Monday, February 04, 2019

The Ballad of a Black Republican

Thomas Farr was a Trump nominee for a North Carolina district court judgeship.

Senator Tim Scott (R-SC), the sole Black Republican in the Senate, opposed his nomination, citing concerns about Farr's racial history. This isn't something Scott does on the regular; indeed, he's been a consistent supporter of President Trump's judicial nominees.

Now, as we know, the Republican position on racism has long been to angrily deny that they're okay with racism, while at the same time insisting that any alleged instance of racism that inconveniences them in any way is a left-wing smear that (sadly!) distracts attention from the "real" racism. In the event "real" racism does rear its head, the Republicans insist, they will be its most uncompromising foes.

So one might think, then, that if one of the few Black Republicans in Congress, who has not made a habit of accusing Trump nominees of racism, says "hey -- this guy presents a problem", that they might take that claim seriously and abandon Farr for a different Trump nominee whose legal views are almost certain to be materially identical to Farr in virtually all respects. After all, surely nobody could accuse Tim Scott of only leveling a racism claim reflexively, against any and all Republicans, to benefit a left-wing political agenda?

In the three-page memo [signed by 31 conservative leaders], they urged Scott to reconsider his position, arguing a smear campaign was launched by “unprincipled left-wing activists who hate Tom” and suggesting Scott was complicit in the partisan attack.
“In these difficult days, when allegations of racism are carelessly, and all too often deliberately, thrown about without foundation, the result is not racial healing, but greater racial polarization,” they wrote. “Joining with those who taunt every political opponent a ‘racist’ as a partisan political tactic to destroy their reputations is not helpful to the cause of reconciliation.”
Scott, to his credit, remains unbowed:
“For some reason the authors of this letter choose to ignore ... facts, and instead implicate that I have been co-opted by the left and am incapable of my own decision making,” Scott said in a statement to McClatchy, adding he votes for Republican judicial nominees “99 percent of the time.”
“Why they have chosen to expend so much energy on this particular nomination I do not know, but what I do know is they have not spent anywhere near as much time on true racial reconciliation efforts, decrying comments by those like (Republican U.S. Rep.) Steve King, or working to move our party together towards a stronger, more unified future,” Scott continued, referring to the Iowa congressman who recently suggested he was sympathetic to white supremacists in a New York Times interview.
But you'll note -- and this is not Scott's fault -- that whatever credit Scott might have thought he'd earn as a good Republican soldier was unable to be cashed at the conservative bank. Much like the anti-Zionist Jew who finally sees an attack on Israel he actually thinks is antisemitic, the Black Republican who finally sees a case of conservative racism will find that he is viewed no differently than any other Black person who levels a charge of racism -- untrustworthy, unthoughtful, probably a tool, definitely a liar. That he generally buys into the conservative view on politics -- it doesn't matter. That he's more often ran cover for conservatives on questions of racism -- it doesn't matter.

That's the sad ballad of the Black Republican. Tim Scott might genuinely think that the reason that racism claims are discredited by Republicans is that so many of them are, in his view, made by bad actors acting in bad faith. But he'll find that, in truth, all it takes to become viewed as a bad actor is to be a Black actor who speaks of racism in a way that inconveniences Republican. Push comes to shove, they don't trust him any more than any other African-American public figure

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