Clay Claiborne writes in Daily Kos, arguing the following about Harry Reid's racist comments. What comes below is what Claiborne argues.
As a Black activist, there are many things I may hold against Harry Reid, but saying "Obama is a light-skinned African-American with no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one." is not one of them. He was making an assessment of whether "the country was ready to embrace a black presidential candidate" according to the book Game Change. He was certainly not dissing Obama, he was "wowed by Obama's oratorical gifts" according to the same source. In fact, I don't see how his remarks can be construed to reflect negatively on Black people at all. He wasn't saying that Obama would make a better president because he is "a light-skinned African-American with no Negro dialect", he is saying that he would make a better candidate. His comments are not an assessment of the man, they are an assessment of the voting public, the largely white voting public. As such they are a rather blunt and hardheaded assessment of the role that racism plays in American politics.
Furthermore, what Harry Reid said was 100% accurate. Anyone that thinks that a candidate running for president that is not an upper class white male is not playing with a handicap, knows nothing about American history and is living in Fantasyland. Even with all his other incredible qualifications, I seriously doubt that Barack Obama could have gotten elected as our first Black president in this day and age had not the last white male that held the job been such a complete ...what's the word I'm looking for?
It is also well established that one of peculiarities of racism in America is that not only are whites to be considered superior to blacks, but light skinned blacks are to be considered superior to their darker brothers. This peculiar notions is not only believed among some whites, tragically it is also believed by some blacks and like most racist views, they don't even have to be consciously held to play a role in our behavior. There is already ample literature on the subject to establish both of these facts so I won't belabor the proof here. Anyone who differs, I will meet you in comments. Likewise, anyone who thinks Obama isn't light skinned ["high yellow"] or that he does speak with a Negro dialect, or alternately, that there is no such thing that could be creditably called "a Negro dialect", I will meet you in comments.
Historically, racism has played an incredibly important role in American politics and today it continues to do so. Republicans well understand that. Time and again they have served their rich masters and held back progress in this country by building a racist coalition while at the same time sowing confusion around the whole question of race and racism in America. Today, as they are madly trying to pound together a new reactionary coalition of Birthers and Tea Baggers with racism as one of the major supports, they would love nothing better that sow confusion about just who is a racist by accusing Harry Reid of racism simply because it took the candidate's color into consideration in assessing the election.
Certain forces, especially Republican forces, forces that, speaking frankly, rather consciously use racism to divide people and thereby influence the body politic, would have you believe that a post-racist society is the same as a post-racial society and solution is that we should all now be colorblind. So any statement that mentions race is apropos at racist statement. This is the wool they are trying to pull over the Democrats head with all this twitter about Harry Reid. Meanwhile, they are developing the fine art of creating movements that encourage racism at a very deep level, like the Birther movement, without having to ever mention race!
And true to form the spineless Democrats fall for it. Starting with Reid himself, who rushes to apologized. Sorry for my choice of words, blah,blah, and Obama rushes to accept. And why not? Otherwise I'd like to see that libel trial! Obama's going to prove he's not "light-skinned" for a Negro? He's going to prove he can't talk like a Harvard graduate when he wants to? What is there to apologize for? For saying that race played a role in the last election? For summizing, correctly, IMHO, that it would be easier, in this country today, to elect someone like Barack Obama, than say, someone like Jesse Jackson?
But certain Republicans, like Sens. John Cornyn (R-TX) and Jon Kyl (R-AZ) would compare Reid's statements to Senator Trent Lott’s (R-MS) comments back in 2002. Lott said: "When Strom Thurmond ran for president, we voted for him. We’re proud of it. And if the rest of the country had followed our lead, we wouldn't have had all these problems over the years, either." So in that case we had a Senate leader that after more than 50 years, looked back at the period of segregation, and Jim Crow laws and Klan terror as the better road to have take! It is quite impossible to escape the conclusion that he is a racist. And we are suppose to equate the two? Give me a break!
Other bloggers seeking to muddle the waters have compared his comments to those of Senator George Allen who referred to a Black man he didn't like as a 'macaca' which is a type of monkey and a racial slur, so it is hard to avoid the conclusion that Allen is something of a racists. Further more, there is plenty in the history of both of these Republican senators to corroborate that conclusion. This is not the case with Harry Reid!
Hitler says "Kill all the Jews" and another guy says "There are a lot of Jews in banking" and you have one label for both of them? Who does that serve?
Written by Clay Clayborne
Introduction by Armen Hareyan