WASHINGTON The Senate’s only Republican African American member mounted an eloquent defense of Attorney General nominee Sen. Jeff Sessions on Wednesday evening, shortly before the vote. He then read off a list of racial insults he said he’d been receiving because of this support.
Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., praised Sessions and called for healing over race in the United States. He noted how his grandfather was raised to understand that he was to step off the sidewalk when a white person neared, and never to look a white person in the eyes. Despite that, Scott said, he was now a member of one of the world’s most prestigious political bodies, and he was well-aware of the sacrifices many other African-Americans had made to make it possible for him to stand and give the speech he gave.
He even addressed a Senate ruckus this week as Republicans rebuked Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., for reading a letter by Coretta Scott King, Martin Luther King Jr.’s widow, that they deemed insulting and inappropriate.
"There is no doubt in my mind that the letter written by Coretta Scott King could and probably should be read by every member," Scott said.
Still, he said it was a mistake to cast Sessions as a racist without truly understanding the man’s character. He said he had taken the time to understand the nominee, and had been impressed. Scott said that a meeting he organized with Sessions in Charleston with African American pastors had convinced him and them that Sessions was fair minded, and differed from the racist portrait that had been drawn of him.
He also said it was a mistake to assume that conservative and racist are synonymous. As evidence, Wednesday he read a list of racial insults from what he described as liberals that he said he’s received through Twitter during the last couple weeks.
Scott said that as an African-American conservative, he’s long accepted that he’s going to be the insulted, and often in a vulgar manner.
"If you’re going to be a black conservative, you will be attacked," he said. "It comes with the territory."
He continued by noting: "I’m surprised by the lack of tolerance from the left."
He said that too often, members of the left chide him for not understanding the experience of African Americans in America. He said that after he one day leaves the Senate, "I will still be black."
People sent messages calling him "an Uncle Tom," "a house negro," "a white man in a black man’s body," "a disgrace to the black race," "a black man who is racist against black people" and more.
"I’ve left out all the ones that used the ‘n’ word," he said. "I felt those wouldn’t be appropriate."