Republicans just can’t help reminding blacks why they should not consider voting for them, at least not seriously. In a Fox News interview, former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld compared President Barack Obama to a “trained ape” for his failure to sign an agreement with Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai on the number of US troops allowed to remain in Afghanistan after 2014 to help with security.
“A trained ape could get a status of forces agreement. It does not take a genius. And we have so mismanaged that relationship,” said Rumsfeld.
While I agree Obama’s retreat from the world stage has virtually neutered America’s influence globally in conflicts like Syria, Iran, and Crimea, comparing the first black president to a trained ape is just in the poorest of taste. Since slavery, racists have compared blacks to monkeys, gorillas, apes and called blacks derogatory names like nigger, coon, and darkies. After Obama’s election, more than a few Republican politicians have compared him, his family, and other blacks to animals.
I don’t think the intention of Rumsfeld’s remarks was racist but he may as well have compared the president to a “trained darkie” because his comments sounded racist. A white conservative friend of mine observed, “It just sounds racist. That’s probably not what Rumsfeld meant but the president is black.”
“United States diplomacy has been so bad—so embarrassingly bad,” Rumsfeld said. That’s accurate and Rumsfeld comments on Obama’s foreign policy in Afghanistan should have been more in line with this tone. Instead he just said spoke without thinking about the implications of comparing a black president to an ape.
That’s the fundamental problem with many carrying the banner in today’s Republican Party. They are so dismissive of and out of touch with the race culturally, that people like Rumsfeld don’t understand why blacks would find such a remark offensive. Even if he didn’t mean it as racist.
Fresh off the heels of the Republican National Committee’s one-year anniversary of its Growth & Opportunity Project to attract more minority voters, Rumsfeld’s comment is more proof the GOP isn’t serious about inclusion or winning future presidential elections. Comments like his are just the distraction the media loves to report on instead of Obama’s failed leadership at home and abroad.