Monday, January 11, 2010

Some Additional Thoughts on Harry Reid's "Negro" Remarks

In a prior post I denied that the term "Negro" is racist (by "racist" I mean "demeaning" or "insulting" for purposes of this discussion.  Webster's has a broader definition.)  Therefore, Harry Reid did not display "racism" in using the term and all of the race-baiting hoopla now in play is just dirty politics.  

However, I did not fully discuss Reid's other remarks, i.e. that Obama is "light skinned" and doesn't speak with a "Negro dialect."  From a purely objective viewpoint, Reid was factually correct in making this observation.  But what does his statement imply?

Here are some thoughts and observations:
1.  Reid was arguing that Obama's "light skin" is more politically viable than that of someone who is 100% black (Obama is the offspring of a mixed marriage).  Therefore, Obama's electoral chances were not as impaired by his racial composition as some Democrats might fear.  This observation is very politically incorrect, but from a realpolitik point of view, a valid point for discussion when assessing a candidate's chances.  The electorate, after all, is not comprised merely of  enlightened university graduates, but little old ladies from Topeka, Baptists from Abilene, and PTA members from Peoria.  And a whole lot of others.

My conclusion:  the "light skin" remark was discussed in a valid context, was not used or intended in any hateful way, and was therefore not racist.

2.  Obama doesn't speak in a "Negro dialect."  Again, a valid point for discussion when assessing a candidate's chances.  The way a candidate speaks is very important, as it provides a powerful first impression.  Ethnic accents can be charming to some and annoying to others, particularly if they make speech more difficult to understand.  (An example:  I love Sarah Palin, but her rural Alaskan comment "You Betcha" is rather annoying.)

My conclusion:  the "Negro dialect" comment was also not used or intended in a hateful way, was discussed in a valid context and was an appropriate item for discussion.  Therefore, the comment was not racist.

Good Lord, what is the world coming to when I am put into a position of defending Harry Reid?

The Republicans who are now taking advantage of his statements do the conservative cause more harm than good.  They are reinforcing the liberal standard of racial hypersensitivity, where even objectively true statements automatically render the speaker "racist."

See more discussion here.

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