It is puzzling why there is such a public outrage and shock when another politician or public figure, usually a White male, makes disparagingly hurtful or insensitive racial remarks. Nevada Senator Harry Reid, leader of the US Senate made reference to then Presidential candidate Barack Obama's skin complexion and the way he talked (dialect) as being something of a viable asset which separates him from the stereotypical Black man; making him more appealing to White voters. Vice-President Joe Biden said a very similar comment about candidate Barack Obama during the presidential debates, too. Even former President Bill Clinton, the reputed 'First Black President' (according to him), mentioned essentially the same thing. What is so interesting is that all of these men think what they said was intended to be a compliment and should not be viewed as anything else but the highest form of
Barack Obama is nothing 'special' among the many men of color who have ever lived in America, but rather just another link in the long chain of distinguishable Black men who have contributed to this country's greatness. The implication that someone is not a shuckin' and jivin' slick Willie, a rappin' and rhyming Ambulance chaser, or a Preacher, is insulting and ignores the very fact about the diversity, changeableness, depth, potential, and wealth of knowledge that exists within the African-American community. As expected, President Obama accepted Sen. Reid's apology and mentioned that the effort to pressure the Senator to resign is much ado about nothing; but what else was Barack Obama supposed to say or do? Now what one says in public and how one feels or reacts and discusses in private conversations with family, friends, and confidants is an altogether different matter.
Not to miss an opportunity, the GOP led by African-American Shelby Steele, Chairman of the RNC denounced the statement by Sen. Reid as well as the apology and accuse the Democrats of wanting to have it both ways because of the political firestorm that was set off when then Majority Leader of the Senate Trent Lott's comment about the country being better off if Segregationist Senator, the late Strom Thurmond had been elected President in 1948. With the Democrats wanting to hang onto their slim majority in the Senate, the Black Congressional Congress still supports Senator Reed based upon his past position on Civil Rights, which based on this revelation, makes one wonder if his votes on that legislation was because of his deep conviction for equality and justice or rather because of political expediency and advantage. With two Democratic Senators, including Chris Dodd of Connecticut not seeking to run again during the mid-term elections because they won't win, the Republicans could shift the balance of power in the Senate back to their advantage.
So, are the words by Senator Reid inexcusable and should he resign from the Senate because of this statement he made back in 2008? There are certainly more important things to discuss but at least it was a break from hearing about how many women golfer Tiger Woods slept with. As far as Senator Reed, only the electorate in Nevada can decide his fate, and with a still sluggish economy, record numbers of unemployed workers (around 15% overall nationally), Iraq and Afghanistan, Healthcare, Airport security, affordable housing, job creation, Retirement/Pension benefits, Social Security, the Budget Deficit, Medicare/Medicaid, the devaluating Dollar, and the difficulty securing new bank loans, this brouhaha with Senator Reid will pass away like the morning dew on the blades of grass when the sun arises.
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January 12, 2010
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