Is this a case of a rhetorical fumble, or a dog-whistle slam on the Senate GOP’s black caucus member? Or just a case of Republicans pouncing? The RNC accused Dick Durbin of making a dog-whistle remark after he called Sen. Tim Scott’s reform package a “token” effort toward resolving policing issues in the US. That’s a fairly common term, but then again, if a Republican had said it …
Democrat Sen. Dick Durbin pushes a racist dog whistle on the Senate floor, using the word "token" while discussing the Sen. Tim Scott led bill on police reformhttps://t.co/cB7LG8U8qS pic.twitter.com/QUbksEeazU
— RNC Research (@RNCResearch) June 17, 2020
Guy Benson also makes the double-standard case while allowing for the probability that Durbin didn’t exercise much care in his prepared remarks:
At the very least, this is tone deaf and insensitive wording. And if a Republican Senator has said something similar, the ‘dog whistle’ whisperers would be out in full force. https://t.co/iSSBzGmnHd
— Guy Benson (@guypbenson) June 17, 2020
I’m loathe to assign ill will to this without more evidence that Durbin meant it in that way. Conservatives get accused of this dog-whistle nonsense all the time without any evidence of racist motives, so enabling that doesn’t exactly play to our interests. On the other hand, the T-word has come up of late with Scott — for instance, on NBC’s Today last week:
CRAIG MELVIN: Senator, you have faced a fair amount of criticism, especially over the past few days, because you are the only black Republican senator, some have said that your party is using you, they’ve even thrown around the word ‘token,’ as well. Your response to that criticism?
SCOTT: Well, I am also the only person in my conference who has been racially profiled, driving while black. I’m the only one in my conference that’s been stopped seven times in one year as an elected official, perhaps the only one in my conference wearing this senate pin that was stopped from coming into the building. So if there’s someone in the conference who understands discrimination and profiling, it’s me. It’s the reason why I asked to lead this charge, because it is a personal issue, it is the right issue. And frankly, I think it helps to have someone who has been a victim of this situation and who still has a tremendous respect for where our country can go together. So I shrug those comments and criticisms off. But you’ve got to know, when you’re a black Republican, you’re like a unicorn. People are going to criticize you when you wake up, when you go to sleep. If you say you like apple pie and football, there’s a lot of critics for that, too. So God bless their souls.
So Scott’s not exactly in the mood to hear nonsense about tokens. He proved that shortly after Durbin’s speech on Twitter. In response to Durbin’s zinger, Scott fired this bazooka in return. Operator, I’d like to report a slaying …
— Tim Scott (@SenatorTimScott) June 17, 2020
In case you missed it, here’s the event Scott’s referencing in the tweet.
Talk about tokenism. And frankly, in this charged environment, Durbin should have known better than to use that term. In fact, its problematic nature is so easily spotted that it’s tough to think it wasn’t purposefully included. That’s exactly the standard applied to conservatives anyway, so … let Durbin answer for it.