Seven years ago, then Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott spoke at Senator Strom Thurmond's 100th birthday party. He famously said, ""When Strom Thurmond ran for president, we voted for him. We’re proud of it. And if the rest of the country had followed our lead, we wouldn't have had all these problems over the years, either." Fifteen days later he resigned as Senate Majority Leader in scandal as a result of the racist nature of his comments.
Without knowing the background to those comments, it impossible to recognize anything racist about his remark. Of course, Thurmond, "had based his presidential campaign largely on an explicit racial segregation platform," as Wikipedia states. Democrats, who already thought Lott was a racist, as they presume most Republicans are, and quickly demanded he resign his leadership position. Republicans accused Democrats of politicizing Lott's comments and ardently defended Lott.
More recently, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid was quoted in a book called Game Change. The relevant passage states: ""He [Reid] was wowed by Obama's oratorical gifts and believed that the country was ready to embrace a black presidential candidate, especially one such as Obama -- a 'light-skinned' African-American 'with no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one,' as he later put it privately."
Reid has been getting abused by Republicans concerning the quotation. Republican Party Chairman Michael Steele is quoted as saying, ""It's either racist or it's not. And it's inappropriate, absolutely. So if the standard is the one that we saw with Trent Lott as speaker -- as a leader at the time, then I think this absolutely falls in that category." You can read more concerning Steele's comments here.
The comments are hardly racist, though it is difficult to say definitely without added context. But what most concerns me is the poisonous atmosphere that the Republicans are perpetuating. Republicans cried foul over the Lott controversy, and now they are themselves demanding the same things of their political opponents. While it is obvious that there is a double-standard at play, Republicans should not continue to foster the demands of political correctness if they don't want to have to play by its rules. This is utter hypocrisy. If you demand your opponent play by the PC rule book, you too must play by it. Republicans instead should be magnanimous, but that's like asking a pig to fly.
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