eat fried chicken. Ha ha," kind of way. It wasn't racism.
What Harry Reid said wasn't racist either.
My friend Gunfighter has a great post over on his blog today about the whole debacle. Go read it. In his post, GF wrote this:
What I can tell you with all of the certainty that I can muster, is that Harry Reid's recent comments described above, don't prove that he is a racist. Indeed, his statement proves that despite the unpleasant things I just said about him, Harry Reid knows a little something about the American political process and the pulse of the American electorate.
I think Gunfighter is right on the money.
People have missed an important distinction here. If Harry
Reid had said that *he* would vote for Obama because he was light
skinned and didn't speak with a Negro accent, that would be a racist remark.
Simply stating an opinion that other people would vote for Obama
because of his light skin and speech patterns is not racism. It's
* I'm using this statement to make a point. Because, black, in the pot and kettle sense, does not refer to race. But I'm sure a good Republican strategist could have the FNC crowd frothing at the mouth over it in no time at all.