I bet Hakeem Jeffries posed this question at a hearing with Trump alum Mark Paoletta expecting that Paoletta wouldn’t be able to come up with anything off the cuff. Which was a fair assumption, as sometimes it’s hard to call up specifics when someone puts you on the spot. Ever watch Billy Eichner’s old show, when he’d ambush people on the street and ask them inanely easy questions — and sometimes they’d blank? He’d run up to them with a cameraman in tow, stick a mic in their face, and say, “Quick, for a dollar — name a woman.” Literally any woman! And sometimes the person, stunned by the encounter, would simply babble, “Uh, uh…”
That’s what Jeffries was hoping for here, I think. “Okay, smart guy. We’re so racist towards Clarence Thomas? Cite even one example.” “Uh, uh…”
But Paoletta had an example. Of someone who was actually present in the room with them.
Rep. Jeffries: "What evidence do you have to support" that Dems hate Clarence Thomas because he's a black conservative?@MarkPaoletta: The Chairman of this committee called him an Uncle Tom.
Rep. Jeffries: He has freedom of speech.
"Can I give you another example."
— Center for Renewing America (@amrenewctr) April 28, 2022
It’s Jeffries who seems stunned and resorts to babbling, in this case about Bennie Thompson having freedom of speech. Right, he does have that. What’s that got to do with asking Paoletta for an example of liberal racism towards Thomas?
I wonder if Paoletta studied up or if his memory is long by nature because Thompson’s remarks about Thomas are almost a decade old. From 2014:
Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., is standing by remarks he made on a New Nation of Islam radio program where he alleged that criticism of President Obama is motivated by racism and called Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas an “Uncle Tom.”…
While the term might be racially charged for some, for others, “It’s the truth,” he said.
When CNN reporter Dana Bash noted that the term wouldn’t be appropriate if used by someone who is white, Thompson replied, “But I’m black.”
Notice how quickly Jeffries pivots in the clip from scoffing that Democrats have ever denigrated Clarence Thomas in racist ways to pointing out that black Democrats have been denigrated in racist ways too, implying that Thomas’s experience isn’t worthy of special sympathy. Right, there’s no excuse for racism whatever the motive. But Thomas’s experience *is* unusual in one respect: He gets it from old-school racists for being black and from new-school racists for not being black enough.
For instance, here’s how Jim Clyburn, the number three Democrat in the House, responded when asked about Thompson’s “Uncle Tom” comments in 2014:
JOE SCARBOROUGH: You think it’s all right to be calling a Supreme Court justice an Uncle Tom?
JAMES CLYBURN: All of us have ways of expressing our disappointments. I am very disappointed in Clarence Thomas.
SCARBOROUGH: Do you think he’s an Uncle Tom?
CLYBURN: Well, I don’t know.
SCARBOROUGH: You don’t know if a Supreme Court justice is an Uncle Tom?
Clyburn, who’s African-American himself and would presumably strongly deny that there’s any racial component to his dislike of Clarence Thomas, couldn’t muster even a halfhearted defense of Thomas’s racial dignity. It’s another example of the left’s eternal and recurring grievance with the justice, that because he’s conservative he isn’t authentically black. So old is that grievance, in fact, that recently I stumbled across a Washington Post piece about Thomas convening an “extraordinary meeting” with black journalists and other African-Americans to make clear to them, and I quote, “I am not an Uncle Tom.”
That piece was published in 1994. Racialized criticism of Thomas has been happening for more than half of Jeffries’s entire life, in other words, making it frankly amazing that he’d pretend play dumb about it even if just to try to score a political point.
It’s true that elected Democratic officials tend to stay away from the “Uncle Tom” rhetoric, not wanting to invite a political fracas. Thompson’s a notable exception. But check the lefty grassroots on social media whenever Thomas is in the news and you won’t have to look hard for “race traitor” rhetoric. Or just check major media, frankly. It shows up there every now and then too.
— Washington Examiner (@dcexaminer) November 4, 2020