Last month, Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele caused a media firestorm when he candidly confessed that African-Americans “really don’t have a reason” to vote Republican. “[W]e haven’t done a very good job of really giving you one,” he added, before admitting that the GOP has employed a race-based “southern strategy” for the past forty years. “[H]ere you have the chairman of the Republican National Committee saying, in effect, that liberals are right to have argued that Republicans have used race for political gain for the last four decades,” the Washington Post’s Greg Sargent noted.
But Steele struck a completely different tone in a recent interview with the Atlanta Post, saying the GOP is “the political home” of African-Americans:
And so that idea of President Lincoln as one of the founders of the party, to me, ties us back to those very roots. It is the birthplace of black political activism. It is the political home, if you will, for African-Americans. So as much as you want to go out and dance with Democrats, you do that all day long, but at the end of the day, you still have that place called home.
Steele also denied that the tea party movement is “hostile to the black community,” saying that claim is “unfortunate and it’s just plain wrong.” Steele said the notion has been “perpetrated by some in the media,” and explained, “I’ve met with a number of African- American Tea Party members.”
Steele went on to praise civil rights leader Malcolm X, saying, “I also relate to Malcolm X and that style and that side that says ‘by any means necessary’”:
I can work with conventional wisdom up to a point. I can work with the Washington sages up to a point. But then I get to a point where [I feel] we need something different by any means necessary. We need to do something that’s going to shake us to our roots and wake us up to the new reality we are in.
It’s worth noting that the right would likely find offense if President Obama made a similar remark. Malcolm X is considered “extreme” by many conservatives. Right-wing pundits like Fox News host Glenn Beck and radio host Rush Limbaugh have referenced
Malcolm X to suggest Obama is a “radical,” “angry black guy.”