Casualty of Capitalism

Exiled into Wilmington, Delaware by virtue of corporate layoffs. (Note: Unless otherwise stated, all photos on this blog are Copyright 2005, Michael Collins, and cannot be used without permission.)

Location: Wilmington, Delaware, United States

Graduate of University of Maryland School of Law; University of Maryland, College Park (Economics/Political Science).

Monday, December 06, 2004

Not Racism, But Party Betrayal

James Taranto calls the new Senate Minority Leader a racist:

Monday, December 6, 2004 2:42 p.m. EST
Can Harry Read?

For no apparent reason, Sen. Harry Reid of Nevada, the Democrats' new leader, is denouncing Justice Clarence Thomas. Here's an exchange from Tim Russert's interview with him on "Meet the Press" yesterday:

Russert: Let me turn to judicial nominations. Again, Harry Reid on National Public Radio, Nov. 19: "If they"--the Bush White House--"for example, gave us Clarence Thomas as chief justice, I personally feel that would be wrong. If they give us Antonin Scalia, that's a little different question. I may not agree with some of his opinions, but I agree with the brilliance of his mind."Could you support Antonin Scalia to be chief justice of the Supreme Court?

Reid: If he can overcome the ethics problems that have arisen since he was selected as a justice of the Supreme Court. And those ethics problems--you've talked about them; every people talk--every reporter's talked about them in town--where he took trips that were probably not in keeping with the code of judicial ethics. So we have to get over this. I cannot dispute the fact, as I have said, that this is one smart guy. And I disagree with many of the results that he arrives at, but his reason for arriving at those results are very hard to dispute. So--

Russert: Why couldn't you accept Clarence Thomas?

Reid: I think that he has been an embarrassment to the Supreme Court. I think that his opinions are poorly written. I don't--I just don't think that he's done a good job as a Supreme Court justice.

Now, we haven't read Thomas's entire oeuvre, but we've read quite a few of his opinions, and we wouldn't describe any of them as "poorly written"--much less so poorly written as to make him "an embarrassment to the Supreme Court." (One of our favorite opinions of recent years is Thomas's dissent in Grutter v. Bollinger, the 2003 case upholding racial preferences in college admissions provided they're vague enough.)

It's a shame Russert didn't press Reid to name some Thomas opinions he considers to be poorly
written. In the absence of such examples, one can't help but suspect that the new Senate Democratic leader is simply stereotyping Thomas as unintelligent because he is black.

I don't think it's racism in the sense that Reid feels Thomas is unintelligent, as much as it is that Clarence Thomas betrayed liberals and the Democratic party by being a black conservative. Reid, the new face of partisan Democrats in the Senate, refers to Thomas as an "embarassment" in the same way the sour grape voters for John Kerry have been calling 63 million George Bush voters stupid rednecks and ignorant evangelists. Since Reid cannot explain how a black man could possibly abandon the party and not write opnions consistent with Thurgood Marshall's points of view, he reverts to the tried and true method of belittling his opponent rather than engaging in constructive criticism.

There is a subtle racism in the mindset that intelligent blacks cannot possibly lean conservative, regardless of the fact that their liberal leaning so-called leaders are as much to blame for much of the disparity between blacks and whites in 2004 as the low-level prejudice that still exists in some corners today. The black community needs leadership, and it needs role models. That the Democratic leadership in the form of the Congressional Black Caucus and the NAACP continues to belittle successful Republicans such as Condoleezza Rice, Colin Powell, and Clarence Thomas as "traitors" or "embarassments" shows as much racism against themselves as any major Republican leader has shown in the past few years.

The Republican party is on the rise, and black Americans should feel free to join it. Ostracism for joining the party with the most attractive, and very likely most ascendant ideas will only leave blacks even further behind. Unfortunately, this constituency is a successful voting bloc for the Democrats and it is in their interest to keep them down and blame Republicans. When black Americans are allowed to freely join Republican ranks without fear of (at the very least psychological) reprisal I think we will finally see the benefit of the Civil Rights movement, one in which all Americans are equal. There is much to be said for an active black presence in the Republican ranks, and first and foremost is the competition for black votes it will ensure between the parties. As long as blacks are pandered to (and lately unsuccessfully) by a single party rather than challenged, there will be no incentive to hear their voice.


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