ELIZABETHTOWN, PA — GOP operatives again fell on their noses
trying to be more PC than the Democrats.
Their war on Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid for saying in private
that President Obama was well positioned in 2008 because he is “a
light-skinned African American with no Negro dialect unless he wanted
to have one” turned into something truly tasteless. Although
Reid apologized to the President for his “poor choice of words,” there
was nothing outrageous in what he said, particularly in a private conversation.
I heard quite a few observations similar to Reid’s from my impeccably
leftist academic associates during the presidential campaign. Despite
his left-leaning position as a senator, lots of Americans, I was told,
would vote for candidate Obama because he seemed like a non-threatening
black. White voters would feel good about themselves if they had the
chance to vote for such a pleasant-sounding minority candidate.
I have no idea why anyone but a PC exhibitionist who is straining
hard to win minority votes could take offense at Reid’s remarks.
Black spokesmen such as Al Sharpton and Congressman Charles Rangel,
who are known to scream racism at the drop of a pin, seemed unfazed
by his comments. Both urged Americans to forget about this alleged
insult and to pass the health care plan. Admittedly, such figures are
highly partisan Democrats, but I have to agree with them about the
silliness of the GOP’s reaction to Reid’s comment to personal
Now we have Republican Senators John Cornyn of Texas and Republican
National Committee Chairman Michael Steele demanding that Reid step
down as Senate majority leader because, in Cornyn’s words, he
had made remarks that were “embarrassing and racially insensitive.” Liz
Cheney, daughter of the former vice-president, has been on television
deploring Reid’s reference to “skin color.”
Meanwhile, Steele, who has been popping up on Fox News since the story
surfaced, cannot contain his rage that “Democrats feel they can
say these things and they can apologize when it comes from mouths of
their own.” Steele’s apparent indignation may explain his
verbal ineptitude as a critic of Reid. Unfortunately for this black
Republican chairman, most other blacks do not seem to care about the
senator’s remarks. It is the GOP, which is fuming over Democratic
insensitivity to American blacks, that the overwhelming majority of
black voters reject.
We are reminded that in 2002 Republican leaders pressured then-Senate
majority leader Trent Lott of Mississippi to step down, after Lott
had praised the presidential campaign of longtime South Carolina Senator
Strom Thurmond at Thurmond’s 100th birthday party. When Thurmond
had run for the presidency back in 1948, he had been a Dixiecrat opposed
to racial integration. Although there was nothing in Lott’s remarks
to suggest that he approved of segregation, and although there was
nothing in Thurmond’s career for decades to suggest that he was
still a segregationist (many of his voters from the 1970s on were black),
Lott was seen to have crossed the line by flattering the centenarian
Thurmond. He therefore had to go as Senate majority leader. This decision
was reached after neoconservative columnists had gone after Lott for
ignoring “the most important event,” at least in Charles
Krauthammer’s life, “the civil rights revolution” (Washington
Post syndicated column, December 2, 2002).
The GOP was acting on its own when it humiliated Lott. It could have
well abstained from playing the PC card and left the Mississippi senator
in his place. That it chose to act differently was its own decision;
certainly it was not a decision that it increased its share of the
black vote since 2002. Thurmond, the man whom Lott was humoring, won
a far higher percentage of the black vote in South Carolina than the
supersensitive GOP has managed to pick up just about anywhere for the
last decade. But then Thurmond traded in favors, not in raising the
What the GOP is doing will have dire consequences beyond the richly
deserved fate of making the party look foolish. It will stifle the
freedom to engage in honest political discussion, an activity that
the attack on Reid and before that on Lott is going to make more difficult.
As the “sensitivity” net widens and unauthorized questions
about race, gender, and lifestyle are put outside the limits of “sensitive” dialogue,
we will suffer as an already diminished free society.
While there is plenty of blame to go around for this situation, the
GOP in its desperate hunger for minority votes has done its part. As
a right-of-center party, which it sometimes claims to be, it should
be fighting for economic freedom, distributed governing powers, and
an end to the war against discrimination, understood as making us speak
like graduates of a multicultural indoctrination session. The GOP has
moved out in front as an advocate of leftwing thought and speech control
— and the campaign against Reid illustrates this.
The Ornery Observer archives
The Ornery Observer is copyright © 2010
by Paul Gottfried and the Fitzgerald Griffin Foundation. All
rights reserved. A version of this column was originally published
Copyright © 2010 by LewRockwell.com. Reprinted with permission.
Paul Gottfried, Ph.D., is the Raffensperger professor of Humanities
at Elizabethtown College in Pennsylvania.
See a complete
bio and other articles
To sponsor the FGF E-Package:
please send a tax-deductible donation to the
Fitzgerald Griffin Foundation
P.O. Box 1383
or sponsor online.