Yesterday on a televised appearance on Fox News, District of Columbia congressional delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton gave an incredibly informative performance on the questions of race, racism and ideology surrounding the controversy over Harry Reid’s “negro dialect” remarks.
Holmes Norton’s basic point was that Reid won’t be damaged in the black community for having made the racially-charged remarks he made, because Reid has “earned” the right to apologize and move on by having a lifetime rating of “A” for his legislative record by the NAACP, because Reid has worked to block judicial nominees of Republican presidents who would “roll back our rights” and because he has worked a “legislative miracle” in getting Obamacare – which Holmes Norton identified as the major issue in the black community – through the Senate.
She also said that those who would like to capitalize on Reid’s remarks should “be forewarned – you will not find open arms within the black community.” This could be interpreted as a shot across the bow of RNC chair Michael Steele, who Sunday suggested Reid resign since Republican Senate majority Leader Trent Lott had to go in an analogous situation in 2002.
This is great stuff.
In other words, Reid or any other leftist politician can say whatever they want regarding race so long as they promote redistribution of wealth and affirmative action. That is what’s defined as “earning” a chance to apologize for racially-insensitive remarks like the ones Reid is accused of making, and, according to Holmes Norton, that’s why Reid can skate on what he said while Trent Lott was buried eight years ago.
It should be noted that what Reid said wasn’t necessarily racist per se, though the point of view illustrated by his remarks is no less offensive. Reid, in promoting Barack Obama’s candidacy, said he was electable because he is “light-skinned” and not possessed of a “negro dialect” unless he wants to turn one on. Reid made these points not as reasons why Obama was acceptable to his individual tastes, but to describe why the racists and rubes in the general public would find him palatable. In other words, Reid’s statements weren’t racist, they were bigoted against white America, which overlooked a sea of red flags on Obama’s resume and associations in voting him into office in 2008 – either proving Reid correct that Obama’s light skin and erudite diction made him acceptable or proving him wrong in that the American people are nowhere near as racist as the Nevada senator makes us out to be.
Back to Holmes Norton, who, asked about the comparison between Reid’s statements and those of Lott – whose trouble began when he made comments at Strom Thurmond’s 100th birthday party that had Thurmond, who ran as an independent segregationist/state’s rights candidate for president in 1948, been elected “we wouldn’t be having some of the problems we’ve had” – first insinuated that Lott’s comments were unforgivable and far worse than Reid’s, then touted Reid’s record while stating that Lott “had the opposite of a record” for having been, I presume, a racist vote in the Senate. Pressed on the issue by the interviewer, who asked whether she’d be saying the same thing had Reid been a Republican instead of a Democrat, Holmes Norton had this to say:
“I admit that had he been a Republican he probably would not have views and votes and leadership acceptable to the African-American community, then he might be vulnerable.”
Two things on this. First, it could be argued, and perhaps should have been, that Lott’s gaffe in trying to say something nice about an old man on his 100th birthday was a missed opportunity to make a real point about a legitimate question; namely, the role of the federal government in American political life vis-a-vis that of the states. The fact that the states’ rights movement was tainted by racism and segregation doesn’t invalidate the fact the federal government has grown far beyond the role originally envisioned by our Founding Fathers, with negative effects on individual liberty and the runaway excesses in federal spending as negative consequences. Maybe Lott could have made that point and steered the discussion in that direction, and maybe he would have survived the controversy instead of compounding the gaffe with even dumber statements on his way to becoming a million-dollar lobbyist instead of Senate Majority Leader. I don’t believe Lott even considered the federalism issue when he made his remarks about Thurmond; he was just trying to say something nice to an old codger in his dotage and got carried away, but that indicates the level of strategic thinking and philosophical heft the Mississippian brought to the table.
And second, thanks to Holmes Norton we now know that Democrat politicians who purport to speak for the “black community” are actually speaking for Democrat politicians and taking the black community for granted. Holmes Norton’s itemization of Obamacare as an issue of prime importance to Black America is a comic example; with African-American unemployment topping 20 percent, with more black males going to prison than college, with black-on-black crime rampant in cities like New Orleans, Detroit and her own city of Washington, DC, it’s a difficult case to make that a federal requirement that citizens purchase private health insurance or the elimination of Medicare Advantage represent the fervent will of the “black community.” It takes a supreme arrogance and disregard for one’s constituents to make such a statement.
But if so, Holmes Norton might be excused for her imperious disregard for “her people.” After all, despite the countless examples of politicians like her touting redistribution of wealth, class warfare and set-asides cheapening the achievements of those in the black community who have proven their worth through individual merit, blacks continue to vote Democrat better than 90 percent of the time. It may be wrong for the Left to take Black America for granted, but until they are punished for doing so Holmes Norton and her ideological compatriots will employ every double standard and hypocrisy they please.