Susan Rice debates highlight both Democratic and Republican racial hypocrisy

Boyce Watkins
Boyce Watkins

Susan Rice debates highlight both Democratic and Republican racial hypocrisy

 By Dr. Boyce Watkins

      Susan Rice hasn’t even been nominated to replace Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State, but Republicans act as though she has. The attacks are coming fast and furious (pun intended) but they are as misguided and inaccurate as the War in Iraq. Senators Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and John McCain of Arizona have already promised to block the confirmation of Rice. Another 100 House Republicans have signed a letter saying that nominating Rice would hurt American credibility in other countries.

     The whole center of Republican opposition revolves around statements made by Rice about the attacks in Benghazi over two months ago. The attack led to the death of US Ambassador Christopher Stevens, and three others. Rice initially stated that the attacks were spontaneous demonstrations against the American embassy in response to a ridiculous low budget video that had been placed on the Internet. Only Americans would be so arrogant as to think that Muslims are this stupid.

     The ironic thing about the Rice situation is that if making misleading remarks was reason for disqualification, the same would have happened to former Secretary of State Colin Powell, whose speech before the United Nations led to the war in Iraq. Some say that Powell, a Republican, should have been sent to the hills after such a blatant error. Additionally, former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice supported Powell’s false theory about Iraq, scaring the nation into the invasion.

      The comparisons of the actions between three African American Secretaries of State (two ironically being black women with the last name “Rice”), all of whom have served during the last decade, shows that the attacks on Rice are more about politics than race. Republicans are made to look hypocritical by going after Susan Rice and overlooking even worse decisions by Powell and Condoleeza.

     The debate also makes Democrats themselves look hypocritical for supporting Susan Rice while demonizing the other two black people in the same position. Additionally, Susan Rice’s misdirection is far less disconcerting than other problems with Benghazi, such as ignored security warnings that made those in the embassy vulnerable to attack.

     Susan Rice is as qualified as anyone for the job. She has a tremendous amount of foreign policy experience, starting as a staffer for the National Security Council in 1993. She was the US Ambassador to Libya in 2009 as well. Her experience makes her into a natural fit without all the immature, irrelevant debating that has come to define the selfish egomaniacs who work on Capitol Hill.

     Remarks by Rep. James Clyburn a Democratic Congressman from South Carolina, imply that some of the Republican opposition to Rice is racially-motivated. Clyburn argues that racial code language has been used to define Ms. Rice to be unqualified for the position. I don’t disagree with Clyburn entirely: We know that Republicans don’t tend to like black people unless they are working for them on their front porch.

     But here’s where Clyburn is getting it wrong: It’s easy to call a Republican a racist when he says something that we don’t like, but Clyburn, Al Sharpton and others barely say a peep when the racism is lofted by a fellow Democrat. Vice President Joe Biden has hurled enough racial insults to be an honorary member of the Tea Party, yet the negroes around him usually have nothing to say.

     So, here’s the deal: Neither the Democrats nor the Republicans have the right to call one another racist. Divisions of race are typically trumped by party line affiliations, and both parties love the black people that are giving them support. So, rather than trying to morph the Susan Rice debate into a Spike Lee/Malcolm X/Jim Crow discussion, why don’t we just see if she’s qualified for the job?

     Democrats should defend Susan based on her qualifications and stop playing the race card. Republicans need to stop using the Benghazi tragedy as a political weapon and focus on ways to make our diplomats safer. Any other kind of political nonsense is both counter productive and ultimately unAmerican.

     Dr. Boyce Watkins is a Finance Professor at Syracuse University and author of the book, “Black American Money.

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