WHEN Gov. Nikki Haley of South Carolina announced on Monday that she would name Representative Tim Scott to the Senate, it seemed like another milestone for African-Americans. Mr. Scott will complete the term of Senator Jim DeMint, who is leaving to run Heritage Foundation. He will be the first black senator from the South since Reconstruction; the first black Republican senator since 1979, when Edward W. Brooke of Massachusetts retired; and, indeed, only the seventh African-American ever to serve in the chamber.
But this “first black” rhetoric tends to interpret African-American political successes — including that of President Obama — as part of a morality play that dramatizes “how far we have come.” It obscures the fact that modern black Republicans have been more tokens than signs of progress.
The cheerleading over racial symbolism plays to the Republicans’ desperate need to woo (or at least appear to woo) minority voters, who favored Mr. Obama over Mitt Romney by huge margins. Mrs. Haley — a daughter of Sikh immigrants from Punjab, India — is the first female and first nonwhite governor of South Carolina, the home to white supremacists like John C. Calhoun, Preston S. Brooks, Ben Tillman and Strom Thurmond.
Mr. Scott’s background is also striking: raised by a poor single mother, he defeated, with Tea Party backing, two white men in a 2010 Republican primary: a son of Thurmond and a son of former Gov. Carroll A. Campbell Jr. But his politics, like those of the archconservative Supreme Court justice Clarence Thomas, are utterly at odds with the preferences of most black Americans. Mr. Scott has been staunchly anti-tax, anti-union and anti-abortion.
Even if the Republicans managed to distance themselves from the thinly veiled racism of the Tea Party adherents who have moved the party rightward, they wouldn’t do much better among black voters than they do now. I suspect that appointments like Mr. Scott’s are directed less at blacks — whom they know they aren’t going to win in any significant numbers — than at whites who are inclined to vote Republican but don’t want to have to think of themselves, or be thought of by others, as racist.
Just as white Southern Democrats once used cynical manipulations — poll taxes, grandfather clauses, literacy tests — to get around the 15th Amendment, so modern-day Republicans have deployed blacks to undermine black interests, as when President Ronald Reagan named Samuel R. Pierce Jr. to weaken the Department of Housing and Urban Development, Clarence M. Pendleton to enfeeble the Commission on Civil Rights and Clarence Thomas to enervate the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
Disturbingly enough, the writer of this piece, Adolph L. Reed Jr., is a poli-sci prof at the University of Pennsylvania. I shudder to think what he teaches his students. For one thing, black Americans are probably more anti-abortion than white-Americans. And they’re also more pro-traditional marriage than white Americans, too. This guy and the facts clearly aren’t acquainted very well.
But why let such things like the facts get in the way of a good old fashioned untruthful race-baiting rant?
Interestingly enough, his own column is at odds with itself when you look at the actual facts. He says the GOP has made “no real progress” on race, yet Scott was elected and re-elected to the US Congress in a majority WHITE Congressional district in SC (same same for Allen West two years ago), and Gov. Haley, a woman of Indian descent, was elected in a state where whites (and men) are still the majority. This in spite of the fact that she had to deal with disgusting racial politics by old-guard extremists in her own party during the primary. These were not APPOINTMENTS – they were ELECTIONS. Did those ‘racist’ majorities elect “minorities” like Scott and Haley to soothe their racial consciences or did they vote based on ability? I mean, if we’re supposed to believe Reed, if you’re a white person voting for a black Democrat, you’re not a racist voting out of a strong sense of white guilt, so doesn’t it stand to reason if you’re a white person and you vote for a black Republican, you’re not a racist voting out of a sense of white guilt, either – or is Reed showing a double standard here when it comes to voting for black people? (rhetorical questions, of course)
What I find most sickening about Reed’s column is his assumption that white Republicans use black Republicans to “undermine black interests” – as if 1) black Republicans can’t think and act for themselves, and 2) as if “black interests” are carved in stone with no variation. Well, they might be to narrow-minded racial bigots like Reed, but there are actually a lot of black people out there who DO think outside of the box and have concluded that liberal policies have been bad for America – not just bad for black people, but bad for all Americans. Then again, black people who don’t toe the liberal line do what great leaders like MLK encouraged them to do and that is think for themselves and to judge people based on the content of their character not their race. How dare they!?
Let’s also use Reed’s same “logic” regarding black people supposedly needing to vote based on “black interests” and apply it to white people, say, in the 1800s. Back then, would he have advocated whites needing to vote based on “white interests” which, at the time, were wrapped around being able to own and keep slaves on their plantations so they could make money and live comfortable, fancy lifestyles? Probably not, because in that case, voting based on “white interests” disenfranchised a whole race of people, and did a severe disservice to this nation’s guiding principle that all men were created equal.
With that in mind, you’d think a professor like Reed would understand why black conservatives have chosen a different path and have decided that group-think is not just dangerous for the black community but for their other fellow citizens as well. But Reed, like so many other elite liberal professors, has it ingrained in his brain that there’s simply no way in hell that a black American would want to be anything other than a liberal Democrat because Democrats “help” black people. Those who defy that mold are instantly cast in the Uncle Tom role by closed-minded “intellectuals” like Reed and others who are disgraces to their profession by implying that having a mind of your own rather than marching to the same old tired “victim” drum is a bad thing.
I weep for the future of America, if this willfully ignorant “educator” and others like him continue to get by with spewing this garbage.