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Tuesday, January 12, 2010

McIlheran Watch: Actually half-right on Harry Reid

by folkbum

Credit where credit is due: Patrick McIlheran demonstrates some solid reading comprehension today and notes what Harry Reid actually said, as opposed to what a lot of Republicans and the local rightblogerati wish Harry Reid had said. Whereas the afore-mentioned are somehow insisting that Reid is racist*, despite a long history of supporting civil rights and no history of making racist remarks, McIlheran explains that Reid was, in fact, noting the the US has a history of racism:
No, consider what Reid was saying: That because Obama’s skin wasn’t so dark and because of how he spoke, he’d go far for the party. He’d be marketable. He’d go over well with the American voter. In short, Reid was presuming that the electorate consists of bigots who’d be put off by a darker skin or a stronger accent.
There is, of course, nothing inaccurate about that. Quiz: Before Barack Obama, how many black presidents have we had? Speakers of the House? Majority Leaders in the Senate? All zero.

Black governors? Okay, a little better: David Patterson, currently governor of New York--for about thirteen more seconds--is the fourth African American to rise to that title in this nation's history. Deval Patrick, currently gov in Massachusetts, is the third. Only two of the four have been elected to the office--Patrick and Virginia's Doug Wilder. Think about that--in all this nation's history, only two black men (and no black women) have been elected to lead a state.

The US Senate's history is a little more colorful, sure; six African Americans have served in that body. The one currently serving black senator--Roland Burris, of Illinois--was appointed by a governor (it was a bleeping golden thing), and two were appointed by the Mississippi legislature during reconstruction. So in all of US history, only three African Americans have ever been elected by the people of a state to the Senate. (Interestingly: Six black senators out of--if teh Wiki is to be believed--1818 in US history is a total of 0.33%. That means there have been, proportionally, more black presidents--2.2%--than black senators. Hm.)

That sounds to me like we live in a country reticent to elect African Americans to state-wide or higher office, if only six have ever achieved it (counting Obama).

Now, McIlheran's problem with Reid--and the reason why he's only half-right here--is that McIlheran is offended that Reid noticed this country's history of racism. Now, if the global warming denial nonsense has taught us anything, it's that accurately describing the world around you is a cardinal sin for McIlheran and his ilk. It is no wonder, then, that Harry Reid comes in for criticism from those who may just be a little too accurately described in the remarks.

UPDATE: The Brawler documents my last sentence for me!

* Compare, of course, to Trent Lott, whose history of racial insensitivity and actual nostalgia for the days of segregationist candidates made his remarks about a brazillion times worser.

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