Sunday, May 18, 2014

Understanding 'Uncle Tom' remarks

A couple of weeks ago Missouri congressman Bennie Thompson denounced conservative Supreme Court justice Clarence Thomas as an "uncle Tom" -- a derogatory term for a black who sides with who is seen as an oppressor, a reference to the days of slavery. And he refused to walk it back.

Some folks want to call him and those who believe similarly that he's a racist or, at the least, engaging in unnecessary racial rhetoric.

Here's the problem: Thompson has a point.

I've known since 1997 that the conservative movement actually pays African-Americans well to support its policies, whether they believe them or not, the point to appear to "white moderates" that the movement has cleaned up its hard-earned reputation of racism. But the attempt has fooled virtually no one, especially these days due to the extreme polarization we see today.

Something I also notice: Black conservatives never engage the black community, especially its community leadership. (Considering that they'd get an earful from most blacks anyway, perhaps it wouldn't be a good idea.) But even more importantly, how many of these folks are actually crafting policy? None that I'm aware of. That's one reason African-Americans don't vote conservative -- they simply see no way to have any voice.

Thompson's diatribe might be extremely offensive to a lot of people. However, he's also right, and people ought to find out why.

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