Harry Reid and Al Campanis Sittin’ In a Tree…
No matter what magnitude of socio-political strides are made in US America, if you wait long enough, some belligerent old white guy will eventually send us back a few decades by saying something un-politically correct. And whether such belligerence explodes during a live interview with Ted Koppel or simmers in the pages of a newly published book that most people haven’t yet read, one thing is absolutely clear: evolution could use a little help in the humanoid self-censor department.
To me, what is most peculiar in the case of Harry Reid saying our country “was ready to embrace a black presidential candidate, especially one such as Obama — a ‘light-skinned’ African American with no Negro dialect” is that he was quoted as saying this some time ago, presumably knowing it would eventually show up in a public forum, somewhere. I find that just a bit less forgiving than telling a live, nationally televised audience that “blacks may not have some of the necessities to be, let’s say, a field manager, or, perhaps, a general manager,” which is exactly what Al Campanis said when donning his ignorance cap back in April 1987.
In both cases, someone in power — a white someone in power — said something offensive, something abrasive, something that nicked at years and years of progress; and for that, we cannot allow ourselves to just be silent. We have to say, do, discuss something.
Campanis’ remarks got him fired. Reid’s probably won’t, though that is not to say they shouldn’t. I’m not the racism czar, so I don’t really know, and I’m glad that I don’t have to make such decisions.
But I can say that the time for social readjustment is always now; it’s always relevant. Reid (and Campanis before him) said out loud what many people still believe to be true. Far from ideal, this country (and its people) still have a lot of learning to do. Remember, it took our species thousands and thousands of years to finally realize the earth is round, not flat.
And the only way we can come to a mutual understanding of the truth is to work together. So yeah. Let’s do that, shall we?
In the meantime, this racially charged hiccup does have a fulfilling footnote. Reid’s comments came to light through the publication of Mark Halperin and John Heilemann’s new book entitled Game Change. And if you go to Game Change‘s Amazon.com entry, scroll down to the critical reviews, you will find a ginormous gem of a quote from Barack Obama:
“This s*** would be really interesting if we weren’t in the middle of it.”
Agreed, Mr. President. Absolutely agreed.
Don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.