Racist Abuse of a Conservative Black
Tim Scott, the lone black Republican senator, gave a passionate defense of Sen. Jeff Sessions Wednesday, reading a series of tweets from critics that accused him of being a “house negro” and a “disgrace to the black race” for supporting the general attorney nominee.
The 30-minute speech, which prompted congratulatory statements by Republicans and Democrats, was a distillation of the backlash he has received for supporting Sessions, who has faced accusations of racism for more than 30 years.
“You are an Uncle Tom, Scott. You’re for Sessions. How does a black man turn on his own,” Scott said, reading criticisms of himself on social media. “Tim Scott … doesn’t have a shred of honor. He’s a House Negro like the one in Django.”
He added, “I left out all the ones that used the ‘n-word.’ Just felt like that would not be appropriate.”
Scott said the blowback comes with the territory being a black conservative in the South. He said he’s grown used to being accused by liberals of not being “helpful to black America,” despite his status as one of 10 African-Americans to ever serve in the Senate.
“I just wish that my friends who call themselves liberals would want tolerance for all Americans, including conservative Americans,” Scott said.
Sessions was blocked from a federal judge position in 1986 by a Republican Senate over racially-charged remarks he allegedly made about black people and the Ku Klux Klan. A key letter from Coretta Scott King in opposition to his nomination for that position gained new life on Tuesday when Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) tried to read it into the congressional record and was silenced by the GOP.
Scott said he had no issue with that letter and said senators should read it even if they disagree with her contention that Sessions intimidated black voters.
“Her standing in the history of our nation means her voice should be heard. What I took issue with last night and the true violation of [Senate rules] in my eyes were the remarks shared last night originally stated by Senator Kennedy, not Coretta Scott King,” Scott said, referring to Kennedy’s remarks then that called Sessions a “disgrace.”
Scott invited Sessions to his hometown of Charleston to meet with black church leaders in a city and state long divided on racial lines as he considered his nomination. Scott said the local reaction was far warmer to Sessions than from national civil rights groups, which attacked Scott for hosting Sessions.
But Scott said it was worth the criticism to see Sessions in his hometown, answering questions about police shootings and racial tensions. And that, in part, is why Scott said he can support Sessions despite vehement opposition from liberals, civil rights leaders and Sens. Cory Booker and Kamala Harris, the two other black senators in the chamber.
“He is not a racist,” Scott said. “Jeff Sessions has earned my support. And I will hold him accountable if and when we disagree.”
Sessions was subsequently confirmed by a vote of 52-47.