For Release: January 10, 2010
Contact: David Almasi at (202) 543-4110 x11 or email [email protected]
Black Activists Respond to Reid's Racial Remarks
Washington, DC: Black conservatives with the Project 21 leadership network are speaking out about the recently-revealed racial comments about Barack Obama that were made by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) in 2008:
Mychal Massie (chairman of Project 21): "Harry Reid is a loathsome individual whose apology was based on exposure not repentance. Reid's comments are proof positive that the racial animus of the past is alive and prevalent among liberals today, notwithstanding the fact that their standard-bearer is a black man."
Robert A. George: "How nice to see that, when it comes to race in America, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has such, ahem, 'enlightenment' (pun intended). Thank goodness no jive-talkin' darky ever thought about running for president! No way Reid could have supported him!!" (This quote comes from Robert's "Ragged Thots" blog. The entire post can be seen at http://raggedthots.blogspot.com.)
Bob Parks: "The hazard of being an apologist is having your own words thrown back in your face. Obama demanded the Republicans drum Senator Trent Lott out of their party in 2002 when Lott gave inappropriate praise to centenarian and reformed segregationist senator Strom Thurmond on his birthday. The underlying problem here is that boneheaded racist statements by politicians are all too common, and only conservatives seem to get called on them and punished. Republicans did strip Lott of his leadership post. Obama is absolving the Democrats of acting against Reid. This is a dangerous trend." (More can be found on Bob's "Black and Right" web site at http://www.black-and-right.com.)
Lisa Fritsch: "Why would Harry Reid apologize now when it seems clear he felt it and meant it at the time? It was less likely 'a poor choice of words' than an honest reflection of Reid's character."
R. Dozier Gray: "Black people historically have a lot of forgiveness in their hearts for people who make statements like the one Reid made. I might have forgiven him long ago had he sought to be accountable when he realized that what he said was stupid instead of when he realized that a book featuring it was coming out. But the black 'leadership' will likely let this slide. Power is usually more important to them than this sort of soft racism from a political ally. Truth be told, some of the policies advocated by Reid and his allies are more damaging than a few of his random racial comments."
Darryn "Dutch" Martin: "In the grand scheme of things, what Reid said, his apology and Obama's acceptance of it is irrelevant. What is striking is that Reid said it in 2008, a Time magazine reporter knew it and didn't make it public until 2010! Why wasn't it reported as soon as it became known? Would the mainstream media exercise such restraint and bury a newsworthy quote if a conservative public figure made a similar linguistic faux pas? I think not."
In the book Game Change, set to be released Monday, authors Mark Halpern and John Heilemann write that Reid privately analyzed the electoral appeal of then-Senator Barack Obama, referring to Obama as "light-skinned" with "no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one."
When the comments were posted on Marc Ambinder's Atlantic magazine website, Reid expressed "deep regret [for] using such a poor choice of words." President Obama issued a rare immediate public statement saying he "accepted Harry's apology without question."
Reid is no stranger to using the race card for political gain. In December 2009, for example, Reid compared those who opposed a government takeover of health care to lawmakers who opposed abolishing slavery and civil rights legislation.
Project 21, established in 1992, is sponsored by the National Center for Public Policy Research (http://www.nationalcenter.org).