While partisan jockeying is inextricable from the declarations of who and what is racist in my last post and this one, I’d like to focus on what we can learn from the headlines, no matter who says what.
As The Huff Post reports:
In oral arguments over the case Fisher v. the University of Texas Wednesday, [Supreme Court Justice Antonin] Scalia suggested African-American students would do better at “slower-track schools” than UT. He added that black students come from “lesser schools, where they do not feel that they’re being pushed ahead in classes that are too fast for them.”
“I don’t think it stands to reason that it’s a good thing for the University of Texas to admit as many blacks as possible,” Scalia said (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/harry-reid-scalia-racist_56698f1ae4b0f290e5221cbd).
Here is Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid’s response to Scalia: “These ideas that he pronounced yesterday are racist in application, if not intent.”
I had to stop and take a moment when I read this. Harry just disrupted the all too familiar script of public opinion, which takes something that someone said or did and (intentionally or not) turns it into a question of character, when, in fact, it’s really a question of what got said or done.
Reid went on to say that he couldn’t speak to Scalia’s intent, clearly making the point that whatever the intent, Scalia’s stated opinion has a real and racist impact.
And (note to the BuzzFeed staff) to further that point, the issue isn’t whether or not Scalia is a racist: it’s a matter of the ruling, not the person or their character.