Tag Archives: literacy tests

Open Thread: Michael Steele, Tom Tancredo, and Racism In Politics

by Latoya Peterson

A quick one, because time is short.

From the “racism doesn’t exist until it happens to me” files,  The Nation points out Michael Steele’s double speak on race:

Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele used to be able to muster a lot of disdain for political players who suggested that criticism of them might be racially motivated.

“I don’t play the race card, I don’t play the race game, the way some tend to do,” Steele, the Republican Party’s most prominent African-American leader, declared last November.

The RNC chair used to argue that the very mention of race as a factor in how pols are perceived and treated was liberal whining and he has said that he is “sick and tired” of those on the left who “play that race card, that slavery card, that civil rights card (when) their backs are up against the wall.” [...]

In a new interview with Washingtonian magazine, Steele, one of the Republican party’s most high-profile African-American stalwarts for a number of years, noted that Democratic National Committee chairman Tim Kaine, who is white, doesn’t seem to be the target of the same sort of griping, embarrassing leaks and negative publicity that the RNC chair is experiencing.

“I don’t see stories about the internal operations of the DNC that I see about this operation,” Steele wonders. “Why? Is it because Michael Steele is the chairman, or is it because a black man is chairman?”

In other news, Mediate reports on Rachel Maddow – and how she made a point to tackle the ignorance that is Tom Tancredo:

On Saturday Maddow referred to Rep. Tom Tancredo — whom she described as a “failed presidential candidate” and “professional anti-immigrant” — as having opened the Tea Party Convention with “a big, loud racist bang” because of his assertion that President Obama was elected by “people who could not even spell the word vote, or say it in English” and then proposed bringing the literacy test back.

At the time Maddow rightly (and righteously) noted that literacy tests were frequently used in the South during segregation to keep African Americans from voting. Last night she picked up where she’d left off on Saturday with a long, more damning description of the shameful practice. Maddow read aloud from Alabama’s literacy test from 1965 (can you answer any of these questions) before declaring her awe and disgust that something similar was proposed just this past weekend.