During Wednesday’s House Oversight Committee hearing, President Trump’s former attorney, Michael Cohen, called him a racist. Republican members of the committee defended Trump, including Rep. Mark Meadows, who brought with him HUD official Lynne Patton, who is Black.
“You made some very demeaning comments about the president that Ms. Patton doesn’t agree with,” Meadows said to Cohen.
“I asked Lynne to come today in her personal capacity to actually shed some light. She says, that as a daughter of a man born in Birmingham, Ala., that there is no way that she would work for an individual who was racist.”
Meadows had Patton stand behind him as he refuted Cohen’s comments that Trump said Blacks were “too stupid” to vote him. Patton didn’t speak. She remained silent, just nodding.
Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) accused Meadows of using Patton as a “prop.”
“Just to make a note, Mr. Chairman: Just because someone has a person of color, a Black person working for them, does not mean they aren’t racist and it is insensitive that some would even say – the fact that someone would actually use a prop, a Black woman in this chamber, in this committee, is alone racist in itself.”
Meadows responded by essentially turning his family members, and the chairman himself, into props.
He seemed to truly believe, because he has people of color in his family and a Black best friend — committee chairman Rep. Elijah Cummings— that it would absolve him of racism.
Then he proceeded to call Tlaib’s comments racist.
A video shared on Twitter on Thursday shows Meadows telling voters in 2012 that he wanted to send Obama back to Kenya “or wherever it is.”
The stunt “just shows how ignorant Republicans are when it comes to race,” Karine Jean-Pierre, a senior adviser to the progressive political organizing group MoveOn.org, wrote on Twitter. “It’s also offensive and beyond the pale.”
“Reverse racism is a myth because it tries to ignore the fundamental question of who holds more power/privilege between the individuals/groups involved,” according to the Alberta Civil Liberties Research Centre.
In the film “Dear White People,” the point is made: You can’t cry racism if you’re the oppressor.
Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.), additionally condemned the administration’s racism: “Would you agree that someone could deny rental units to African-Americans, lead the birther movement, refer to the diaspora as ‘sh*t-hole countries,’ refer to white supremacists as ‘fine people,’ have a Black friend, and still be racist?,” Pressley asked of Cohen. Cohen replied, “Yes.”
Meadows insisted that comments be withdrawn from the record, regarding the discussion on the act of propping up Patton as racist, showing his own white fragility.
Tlaib later apologized, but didn’t need to:
“As a person of color in this committee, that’s how I felt in at that moment and I wanted to express that, but I am not calling the gentleman, Mr. Meadows, a racist for doing so, I’m saying, that in itself, it is a racist act.”
Rep. Brenda Lawrence called the prop up of Patton to nullify Trump’s racism “insulting.”
Yamiche Alcindor interviewed Patton after the exchange, and said: “To me, today was not about the color of my skin. Today was about two people who know the president equally and who disagree.”