Fresh off of his induction into Congress' upper chamber, Sen. Tim Scott fired back at NAACP president Ben Jealous, who stated on CNN that Scott doesn't "believe in" civil rights. From Greta Van Susteren's Fox News program last night:
If you click through to the YouTube page, the very first commenter calls Scott a "Nazi" and an "Uncle Tom." Lovely. This is the brand of invective that conservatives of color regularly endure from the self-appointed titans of tolerance. The Senator comes across as reasonable, cheerful and passionate throughout his conversation with Greta. He shrugs off Jealous' slander with grace and composure, a feat I'm not sure I could accomplish. (I might be slightly more inclined to borrow John Boehner's turn of phrase, given the implications of what Jealous said). He slaps aside the accusation as "ridiculous" and "baseless," but uses most of his airtime to promote conservative values. Rather than exploiting the segment as an opportunity to vent some (justifiable) indignation, he stays upbeat and positive:
VAN SUSTEREN: All right, what do you make of the NAACP? He says, the president, that you don't believe in civil rights.
SCOTT: I think it's ridiculous.
VAN SUSTEREN: Why does he say that?
SCOTT: Well, I mean, I think the -- the -- some folks really want to find a way to make race more of a part of their conversation going forward, and I think that it's time for us to continue to move forward as a nation. If you really think about where we are, we have the most diverse freshman class in the Senate perhaps in its history. America has made amazing steps forward, and we will continue to make steps forward as we focus on those issues that bring us together. Economic freedom is a real opportunity in this nation for a lot of folks. The way we get there is by making sure that family incomes go up while government spending goes down.
VAN SUSTEREN: Do you think he would have said that if were you a Democrat, or do you think that this is truly based on your voting record as a member of the House of Representatives?
SCOTT: Well, certainly, there's no doubt that one of the things I realized is that folks like Mr. Jealous believe that a larger government somehow means more freedom. I just complete completely disagree.
VAN SUSTEREN: So is that why you think that he says that to you? That -- I mean, OK, there's size of government and there's civil rights. He's hitting you for civil rights.
SCOTT: Yes. It's baseless, but at the end of the day, if you find a way to perhaps fund-raise off this election process for the -- for some folks, maybe that's a good thing for them, but it's not a good thing for the country ... Once again, it's almost laughable. Unfortunately, some people take it pretty seriously. The way I really look at it, honestly, is that we have some serious issues and some serious opportunities, and I want to focus on the serious opportunities to move moving people forward. I think about the fact that here I am sitting here, having this conversation with you, a kid growing up in a single-parent household, a mom who believed in a future that I could not see, a mentor that came along and taught me very simple business principles. And it works! It works! And if we were to unleash free markets throughout this country, if we would address the antiquated system that we have on taxation, if we would lower our corporate taxes, we'd see prosperity in this nation in a way that we haven't seen in a long time. We have an opportunity to inspire Americans, and yet we're going to have to have a conversation about the lowest common denominator of fear.
It appears the people of South Carolina have themselves a very fine junior United States Senator.