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. yolanda

    Sterling is an idiot. This clown is an idiot. The fact that he did an interview with The New Nation of Islam pretty much sums it up.

    April 30, 2014 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  2. smith1

    he is right.

    April 30, 2014 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  3. Concerned Educator, Mississippi

    I'm glad Congressman Thompson was not being political correct and told the truth. Now, have there been disagreements with former presidents? Of course, however, under the Obama Administration, it has been over the top. Asked to reveal his birth certificate, called a liar before a joint session of Congress, and that's naming a few.

    April 30, 2014 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  4. The Real Tom Paine

    @yolanda, and when someone is interviewed by Matt Drudge or Sean Hannity, that pretty much sums up how much of an idiot they are. Cliven Bundy ring a bell?

    April 30, 2014 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  5. Vince

    I don't understand the controversy. I don't see anything false in what he said.

    April 30, 2014 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  6. Jeff

    Maybe he should be fired!!!

    April 30, 2014 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  7. Al-NY,NY

    idiot. he doesn't make anything easier with this inflammatory rhetoric. It only gives the yahoos on the right the ammo they want

    April 30, 2014 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  8. Babyboomer

    What was Dana Bash trying to accomplish with these questions. Kinda looks like she was trying to take the focus off of the latest racist rants by Bundy and Sterling by questioning Rep. Thompson this way. What she doesn't get is this. Had Bundy made negative comments about people of his own race, that wouldn't have even made the news. Thompson remarks were about another person of color. Why did that make the news??? Even if she can't see the difference, I can. Facts are facts and the fact is, Clarence Thomas has done more to hurt African Americans then help. Thurgood Marshall is probably spinning in his grave...

    April 30, 2014 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  9. M

    You know a culture has a disastrous problem afflicting it when someone who is well spoken, educated, intelligent, successful, polite, and classy is looked down upon as an "Uncle Tom" by the rest of those that make up that culture.

    April 30, 2014 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |

    Most republicans ARE bigots, just look at GOP southern governors TRYING to disenfranchise voters of color in the south , ALL GOP CLOWNS!!!!

    April 30, 2014 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  11. salty dog

    Like it or not yolanda, he's spot on, I've never seen such contempt spoken so adamantly towards any president.

    April 30, 2014 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  12. Rudy NYC

    Clarence Thomas has sold himself out. He has hurt Americans, black and white alike. For example, seeing how his WIFE worked for the lead group behind the Citizens United decision, don't you think that he should have recused himself from the case? No, of course, not. He's a morally superior being, also a known as a conservative, who would never let personal bias and self-interests get in the way of making a fair and balanced decision.

    April 30, 2014 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  13. s

    Its kind of like wearing a black face, as a white man I could never do it and have it be anything but ugly, A black man on the other hand could wear it to be funny or make a point. I realize what I just stated is not fair but that is reality. To me its fine that a black man uses the phrase "Uncle Tom" in this setting.

    April 30, 2014 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  14. it must be said

    So all black people must all think the same and realize there is one and only one solution to any "black issue", the approved solution that all other black people subscribe to. Anything else is unacceptable and traitors will be whipped, I mean met with the Uncle Tom label. That way everybody can be kept on the plantation, i mean, in line.

    So if this type of strict race based approach is OK with blacks, why are white people crucified for advocating the same approach for white people? Isn't racism racism? Or is there good black racism and bad white racism?

    How long am I going to be subjected to the racism of black people before I can stand up for my rights without being called a white racist?

    April 30, 2014 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  15. smith

    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.

    April 30, 2014 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  16. Chris-E...al

    Well just give everthing away for free and when its gone its gone then maybe he will be happy for a change . God 0bama is not doing right by nobody anyway . . Damn matter fact they all sux .

    April 30, 2014 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  17. Thomas

    Typical politician. It doesn't matter if it is race, wealth or class they come from a position of moral superiority. I voted democrat the last 2 elections because I could not stomach the republican alternative, but unless our party comes up with someone without all this baggage I am staying home next time.

    April 30, 2014 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  18. just asking

    so that's what a black racist looks like? he's a disgrace and should resign. i can't believe the democrats would harbor such a racist in their party.

    April 30, 2014 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  19. angus

    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?

    April 30, 2014 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  20. sonny chapman

    "I could never hope to understand & view things from a black person's perspective"-Dick Cheney, VP Debate,2000.

    April 30, 2014 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  21. WOW

    This guy is racist and has to go!

    April 30, 2014 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  22. Huh?

    Where I come from, after throwing the "Uncle Tom" card on Clarence Thomas, Rep. Thompson would be getting an invitation to step outside so we might discuss the matter further. But Clarence Thomas has too much class to do that. I am guessing Clarence Thomas in his early life had to endure this type of mistreatment from whites. Now, in the most recent part of his life, he is receiving similar derision from the African-American liberal establishment. This is the same liberal establishment that has presided over the collapse of African-American culture in the United States over the last 50 years.

    April 30, 2014 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  23. Blade

    Old Bennie! Dumb as a box of rocks...the pride of Bolton, MS

    April 30, 2014 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  24. Rudy NYC

    tom l wrote:

    So there you have it. Rudy who says he never calls anybody names yet can nuance it by throwing out insults. Way to go, Rudy. Rudy making things up to support his "story" and "facts". Firstly, Rudy says he never calls people names yet he refers to me as "little tom" and then calls me delusional and hate filled.
    Do you understand the difference between a noun and an adjective? I described some of the posts as delusional. Most especially ones like how tax cuts create jobs. -Oh, yeah. Let's not forget your definition of a liberal, and how the liberal mind works. That was priceless, you should go into the advertising and marketing business. Quit politics.

    April 30, 2014 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  25. HenryMiller

    "I'm glad Congressman Thompson was not being political correct and told the truth. Now, have there been disagreements with former presidents? Of course, however, under the Obama Administration, it has been over the top."

    That's because the way Obama wants to "fundamentally transform" this country is "over the top," far more so than any other Democrat in recent memory, and well and truly appalls many of us. Nothing to do with the colour of his skin, everything to do with the truly awful things he's trying to do to the country.

    April 30, 2014 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
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