Funny how the response to what is said is determined by who says it. Let’s be honest-if a Republican commented that Barack Obama, the fresh young Senator from Illinois, is “the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy,” well, the media, the DNC, the intelligentsia-heck, just about everyone-would waste no time in demanding an apology, and the more extreme factions within each of the aforementioned groups would be haughtily muttering accusations of racism just above their collective breaths. It obviously insinuates that prior to Mr. He’s-so-hot-right-now Obama’s rise to prominence, there existed no clean-cut and competent African American statesmen. That’s a pretty unequivocable slap in the face of the African-American community and beyond.
And yet, it was not a Republican congressman who remarked such. It was 2008 Presidential hopeful Joe Biden, a Democratic congressman from Deleware (CNN). Now two weeks later, the incident seems to be all but forgotten. But it was not the only recent racially-insensitive remark by a congressman this month, and indeed another Democrat. South Carolina’s Robert Ford proclaimed earlier in the month that “Obama winning the primary would drag down the rest of the party…Every Democratic candidate running on that ticket would lose because he’s black and he’s at the top of the ticket” (Associated Press). Ford summed it up rather nicely: “I love Obama, but I’m not going to kill myself.”
Even if these remarks are made by Democrats in the context of Obama’s impact on the party, they still should provide a grand display of the mass hypocrisy of the party that claims to be the party of the minorities, the poor, the middle class, and of tolerance. If a Republican were to stand up and say Obama could not win the Presidency because he is Black, they would be burned in effigy. Somehow, these utterances from Democratic lips are easily forgiven and forgotten.
For reference, consider two historical cases. Republican Trent Lott made a racially-insensitive remark in 2003 and was forced to resign his post as majority leader in the Senate. Conversely, Robert Byrd, a documented Ku Klux Klan leader until at least the late 1940s, became in 2006 the longest serving Senator in US history (Wikipedia). Yes, he was a Democrat.
As long as Democrats can get away with publicly-voiced disrespect for African-Americans, no progress will be made toward a time where when we mention the Senator from Illinois, the parenthetical notation of his race is no longer obligatory. That, my fellow Americans, should be the real story here.