Not Offensive At All


From TPM Reader JF

Dear Josh,

I’m disappointed with your post on Reid’s now-famous remark.

You state that “Reid’s was an offensive remark.” That is just not true.

Even George Will can see that Reid’s remark was not offensive at all (I’m sure you’ve watched the video of him arguing with Liz Cheney on this point).

It’s true that “Negro” is archaic, and shouldn’t be used. But that doesn’t make Reid’s remark “offensive.” Far from it. (And I don’t know what on earth you mean by “race-tinged.” How is it “tinged”? The comment is _about_ race.)

Calling Reid’s comment racist and offensive is part of something much bigger. Reid was calling out American racism. He was saying — correctly — that America is a nation that does not easily elect a black President, because we are still a fairly racist country, and that Obama had a better chance than most black candidates because of his skin color and way of speaking. This is a (true) comment about racism in America. The right LOVES to argue that pointing out racism in America is racist. (“We are shocked, shocked. How DARE you suggest that America is racist? Certainly none of my friends are racist. Maybe you ‘liberal elites’ are, but we’re not.” That’s basically the gist of Liz Cheney’s commentary today on this topic.)

In other words, the right is on a mission to argue that people who complain about or notice racism are racist.

If they can’t call such a comment racist, they at least want the media to call it a “racial” remark, as though that’s a bad thing one step shy of racist, rather than being a neutral description of any commentary about race. When you say “race-tinged” I hear the same thing — you’re unintentionally supporting a narrative in which calling out racism in America is “racial” or “race-tinged” or ultimately “racist.”

Please don’t feed this monster! Listen to George Will for once.


Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of