April 30th, 2014
02:45 PM ET
9 years ago

Rep. Thompson doubles down on racial remarks in interview with CNN's Dana Bash

(CNN) - In an exclusive interview with CNN Chief Congressional Correspondent Dana Bash, Rep. Bennie Thompson doubled down on controversial remarks he made about race over the weekend.

The Mississippi Democrat had argued Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, a black conservative, is an "Uncle Tom" who doesn't stand up for African Americans.

In his interview with the New Nation of Islam webcast on Sunday, which was first reported by BuzzFeed, the eleven-term African American argued President Barack Obama has been mistreated by other politicians, including Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, because he is black.

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Here's the interview between Bash and Thompson:

Bash: When you said Clarence Thomas was an "Uncle Tom," what did you mean by that?

Thompson: "Well if you look at his decisions on the court, they have been adverse to the minority community, and the people I represent have a real issue with an African American not being sensible to those issues."

Bash: Isn't that a racially charged term?

Thompson: "For some it is, but to others it's the truth."

Bash: Because looking at that and hearing that kind of language, that certainly wouldn't be appropriate if it was coming from somebody who was white.

Thompson: "But I'm black."

Bash: That makes it OK?

Thompson: "I mean, you're asking me the question, and I'm giving you a response. The people that I represent, for the most part, have a real issue with those decisions–voter ID, affirmative action, Affordable Care Act–all those issues are very important and for someone in the court who's African American and not sensitive to that is a real problem."

Bash: The other thing you were talking about is the fact that you believe some of the opposition, maybe even much of the opposition, to the president is because of the color of his skin.

Thompson: "Well, I've been here a long time. I've seen a lot of issues come before Congress. I've never seen the venom put forth on another candidate or a president like I've seen with this president and that's my opinion."

Bash: Are there specific things that people have said that are racially tinged that make you say that, or are you reading the tea leaves of what's going on?

Thompson: "I've seen quite a few State of the Union messages, I've never heard a president called a liar in a State of the Union message."

Bash: You think Congressman Joe Wilson was race based?

Thompson: "Well, I've never heard it before, it was a stupid decision...statement, but it has no real bearing."

Bash: last question, just broadly...Where do you think the Republican Party is right now on issues of race? You have younger people who are trying to reach out to the African American community. Do you see things changing?

Thompson: "You always see a change when you see the policies change, when you see programs that have been beneficial to the survival to African Americans in this country being cut, whether it's Head Start, nutrition programs, educational programs, job training programs. It's hard to demonstrate that you care about people when the programs that they hold closest to their survival are being put on the chopping block."

Bash: Were Mitch McConnell's comments were racist?

Thompson: "It had nothing to with that. The comments are insensitive. To say to a president that you're going to oppose anything that he puts out there is just totally..."

Bash: You think it was race based?

Thompson: "Well I've never heard him say it to any other president."

Filed under: Congress
soundoff (65 Responses)
  1. ThinkAgain: Don't like Congress? Get rid of the repub/tea bag majority.

    What do Justices Roberts, Thomas, Scalia, Alito and Kennedy all have in common?

    They are all conservative Catholics, who believe in a top-down, patriarchial system where monied interests have more influence and control than the average person. Minorities don't count as much, women don't count as much, the poor don't count as much, Lord knows LGBT don't count as much. White men in charge is the right way to go, because the rest of us don't deserve to have a say and can't be trusted.

    Keeping this in mind explains a lot about their efforts to magnify the influence of the rich in our election and to disenfranchise voters.

    April 30, 2014 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  2. salty dog

    Musty, the difference, disgust for George was universal, and still is, the comparison of disrespect towards the presidency is undeniable, to sane people anyways.

    April 30, 2014 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  3. Cliff Barnes

    Frances Underwood would have never said that.

    April 30, 2014 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  4. Lynda/Minnesota

    "You will NOT turn around and smirk and say that we're playing the race card while you say and act in ways that are disgusting and against the Christian principles that you so love to spew."

    Pathetic aren't they? I mean seriously. Their stupidity shows no bounds when they spend 3/4 of their time and effort blogging blah blah blah against those they perceive as "inferior" to themselves.

    And yes. I could name names ... truthfully though. We know who they are. Whether they admit it or not is their problem to live with.

    April 30, 2014 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  5. Wake Up People! Many Rivers to cross.....

    Clarence Thomas the "Uncle Ruckus" of the USSC! He's a disgrace!

    April 30, 2014 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  6. ThinkAgain: Don't like Congress? Get rid of the repub/tea bag majority.

    I was at Costco over the weekend and saw a man wearing a t-shirt of President Obama pictured as the Joker from Batman. He was lumbering by with his wifey walking a couple steps behind him. I didn't say anything to him only because I was so angry I didn't trust myself to not just tell him to go eff himself. I later saw him drive off in his beater truck with a "Proud to be the parent of a new hunter" bumper sticker on the back.

    So, all you Democratic voters out there, you want this pig and his ilk to retain the House and possibly take over the Senate? I sure as heck don't – so on November 4, 2014 GET OUT AND VOTE!

    April 30, 2014 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  7. Bert Lahr

    I couldn't care less about Thomas's self loathing. What I find amazing is that this Supreme Court Judge, this pillar of society has a wife who runs a conservative "Think Tank" and is an aggressive right wing activist. No conflict of interest there?

    April 30, 2014 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  8. Rudy NYC


    A racist is a person who thinks their race is supreme. A racist is NOT a person who disagrees with or dislikes dems, liberals, or Obama. A reverse racist is a person who think a person from another race hates them because of their race when there is no proof or evidence to make such a claim.
    Your definitions would suggest that Thompson's remarks are not racist. It seems that the "Uncle Tom" reference is not all that different from the "RINO" tag name. Some conservatives throw that word around all the time to describe people whose views are not as extreme as their own. I don't see this as really being any different.

    April 30, 2014 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  9. Jackson, MS Resident

    Hey, Bennie, you represent me – and I found your comments to be racist. Now run along and come up with some better excuses, bud.

    April 30, 2014 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  10. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Clarence "Anita Hill" Thomas.
    A class act........Bwahahahahahahahahahaha.......

    April 30, 2014 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  11. MattL

    So someone said:

    "So what I gather is that its ok for this gentleman to use a racially derisive remark against a fellow black who happens to be conservative, but if a white does its racist? Can we say double standard?"

    Which is basically what Dana Bash asked. This is an often brought up question, most by white people (I'm white myself).

    People usually avoid answering it... but I think a fair answer is that if you are white and call someone black an uncle tom, it looks very racist. You may not in fact be a racist, but people have in fact made that same accusation and be obviously racist.

    If you are black and say it then it seems less likely you are racist, unless you hate yourself or are also racist against yourself.

    Now that sort of comment is never classy, but not necessarily racist no matter who says it... the comment doesn't imply all black people are a certain way, that would be racist... it implies a racist enabling black person more or less. If thats how you feel about someone then fine, but it doesn't mean it's racist (again you have to understand what the term racist means).

    April 30, 2014 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  12. What?

    So Bennie is mad because Clarence is raising the bar for "his" people? Lets call him an "Uncle Tom" because he's against Federal handouts...hmmm...

    April 30, 2014 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  13. Rudy NYC

    Jackson, MS Resident

    Hey, Bennie, you represent me – and I found your comments to be racist. Now run along and come up with some better excuses, bud.
    Why would calling someone who is a member of his own race "Uncle Tom" racist? Do you even know what the reference actually means? How is that label any different from some conservatives calling others with less extreme views "RINOs"? There isn't any significant difference.

    April 30, 2014 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  14. Lynda/Minnesota

    @ ThinkAgain

    I've met of few of those you witnessed in your comment. Makes me ill just reliving the experience of acknowledging them as house guests.

    April 30, 2014 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  15. welcane

    The color of one's skin has nothing to do with political affiliation. Citizens can be Dem, Rep, Libertarian or any other third party or Ind. Thompson should remove his bias and focus on improving his own character.

    April 30, 2014 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
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