The Scrapbook did not expect that the New York Times would express much joy at the appointment of Rep. Tim Scott of South Carolina to the Senate seat vacated by Jim DeMint. Mr. DeMint is a conservative Republican, Mr. Scott is a conservative Republican, and the governor who anointed Scott, Nikki Haley, is a conservative Republican, too.
And the truth be told, The Scrapbook would prefer to underplay the “historic” nature of Scott’s ascent to the Senate. Yes, he is the first black Republican in the upper chamber since Edward Brooke (1979) and the only African American in the Senate at all; and he assumes the seat once held by Strom Thurmond, the 1948 Dixiecrat candidate for president. The times they are a-changin’ and all that; but it is nearly a half-century since the passage of the Civil Rights Act, and we just reelected a black president. Time marches on.
No, The Scrapbook welcomes Tim Scott to the Senate not because of the color of his skin but because he is Tim Scott: a successful businessman-turned-conservative-politician of particular skill and widespread appeal.
We can understand the consternation of the Times, under the circumstances. A new Republican star in the Senate is bad news, as far as the Times is concerned, and they are welcome to their point of view. Unfortunately, that is not the way they chose to express their consternation. Last week the Times published an op-ed essay on Tim Scott’s appointment entitled “The Puzzle of Black Republicans” by a University of Pennsylvania political scientist named Adolph L. Reed Jr. Reed is an old campus Trotskyite and veteran radical who has plied his trade at a series of prestigious institutions—Emory, Northwestern, Yale, now Penn—and, no surprise, sees Tim Scott as a “cynical token” whose appointment is “directed . . . at whites who are inclined to vote Republican but don’t want to have to think of themselves, or be thought of by others, as racist.”
He compares Scott to various prominent black Republicans—“the archconservative Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas,” among others—as well as white supremacists from South Carolina’s past, and makes what he considers a pertinent point that all black Republican members of Congress in -modern times (Scott, Gary Franks, J. C. Watts, Allen West) “were elected from majority-white districts.”
Of course, this tells us considerably more about Adolph L. Reed Jr. and the New York Times than it does about the fact that there are African Americans in politics who are not Democrats. That is to say, Scott and his colleagues have successfully appealed to a cross-section of the electorate rather than the sort of racially segregated constituency that Professor Reed appears to prefer. Alas, this is the modern Democratic party in a nutshell: Biology is destiny, and blacks in politics who do not conform to a rigid left-wing ideology are “tokens.”
From The Scrapbook’s perspective, Tim Scott will not be a black delegate to the black encampment in Congress but the United States senator from South Carolina. And we wish him well. Of course, we’re sorry that the New York Times clings to blood rather than brains when pondering the politics of African Americans. But we’re also thankful to the Times, and to Prof. Adolph L. Reed Jr., for depicting so vividly the racist dogma of the left.