What does Harry Reid have to apologize for?
It’s not entirely clear to me that Reid, in his remarks, was not adopting the speech of a person who might feel the way he described, rather than the way he himself feels. And if the latter, the only thing he might apologize for is the use of the antiquated term “Negro,” which some find offensive given its roots in the slave trade (among other reasons).
Implying that Obama’s response to Reid’s comment, as some have done by comparing them, should be consistent with his response to earlier comments by Trent Lott (Strom Thurmond was right to oppose civil rights, which are the cause of many of the problems we have today [to paraphrase]) and Don Imus’s (the Rutgers championship basketball team is composed of ugly prostitutes), is itself more offensive than Reid’s comment.
Reid was stating an unfortunate fact of the absurd degree to which race continues to define our society, and some people’s place in it. Lott was endorsing apartheid, which, even if he was joking, is repulsive (especially for a national leader). Imus was misogynistically debasing a group of accomplished individuals based on their appearance, using a significant, derogatory and racially-specific term to do so.
Just found that Mark Kleiman said essentially the same thing before I did, not to my knowledge. I say this in the interest of disclosure, not self-aggrandizement.
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