Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) got himself into some hot water for his comments regarding President Barack Obama during the 2008 presidential election. In the recently released political gossip book, “Game Change,” authors John Heilemann and Mark Halperin wrote that Reid, in an off-the-record comment, referred to the president as a “light-skinned” African American “with no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one.” Reid’s shocking comments do very little to help his troubled reelection bid and serve as a mild embarrassment for the president. Even more outrageous is the response from the pundits in the media.
The Republicans went with their standard response, demanding immediate resignation. But their calls for Reid to resign reflect opportunistic attempts from a party desperate to score political points in any form imaginable. The party has been trying every possible idea to win back power. Weeks ago, it was screaming that the president does not believe the United States is at war with al-Qaida and other extremist groups. Before that, it said health care reform would lead to the euthanasia of our grandparents.
Similarly, the speedy forgiveness granted to Reid by Democrats and black leaders should cause significant public outrage. Democrats, in a rush to finish the president’s “signature issue,” a health care reform bill, quickly sent out statements forgiving Reid so the mini-scandal would go away and allow them to pass their health care bill. The same black leaders who helped dethrone former Republican Majority Leader Trent Lott of Mississippi for his own racist remarks glossed over Reid’s statements and missed the opportunity to help us all learn from this teachable moment. These so-called leaders will gather on Martin Luther King Jr. Day and will attempt to tell us about his dream.
Our leaders have once again failed us because they decided to play politics instead of address an issue that Americans still struggle with.
The song “Everyone’s a Little Bit Racist,” from the musical “Avenue Q,” comes to mind when I see politicians bicker about which party is more racist and more deserving of public scorn. In all instances, politicians dismiss this simple fact of life. We all make these comments and know of others who have done the same. Instead of grandstanding and making accusations about how racist another person is, we should find ways to bridge these gaps so that we can truly get connected to each other and share in the things that unite us.
Bennett Parsons is a junior music education major from Arlington.