N.Y. Rep. Rangel’s Ignorant Comments Force Me to Agree With Michele Bachmann — Sort Of

charles_rangelYou know, Republicans (especially tea party Republicans) act with enough outlandish ignorance that Democrats really don’t need to “go off the deep end” when referencing these people.

Unfortunately, New York Representative Charlie Rangel apparently felt the need to do so.

And while I understand the context for which he was speaking, his actual comments are inexcusable.

Rangel told the Daily Beast:

“It is the same group we faced in the South with those white crackers and the dogs and the police.  They didn’t care about how they looked. It was just fierce indifference to human life that caused America to say enough is enough.  ‘I don’t want to see it and I am not a part of it.’  What the hell! If you have to bomb little kids and send dogs out against human beings, give me a break.”

He also went on to say that Republicans are trying to “sabotage” America.

While I agree that many Republicans are trying to sabotage our country and that racism is prevalent within the GOP (especially the tea party), Mr. Rangel’s comments are simply tasteless.

I don’t care if you’re talking about the tea party or not, you don’t refer to people as “white crackers.”  Rep. Rangel’s comments are proof that Democrats can be guilty of making racially charged comments just as Republicans can.

Now, Michele Bachmann is calling on him to apologize to the tea party.

First, I agree he should make some kind of public apology.  Not that it will mean a whole lot — he obviously meant what he said and a forced apology doesn’t change that fact, but it’s what you must do as a public figure after such outlandish comments.

But for her of all people to “demand” an apology from someone for ridiculous comments?  Please.

This woman is being investigated for major ethics violations and currently holds a 75% “Pants on Fire” rating from Politifact. She shouldn’t be demanding that anyone apologize for unscrupulous behavior or over-the-top statements.

But she’s right in believing that what he said was tasteless.  Radical comments like these from Mr. Rangel are something I expect from tea party Republicans, not a Democrat in Congress who’s served continuously since 1971.

And while his personal feelings are his to feel, and again an apology won’t mean he’s sorry about anything he said, it’s just disappointing that a man with his tenure and stature would say something so blatantly ignorant.

Even if some of what he said has some merit, he should have better tact for getting his point across — something he clearly lacked here.

So while I’m ashamed of Representative Rangel’s comments, and agree with Michele Bachmann that they were something that we should view negatively, she’s the last person in Congress that should tell anyone they should apologize for saying something ridiculous.

Because if she had to apologize for all of the off the wall, tasteless comments she’s made in her few years in office — we’d be here all day.

Allen Clifton

Allen Clifton is a native Texan who now lives in the Austin area. He has a degree in Political Science from Sam Houston State University. Allen is a co-founder of Forward Progressives and creator of the popular Right Off A Cliff column and Facebook page. Be sure to follow Allen on Twitter and Facebook, and subscribe to his channel on YouTube as well.


Facebook comments

  • Fadil Mazrekaj

    Formul imer Erste

  • LadyeCatte

    Like HELL he owes anyone an apology! These asshats have been using the n-word with abandon these last six years, lately substituting the euphemism “thug” so as not to be called out.

    Mr. Rangel’s heard this bullsh*t his entire life. He can’t be blamed for getting to a point where he’s as forthright in revealing his thoughts as the Teabaggers are in their rabid histrionics of ‘food stamp President’, ‘Obamaphone’, ‘foreign-born Muslim’ and the myriad other inanities they regularly regurgitate.

    What he said is the TRUTH.

    If the mealy-mouthed Ms. Bachmann (and others) thinks he is wrong, she is welcome to publicly debate the problem, promising to NOT run away down a hall again when she’s on the ropes, refusing to give a direct answer to a direct question. The time for this honest debate we’ve been heading towards is now.

    She’s so sure an apology needs to be made, she should make herself available to hear it in person once the discussion is over.

    • Thank you, LadyeCatte. Well put. That is exactly what I thought when I read this.

    • RoughRugger

      Two wrongs don’t make a right, and sinking to their level is NOT a productive way to make one’s point.

      • Sam Mattingly

        This is not sinking to their level – this calling them out for the racists that they are. Enough is enough!!

      • RoughRugger

        Calling them out is one thing (and a good thing) but doing so using racial slurs IS sinking to their level. Take the high road & call them racists or bigots all you want, but keep it clean and aboveboard and those not a part of “our side” are much more likely to sympathize with us.

    • katherine norton malek

      Amen. Bachman’s NEVER apologized for any bit of verbal vomit she spewed! She needs to apologize to humanity for breathing & taking up precious air (you jnow, the one with the good carbon monoxide) Pfft! Self righteous ignorant bioche that she is is.

      • Sam Mattingly

        I so agree.

    • jbarelli

      Ms Bachmann’s comments reflect her lack of character. Yes, they’re offensive and her supporters are more offensive than she is.

      Mr. Rangel’s comments not only reflect upon himself (and not well) but they reflect on all liberals and progressives. If we don’t hold ourselves to the standards that we demand (and rarely get) from the Tea Party, it is not only going to be used as evidence that we’re hypocrites, but it’s actually valid evidence.

      “They do it too” and “they started it” are not valid reasons for us to follow their lead. They’re the reasoning of a grade school playground, rather than the reasoning of mature adults. Mr. Rangel’s comments were out of line and folks more interested in good government than keeping score will be willing to say so.

      • Votedem

        You are right, jbarelli.

      • Sam Mattingly

        If he was telling a lie I would agree, but the fact is that he is telling a truth some of you would conveniently ignore. Well I say time to speak truth to power. Today, I am proud of Charlie Rangel for standing up to these bullies and calling them out. The truth hurts doesn’t it?

      • jbarelli

        He’s generalizing and polarizing people, which is what the Tea Party is doing. Want evidence of that? Read your own post. See if you can find the irony there.

        Is the term “cracker” as offensive as some of what the Tea Party says? No, of course not. But it is a matter of degree, rather than of type. It’s a term that denigrates a whole group of people by race. (Yes, I’ve heard white folks claim that they don’t mean all blacks when they use that other racially offensive term. I don’t buy it from them, and won’t buy that argument from Mr. Rangel.)

        And if some folks are good with denigrating a group of people based on race, then the difference between them and the Tea Party folks that are waving Confederate flags is not a difference of type, simply a difference of race. Two sides of a bad coin.

      • LadyeCatte

        (in reply to your comment below) Okay.. WHAT is it exactly that bothers you about what he said? Specifically– If he’d not uttered the ‘white cracker’ pejorative, would you have received his words more readily?
        Would you also look back at the people he was referring to during the CRM and say THEY shouldn’t be lumped into one big, malodorous ball of racist dreck? Those that are standing with the Republicans seeking to bar voting for nonwhites, seeking out everything that seems to be Afrocentric and crushing it, etc– how are they different? Because they’re not (openly) condoning the murder or more CR workers?

        I’m sleepy or I’d be more coherent.

      • LadyeCatte

        Ordinarily, I’d agree with you. In normal circumstances, I, too, would advocate a bit of temperance and a lot of biting of the tongue, but.. dammit, I feel for the man! I’ve only had a
        smidgen of what he’s living all these decades, and I’m mad enough for a lot of people.
        So I can honestly say I know of what I speak when I say he was long overdue to scream.

        For this one time, this one man, I’m just going to sit back,
        smile, and hum the last few passages of Kenny Rogers’ “Coward Of The County”.

      • jbarelli

        You have found what is perhaps the one argument in Mr. Rangel’s favor. I still don’t agree with what he said, but the many names he’s been called over many years make his anger and frustration more than understandable.

        Unfortunately, those same words of frustration and that same justified anger will be used to undermine his (and our) goals of getting to a more just and equitable society, and our silence will further the cause of our opponents.

        Mr. Rangel knows the power of words, and certainly knows that his words don’t reflect his true feelings about any person of good will, regardless of color, but that they will be used to excuse racist comments from people who are not of good will.

        There is honor and dignity in admitting a mistake, no matter the justification. Not one of those “I’m sorry you were offended” apologies so popular with the right, but something along the lines of “Wrong is wrong. That sort of label should never have passed my lips, and never will again.”

        Do I understand his anger and frustration? Thankfully, I cannot fully do so because I haven’t lived through what he has. But what he said was still wrong, regardless of the justification.

    • Pam_L

      I totally agree one thousand percent!

  • Desertmer

    Good god are you equating ‘cracker’with ‘nigger’. What are you nuts???? Rangel is a tax dodger and ought to be gone but what he said on this topic is right on target. He owes no one an apology.if ‘cracker’ offends you as a white man you need to visit a therapist because you are entirely too touchy Allen! And what is up with all the right winger opinions from you today? Did you have some epiphany that you were on the wrong ‘side’???

    • John E. Conway

      You need to look up the history of the term. Yes, it is just as offensive.

      • Desertmer

        I don’t have to ‘look it up’ to know I am not offended by it. I am not a minority that has been discriminated against and therefore the word has no power over me whatsoever. BTW I know exactly where the term comes from and your comment is absurd .

      • John E. Conway

        I am sorry, no. A racial slur is a racial slur. We should not accept it just because we dont get hit with it very often. My comment was far from absurd, the only absurdity to me is that you seem to think that if we ignore the hate fro the people using this term, it will go away. But it doesn’t, it stews and grows. Anyone using racial slurs publicly like this is in the wrong. It has no place in our society. You don’t need to be a minority who has been discriminated against for the word to have power, only the right set of circumstances.

      • Desertmer

        It is , most emphatically NOT a racial slur Mr Conway. Perhaps it is you who do not know and/or understand the origin of the term. It is a word based on the historical racist behavior of white people in the south. Calling out racism is not racist. Probably closer to its opposite in fact. Have a bit of a deeper think on this and I am sure you will be enlightened as to the incorrectness of your thinking in this area.

      • John E. Conway

        OK, you have crossed over into fantasy land. Yes it is a racial slur. Let me guess, you are unaware that the term “gyped,” as in “I was gyped!” is a racial slur too? Just because “cracker” it is aimed at whites doesn’t mean it isn’t racist. You denying it is racist doesn’t make it so.

      • Desertmer

        Please explain how exactly it is racist.

      • jeffos

        It is not a racial term. You cannot even be serious about thinking that it comes from hate. If someone was whipping you and called them a whipper you would be correct. The word is not denegrating, it is describing. And only describing those who whip. Get it.

      • jeffos

        Second that.

      • Dianne Hornick

        I know the history of the term and it is NOT any where near as offensive. The “crackers” were the one cracking the whips and beating poor slaves. How in the hell is that offensive?

      • Guest

        Shameful maybe, but not offensive…

    • motherunit

      It’s the republican fake outrage again. Always looking for something to be butt-hurt over.

  • Aonewhoknows

    You’re kidding, right? first of all, he didn’t call the teabaggers ‘white crackers’ , he compared their mentality to them. Second, how about an apology from limbaugh, beck, nugent, Bachmann, Romney and palin for all the racist comments from them for the past 7 years? If anyone needs to apologize just for existing is this lot!

  • SCWood

    Having grown up in the North, and lived in the south in the 50s and the 70s – they ARE ‘white crackers’ – I know some of them, I’m even closely related to some of them – ignorant white crackers – good grief – that’s NOTHING compared to what little I saw in the south, as an Anglo Saxon – my dark skinned friends co-worker at the bank being spit on in a ‘nice’ department store in Virginia, being called Nigger Lover for walking with dark skinned fellow WACS in Alabama, Coloured Water fountains in the Publix Market in Florida, reading Coming of Age in Mississippi, segregation everywhere….. those ‘Crackers’ are so ignorant – and I am a Peace and Social Justice major who recognizes being respectful of others and letting them have their say – but I do not equate – “crackers” describing people who are racist, with the horrific actions taken against people because they have dark skin.

    • SCWood

      Sometimes you just have to be able to call a cracker, a cracker.

      • John E. Conway

        So you are saying we should use racial slurs for all classes, when deemed appropriate, so nigger, spick, wetback, kike, gook, etc are all acceptable to you, under the right conditions? Because this falls into that category. Just because we dont see it turned against us very often doesn’t mean we should accept it. Hate is hate, and should not be tolerated in a civilized society.

      • RoughRugger

        EXACTLY. Just because one might think a slur is appropriate for “some people” in the group it refers to doesn’t mean it’s not a slur or not offensive.

      • jeffos

        If you call a theif a theif. You are not calling everyone that looks like them a theif. Just the theif. If you take offense at the term “CRACKER” you either do not know what it means or you are one.

      • Marshall Livingston

        well put – it’s the actions of that person – not the race – the use of the word in the wrong context miss the meaning… and in there ignorants twist the interpretation in time… why words mean different things at different times. is do to one fact – ignorant people. the south was under French and Spanish rule a long time – years before the first 13 became states…. slavey has a real history and it to predates the bullshit… all but one of the first 13 was base on just that, and they were white!

      • Marshall Livingston

        a what do you call a person that is a lower class, a slave to your control = a cracker is a employee of the slave master – today we call them white collar for most of the blue collar jobs are now overseas.

      • John E. Conway

        The historical usage and connotations of the word make it a racial slur. Just like the word gyped, which is a slur on gypsies. Saying that it is not more than calling a thief a thief is like saying not all black people are niggers; it doesn’t change the offensiveness of the word or its usage. Your lack of understanding of the word and its usage does not mean the rest of us have to accept it. Sorry you are upset by us calling someone out on something completely inappropriate. We really should be holding our leaders to higher standards, regardless of whether you believe it is a slur or not.

      • jeffos

        The term “Cracker” is akin to the term “Nazi”. It is not a racial slur. Not withstanding that most of the ones targeted by the term are of a specific race. the difference is obvious to me, since social justice has been 150 years late.

      • Marshall Livingston

        that’s what a nigger is – ignorant, low life… cracker – ignorant bully — in black and white….

  • ken

    I’m not sure that “white crackers” is that offensive a term. For me, it lacks power and institutional support for being a highly demeaning phrase. So what if Rangel used “white crackers” to describe white people who used dogs and water blasts to prevent civil rights marchers from moving forward, who bombed churches that had predominantly African-American parishioners, who lynched black people, who oppressed African Americans in so many ways? His historically based anger toward bigots is understandable and could righfully be stronger. His currently based anger toward modern-day bigots in the Tea Party is also understandable, given the Tea Party’s oppressive war on voting rights, women’s rights, gay rights, immigrants, students, and others.

  • Linda J Glick

    Whoa there, Allen! You are kidding, right? I think you are being too “White”!!

  • Richard Ellis

    Having lived in the Heart of Dixie in the early 60’s, I have vivid memories of the group that Rep. Rangel was referring to and the terms he used were considered appropriately descriptive for them at the time. Like today’s Teabaggers, the “white crackers” public displays of ignorance and hatred earned them their derogatory nickname. Much has changed here in the southland in fifty years, but much has not. I think that you are taking Rep. Rangel’s comments out of their historical context and judging him by today’s standards of political correctness is unfair.

  • Linda J Glick

    Rep Rangel has NO need to Apologize!!

  • Amy Black

    I’m fine with the term cracker. Actually, in Florida it means something entirely different, it refers to the cattle drivers with their bull whips, and anyone born in florida is considered a florida cracker. So maybe that’s why it doesn’t really offend me.

  • Mike Morrissey

    Playing Devil’s Advocate: According to a witness, Trayvon Martin used the word “cracker” (“creepy-ass cracker”) to describe George Zimmerman? Isn’t that just as bad? Or is the difference that Rangel is a public figure?

  • Arturo Saiz

    I would not be opposed to Michelle apologizing for even existing, personally I wouldn’t urinate on her if she were on fire……

  • Scott Bennett

    actually it would depend on what he understands the term “white cracker” to mean. One thing that I came away with from the whole Trayvon Martin trial was that Jeantel (sp.) in an appearance on the Piers Morgan show explained that within her community the term “cracker” was something applied to any unknown person (usually male, and usually white). It isn´t necessarily meant in a perjorative sense. And even if it were in this instance, out of his entire statement, that is the ONLY word/sentiment that might even remotely be construed negatively. Everything else was the absolute truth – sadly. And one could argue that as soon as Bachmann and the other Teapublicans apologize for their odious statements etc. then maybe, just maybe, they could even consider being on the receiving end.

  • patty

    I see no need to apologize. If someone calls me a white cracker it doesn’t bother me one bit. its only a name. all this stupidity over names is ridiculous.

  • Kerry Norton

    I’m not sure if “cracker” or even “white cracker” is a highly racist term. I’m a prog from the south and ignorant “white crackers” are abundant here. Hick and hillbilly are probably more derogatory. Though if he’d had said “those hillbilly hick crackers” I’d still have to agree with him.

  • shane98

    Not given the full context of his words, it’s difficult to draw a conclusion as to the level of culpability. However, hate speech should be either explained and/or apologized for, especially when disseminated by a public official.

  • pushkina

    I’m sorry. Please read the excellent article in Salon about how the Dixiecrats moved over into the Republican Party, thanks to Nixon. The Dixiecrats were exactly those white, racist folks in Birmingham and Selma, armed with dogs and high powered sniper rifles. Their movement was Nixon’s “Southern Strategy.” When Reagan came along, lee Atwater organized northern white ethnics, traditional Dems, to join; Atwater’s northern strategy.
    That coalition is driven by race hatred, economic jealousy, ignorance and just plain meanness at the change in US demographics that has left white folks no longer in the majority . And recently found audio reveals Atwater’s strategy to use Southern race rage, albeit with a new vocabulary twist.