After Clarence Thomas sided with the majority opinion in the Supreme Court over affirmative action, many voices in the black community called him an “Uncle Tom.” Included in that number were Mississippi Democrat Bennie Thompson. CNN’s Dana Bash caught up with him for an interview concerning his remarks, which were considered racist, and his response was indicative of the double standard over racist remarks that prevails in this country:
Bash: When you said Clarence Thomas was an “Uncle Tom,” what did you mean by that?
Thompson: Well if you look at his decisions on the court, they have been adverse to the minority community, and the people I represent have a real issue with an African American not being sensible to those issues.
Bash: Isn’t that a racially charged term?
Thompson: For some it is, but to others it’s the truth.
Bash: Because looking at that and hearing that kind of language, that certainly wouldn’t be appropriate if it was coming from somebody who was white.
Thompson: But I’m black.
Bash: That makes it OK?
Thompson: I mean, you’re asking me the question, and I’m giving you a response. The people that I represent, for the most part, have a real issue with those decisions–voter ID, affirmative action, Affordable Care Act–all those issues are very important and for someone in the court who’s African American and not sensitive to that is a real problem.
So, it’s OK to make racist remarks as long as you’re black. That makes sense. If a white Democrat were to call Clarence Thomas an “Uncle Tom,” that would obviously be racist and out of bounds. But Rep. Thompson is black, so he can say what he wants. Because, for him, it’s just the truth.
He went on to criticize white Republicans in general for what he considered an undue amount of venom toward Obama. He implied that this opposition was based on the color of Obama’s skin, not the content of his policies.
But the fact is that it is not white Republicans who are making race the primary concern in their policies and statements. They are not necessarily considering race when they vote for or against policies. The fact is that race and “minority concerns” are most important to the very people who claim anyone who opposes their policies is racist.
And, frankly, that is racist. Literally. Race should not be important. It is racist to vote for or against legislation on the basis of race. Laws need to have general equity. They should be just and beneficial for all of the members of a community, not just one segment of that community. The opposite of racism is not ethnocentricity. Ethnocentricity is the heart of racism. If white or black Republicans vote against Obama, it is because they rightly view him as an enemy of this country. Not because he’s a black president. But because he’s a bad president.
To support him without question because he’s black is just as racist as it would be to oppose him without question because he’s black. Why is this so hard to understand?