Poor Republicans: They just can’t seem to get it right. They are accused by their brethren across the aisle of not being inclusive enough — of being too white and too male. So they bring a person of color or of the feminine persuasion into their fold, and what happens? The left accuses them of pandering.
Take the op-ed (please!) in today’s New York Times by Adolph L. Reed, Jr., a political science professor at the University of Pennsylvania. The focus of the piece is the announcement on Monday by South Carolina Nikki Haley that she has named Tim Scott, a black man, to fill the U.S. Senate seat vacated by outgoing Sen. Jim DeMint.
Reed’s reaction? Meh:
[The] ‘first black’ rhetoric tends to interpret African-American political successes — including that of President Obama — as part of a morality play that dramatizes ‘how far we have come.’ It obscures the fact that modern black Republicans have been more tokens than signs of progress.
The cheerleading over racial symbolism plays to the Republicans’ desperate need to woo (or at least appear to woo) minority voters, who favored Mr. Obama over Mitt Romney by huge margins.
How damned are the Republicans whether they do or don’t? Reed provides some perspective by noting that “Haley — a daughter of Sikh immigrants from Punjab, India — is the first female and first nonwhite governor of South Carolina, the home to white supremacists like John C. Calhoun, Preston S. Brooks, Ben Tillman and Strom Thurmond.”
By mentioning these famed segregationists in the same breath, it is almost as though Reed is holding Haley accountable for the state’s past “sins” dating all the way to colonial times. Doesn’t the fact of her election demonstrate that the Palmetto State — and the GOP — have moved on? Apparently not. The past it seems is prologue.
Unless, of course, you’re a Democrat, in which case the past is past. Dixiecrats? Never heard of ‘em (even though the aforementioned former Gov. Thurmond was one of them!).
Halfway through his essay, Reed tips his hand. His real beef with Scott (who he acknowledges defeated Thurmond’s son in the 2010 Republican House primary, and with the help of the — gulp! — Tea Party) is his politics. He has “been staunchly anti-tax, anti-union and anti-abortion.” These are views that Reed explains are “utterly at odds with the preferences of most black Americans.” He doesn’t bother to note that this is due in no small part to liberal propaganda, which admonishes blacks against adopting these positions lest they be branded “house Negroes” (to borrow a coinage from Harry Belanfonte).
In parting it’s worth noting that Reed was not always so cynical about using the elevation of blacks — including Obama — to dramatize “how far we have come.” In July of 2008, he raised no objection to the observation by one black writer that Barack “Obama’s success will embody how far we have come in realizing racial democracy.”
That writer was Adolph Reed, Jr.
Howard Portnoy has written for HotAir, NewsBusters, Weasel Zippers, Conservative Firing Line, RedCounty, and New York’s Daily News. He has one published novel, Hot Rain, (G. P. Putnam’s Sons), and has been a guest on Radio Vice Online with Jim Vicevich, The Alana Burke Show, and The George Espenlaub Show.
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