This is the modern shape of racism. It’s subtle, but it runs deep. Instead of donning white sheets and stomping down our streets, racists propagate their beliefs nowadays with snide remarks, insensitivity and a shocking inability to imagine what it must be like to be a different race. It is simply unacceptable for our elected leaders — the faceplates of our democracy — to perpetuate these racist stereotypes.
So where is the outrage over Reid’s racist slurs? Where are the calls for Reid to quit his leadership post? Certainly Reid’s remarks are just as contemptible as those made by former Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.), who was forced to resign his post in 2002 for implying that America was a better country during the days of Sen. Strom Thurmond (R-S.C.), a known segregationist in the ’40s. It did not matter that Lott offered a heartfelt apology four days later. By that time, the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), the liberal media and yours truly had already leapt into action, demanding Lott’s ouster on the grounds that his racially insensitive remarks proved that he just didn’t get it — that he had no ability to truly empathize with what it means to be a minority in this country. And they were right.
So where are the CBC and liberal media — our supposed racial torchbearers in the dark — when a Democrat says something racist? Apparently, they’re all too willing to accept Reid’s apology, even though it comes one year after the fact. As CBC Chairwoman Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) said in a written statement this week: "There are too many issues like the economy, job creation and energy for these regrettable comments to distract us from the work that must be done on behalf of the American people." Writing for TheHill.com, commentator Brent Budowsky was even more succinct: “Yes, [Reid’s] words were wrong. Apology needed. Apology given. Apology accepted.”
Clearly, there is a double standard. When a Democrat makes a racially insensitive remark, the party, a collection of sympathetic commentators and the CBC easily accept his apology — no matter how belated — and move on. When Republicans do the same, they lose their jobs.
We can all agree that racist slurs are always inappropriate. So let’s end the double standard in how we treat them. A good place to start would be with demanding that Reid step down as Senate majority leader, the same that was asked of Lott at the time.
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