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Black Activists Condemn Senate Leader Harry Reid Playing the Race Card in Health Care Debate

Written by Nat'l Center for Public Policy Research

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Washington D.C.: Recent race-related comments made by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) are highly offensive and historically inaccurate, say members of the Project 21 black leadership group.

"Harry Reid has resorted to the most shopworn trick in the liberal playbook. He deployed the race card in the ugliest way while debating health care reform," said Deroy Murdock, a Project 21 member and a media fellow with the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace at Stanford University. "It is astonishing and outrageous to equate those who seek the defeat of Reid's 2,074-page, $2.5 trillion legislative monstrosity with those who were happy to keep blacks in chains, unpaid for their back-breaking labor and traded back and forth like cattle. The fact that Reid would use such deplorable, insulting and insensitive rhetoric indicates that he is out of credible arguments to defend his own proposal."

On the floor of the Senate on December 7, Reid compared those who oppose his legislation to increase government control of medical care to those in the past who opposed slavery and civil rights. Reid said:

"Instead of joining us on the right side of history, all the Republicans can come up with is, 'slow down, stop everything, let's start over.' If you think you've heard these same excuses before, you're right. When this country belatedly recognized the wrongs of slavery, there were those who dug in their heels and said 'slow down, it's too early, things aren't bad enough' ...When women spoke up for the right to speak up, they wanted to vote, some insisted they simply, slow down, there will be a better day to do that, today isn't quite right... When this body was on the verge of guaranteeing equal civil rights to everyone regardless of the color of their skin, some senators resorted to the same filibuster threats that we hear today."

Project 21's Murdock added: "The Senate's top Democrat owes an immediate apology to Republicans on Capitol Hill, the 39 House Democrats who voted against Obamacare on November 7 and the 51 percent of Americans from coast to coast who a Rasmussen survey recently found are against Obamacare. If Reid believes these Americans who object to his high-cost, low-quality legislation also hold warm feelings for slavery, he is further removed from reality than anyone so far has feared. If he does not believe this, he should stop cynically firing rhetorical mortar shells at decent Americans who merely disagree with his spendthrift, Big Government approach to health care."

Reid's comments are also historically-inaccurate, as his own Democratic Party stood in the way of slavery abolition and civil rights legislation in the past.

"Why is history so confusing to Harry Reid? Six of the nine original planks of the Republican Party at its inception in 1856 were based on opposition to slavery and promoting civil rights," noted Project 21 Chairman Mychal Massie. "Did Reid also forget what party Lyndon Johnson worked with to get the Civil Rights Act of 1964 not only passed but to even get it through committee and onto the floor for a vote? One of the Democratic opponents - Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV), a former Klansman - is still serving today and is third in the presidential line of succession as the President pro tem. Reid's daring to brand opponents as racist is indicative of how far liberals are willing to go in order to control Americans from the cradle to the grave."

Project 21, a leading voice of black conservatives since 1992, is sponsored by the National Center for Public Policy Research (http://www.nationalcenter.org).

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