I was happy to see that several conservative commentators have recently pointed out that Harry Reid’s comments were not actually racist, and that expanding the definition of racism in order to attack him, is a dangerous game for conservatives to play. I made similar points here and here. Here is prominent black conservative Ward Connerly, writing in the Wall Street Journal:
For my part, I am having a difficult time determining what it was that Mr. Reid said that was so offensive.
Was it because he suggested that lighter-skinned blacks fare better in American life than their darker brothers and sisters? If so, ask blacks whether they find this to be true. Even the lighter-skinned ones, if they are honest with themselves, will agree that there is a different level of acceptance.
Was it because he used the politically incorrect term “negro”? If so, it should be noted that there are many blacks of my generation who continue to embrace this term. In fact, “negro” is an option along with “black” and “African-American” on the 2010 Census.
Was it because he implied that Mr. Obama might be cut some political slack because of his oratorical skills or his looks? If so, that fact was not harmful to Joe Biden, who was elected vice president after praising Mr. Obama as “articulate” and “clean-looking.”
Or, finally, could it be viewed as offensive that Mr. Reid suggested that blacks often have a distinctive way of speaking? If that is, indeed, the offense, then I will offend a lot of individuals when I assert that I can tell in probably 90% of the cases whether an individual is black merely by talking to him on the telephone.
In short, this incident does not rise to the level that it prompts me to