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Monday, January 11, 2010
No Double Standard on Reid/Lott Comments
Senate Democratic Majority Leader Harry has come under fire because of reports in the new book Game Change that disclosed that Reid made some unfortunate comments about then-candidate Barack Obama being lighted-skinned and not having a "Negro dialect."
Not surprisingly, the usual suspects are comparing Reid's comments to the 2002 comments of then Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-Miss) who stepped down because he said that had Strom Thurmond been successful in his 1948 presidential bid on the Dixiecrat ticket, "we wouldn't have had all these problems over the years, either." They are claiming that there is a double standard regarding the two comments and have called for Reid to step down from his post.
This is sophistry. Regarding the claim of a double standard regarding press coverage, it is too easily forgotten that Lott said his comments at Thurmond's birthday party and it was covered by the press who ignored the comments. it wasn't until progressive bloggers forced the DC press corps to cover the comments that other revelations emerged. For instance, the coverage of comments allowed critics to publicize Lott's associations with the white supremacist group, the Council of Conservative Citizens, the modern incarnation of the old White Citizens Councils (on Sean Hannity's radio program, Lott unconvincingly claimed that his associations with the group were tenuous--I reported on this is 2002) The coverage also allowed critics to point out Lott's praise for the old confederacy such as Lott approvingly saying that "[t]he spirit of Jefferson Davis lives in the 1984 Republican platform"). Also, Lott longtime opposition to civil rights was highlighted (such as his opposition to the extension of the Voting Rights Act. As Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting pointed out, the media were largely playing catch-up regarding Lott's abysmal views and actions on civil rights and race relations. On the other hand, Reid has had an excellent record on civil rights and has been a strong advocate of racial equality.
Let's look at some of the people and groups coming out against Reid. Last night, Ann Coulter strongly denouncing Reid's comments. Coulter has been a strong defender of the Confederate battle flag and an apologist for the Council of Conservative Citizens. This morning, the radio program for the Washington Times was highly critical of Reid; this despite the fact that the Times has been the home to many virulent racists and white supremacists (also, watch my video on Moon that addresses the Times and white supremacy). These are the people who are trying to speak on racial equality?.