Tim Scott Very Glad To Live In A Not Racist Country Despite All The Racism He Has Personally Experienced
Last night, Republicans chose South Carolina Senator Tim Scott to deliver their rebuttal to President Joe Biden's speech to Congress. And so Scott gave a speech, a rather non-specific speech, about how Biden wasn't doing unity right and how the United States is not a racist country despite all of the racism he has personally experienced here. Although to be fair, he also suggests that a not-insignificant part of that racism has come from other Black people calling him "Uncle Tim."
Scott's initial and primary complaint is that while Joe Biden talks a good game about unity, he is still doing things that Democrats want instead of things that Republicans want. Because apparently elections are only supposed to "have consequences" when Republicans are elected.
Good evening. I'm Senator Tim Scott from the great state of South Carolina. We just heard President Biden's first address to Congress. Our president seems like a good man. His speech was full of good words.
But President Biden promised you a specific kind of leadership. He promised to unite a nation. To lower the temperature. To govern for all Americans, no matter how we voted. This was the pitch. You just heard it again.
But our nation is starving for more than empty platitudes. We need policies and progress that bring us closer together. But three months in, the actions of the president and his party are pulling us further and further apart.
So let's just address this right here.
We just had four years of waking up every morning to Donald Trump ranting about conspiracy-laden nonsense, insulting people, acting like a middle school bully, refusing to send aid to blue states during natural disasters, etc., etc. Platitudes, empty or not, are a step up in terms of lowering the temperature. In fact, practically anything would be. You will notice that while those of us on the Left are pushing for specific things we think would benefit people as a whole, we are not going around accusing Tim Scott or any other Republicans of eating babies to get high. This is a step up, as would be someone who "seems like a good man." The bar was extremely low.
That being said.
Republicans in Congress have made it clear over the years that they have absolutely no interest in working with Democrats, on anything, as a matter of principle. That they will settle only for getting exactly what they want all of the time, and they are not known for sending out thank you cards or I.O.U.s when they get it, either. So how does anyone craft policy that would hypothetically "bring us closer together" when that is the case? The best way to govern for all Americans in this case is to govern for all Americans, not solely for office-holding Republicans.
Scott then went on to thank his mother, thank a Chik-fil-A operator, and thank the church for helping him in his life, and to then express his sadness that COVID-19 has taken away those opportunities for others — killing parents, shutting down small businesses (like homophobic fast food chains), and closing churches.
This past year, I've watched COVID attack every rung of the ladder that helped me up. So many families have lost parents and grandparents too early. So many small businesses have gone under. Becoming a Christian transformed my life — but for months, too many churches were shut down.
Oh, because surely it would have been better for people to lose more parents and grandparents than for people to have to "fellowship" online.
Scott then complained about schools not reopening, and then praised "school choice" out of nowhere.
Most of all, I'm saddened that millions of kids have lost a year of learning when they could not afford to lose a single day. Locking vulnerable kids out of the classroom is locking adults out of their future. Our public schools should have reopened months ago. Other countries' did. Private and religious schools did.
Science has shown for months that schools are safe. But too often, powerful grown-ups set science aside. And kids like me were left behind. The clearest case I've seen for school choice in our lifetime is because we know that education is the closest thing to magic in America.
Yeah, the reason many schools didn't open is because while schools have been shown to be safe when they can follow the proper safety protocols, not all school districts can afford to do that. You know what takes money away from school districts that would ostensibly need that money in order to follow said safety protocols? "School choice." Because while it may individually benefit some children who are either more financially well off than their peers or particularly gifted, it hurts even more the most vulnerable students. "School choice" would not have been helpful in this particular situation and could possibly have led to public schools being so underfunded that they did not open for even longer.
Scott then went on to talk about the halcyon days of the Trump administration when Republicans and Democrats worked together on five COVID bills, and about how they didn't feel as included in the bill written under the Biden administration, and how Republicans are totally into infrastructure and no one wants to include them on those bills either.
Last year, under Republican leadership, we passed five bipartisan COVID packages. Congress supported our schools, our hospitals, saved our economy, and funded Operation Warp Speed, delivering vaccines in record time. All five bills got 90 — 90 votes in the Senate. Common sense found common ground.
In February, Republicans told President Biden we wanted to keep working together to finish this fight. But Democrats wanted to go it alone. They spent almost $2 trillion on a partisan bill that the White House bragged was the most liberal bill in American history. Only one percent went to vaccinations. No requirement to reopen schools promptly.
Just hopping in here to note that Biden's COVID relief plan may not have required schools to reopen promptly — because remember "local control"? — but funded $123 billion in improvements in ventilation, etc., so they could.
No Republicans voted for it.
COVID brought Congress together five times. This administration pushed us apart.
Another issue should — that should unite us is infrastructure. Republicans support everything you think of when you think of infrastructure. Roads, bridges, ports, airports, waterways, high-speed broadband — we're in for all of that. But again, Democrats want a partisan wish list. They won't even build bridges to build bridges.
Ah yes, we all recall the infrastructure week that never happened under Trump. It seems more that while Republicans say they are in favor of these things, they're not really interested in actually helping to get them done.
It is also no one's job to build a bridge to people who have been on a bridge smashing jag for decades.
Scott then went on to criticize Biden for not building common ground by doing what Republicans want in the areas of abortions and the Supreme Court.
The president is also abandoning principles he held for decades. Now, he says your tax dollars should fund abortions. He's laying groundwork to pack the Supreme Court. This is not common ground.
First of all, if Scott is talking about the Mexico City Policy — which in fact leads to far more abortions than it prevents — that changes with every administration. If he's talking about the Hyde Amendment, that prevents women who are in the military and women who are on Medicaid from using their insurance to get abortions. That's not right. It is also a policy that kills people. That is why we don't want it.
Second, Republicans stole a Supreme Court seat and they're going to have to pay for it some way or another. They denied Obama the ability to appoint a judge in the last year of his term, insisting that it was a matter of principle, and then allowed Trump to appoint one in his. Had they not done either one of those things, no one would be talking about court-packing. They don't just get to get away with this, sorry.
For what it's worth, my tax dollars go to lots of things I hate. Wars, prisons, the salaries of police officers who brutalize people of color. I am lucky enough to not live in a state that has the death penalty, but if I did, my tax dollars would be used to send people (possibly innocent people) to their deaths. Certainly, wars, prison and the death penalty are things people feel just as strongly about as abortion, and yet there is no question that our taxes must go to fund those things. So perhaps Republicans might want to keep their mouths shut about what people's taxes go to, because there are a whole lot of things other people might feel morally opposed to that they would like to use tax dollars for.
And speaking of police officers brutalizing people of color, Scott then got onto the subject of race and police brutality.
Nowhere do we need common ground more desperately than in our discussions of race. I have experienced the pain of discrimination. I know what it feels like to be pulled over for no reason. To be followed around a store while I'm shopping. [...]
I've also experienced a different kind of intolerance. I get called "Uncle Tom" and the n-word by progressives, by liberals. Just last week, a national newspaper suggested my family's poverty was actually privilege because a relative owned land generations before my time.
Now, this is just a random sampling, but all of the people on my Twitter timeline who are calling Scott "Uncle Tim" are Black people. It seems fair to say that it's usually Black people who call other Black people Uncle Toms. Is Scott actually suggesting that criticism of his behavior in this way, from other Black people, is the same thing as active discrimination from white people with power? Because that seems like a stretch.
Believe me, I know firsthand our healing is not finished. In 2015, after the shooting of Walter Scott, I wrote a bill to fund body cameras. Last year, after the deaths of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd, I built an even bigger police reform proposal. But my Democratic colleagues blocked it.
I extended an olive branch. I offered amendments. But Democrats used the filibuster to block the debate from even happening. My friends across the aisle seemed to want the issue more than they wanted a solution. But I'm still working. I'm hopeful that this will be different.
Yes. They did block it. Not out of spite or a desire to "keep" the issue, or to smash Tim Scott's olive branch for no reason, but because the bill did not ban the use of choke holds like the one that killed George Floyd or the use of no-knock warrants that led to Breonna Taylor's death. That is a fairly glaring oversight.
It's good that he is still working. Perhaps he can get on board with a bill that does ban these things. That would be helpful.
Scott then did the reverse racism shuffle.
Today, kids again are being taught that the color of their skin defines them, and if they look a certain way, they're an oppressor. From colleges to corporations to our culture, people are making money and gaining power by pretending we haven't made any progress at all, by doubling down on the divisions we've worked so hard to heal.
Racism doesn't exist in a vacuum. It doesn't just hurt the people it hurts, it also benefits the people it doesn't hurt. The same is true for every other "ism" on earth. We can't eliminate the hurt without also eliminating the benefit, and we can't eliminate the benefit without acknowledging that it exists in the first place. And as long as both of those things exist, that "division" will exist, whether or not we talk about it openly or not.
You know this stuff is wrong. Hear me clearly: America is not a racist country. It's backwards to fight discrimination with different types of discrimination. And it's wrong to try to use our painful past to dishonestly shut down debates in the present.
Just to be clear. Tim Scott mentioned several instances of racism he had personally experienced. He mentioned two instances of racism that happened to other people. But "America is
an honorable man is not a racist country."
Then what is a racist country? Would America prior to the Civil Rights Act count? Would apartheid-era South Africa? Or does it only count if every single person in the country is "racist in their hearts" and open about that? Because sure, that's probably not a thing. However, if getting pulled over by people who work for this country for driving while Black is a part of Tim Scott's everyday life, then clearly something is wrong. Because it's not just the personal prejudice of cops that is the problem here, it's that we live in a society where it is reasonable for them to believe they will get away with it. That's why racism is frequently described as "prejudice plus power."
But I think Tim Scott knows this. I think he's well-aware of this, just as he's well-aware of the fact that Republicans do not and will never actually have any interest in working with Democrats on anything. It's a line he has to throw out because he hasn't got any other material.
Biden may have made a mistake when he promised "unity" — since promises that involve other people are frequently difficult to make good on — but so far, the fact that he has failed to achieve this is the only thing Republicans are leaning on to criticize, and it doesn't seem like anyone cares.
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Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse