Sen. Tim Scott on Sunday defended declaring “America is not a racist country” in his rebuttal to President Biden’s address to Congress — and said the US cannot replace one type of discrimination with another.
The South Carolina Republican, appearing Sunday on CBS News’ “Face the Nation,” said “thank goodness” the president and Vice President Kamala Harris agree with him on a topic “I’ve been saying for a long time: America is not a racist country.”
“The question is, is there a lingering effect after a couple of centuries of racism and discrimination in this nation. The answer is absolutely,” he said during the interview.
“The question we should be debating and fighting over is how do we resolve those issues going forward. One side says, I’m going to take from some to give to others. Fighting bigotry with bigotry is hypocrisy, it just doesn’t work,” he added.
He said he and other Republicans have suggested expanding “opportunity” to ensure that “we are fully equipped for the challenges of the future.”
“One of the reasons why we have fought for and won the highest level of funding for historically black colleges, Republicans believing in that fight, is because I understand that if I can level the playing field in education, we will actually see human flourishing like we’ve never seen before,” he said.
Host John Dickerson questioned Scott on whether the coronavirus pandemic “laid bare” the inequities that exist in black communities.
“When you pass a COVID package with $2 trillion of spending, and in your package you hide in there: If you are a black farmer, we will give you resources, but if you are a white farmer, you’re excluded from those same resources. That’s taking from one to give them the other,” Scott said, referring to a US Department of Agriculture initiative that has brought a number of lawsuits from white farmers.
“So we’re going to reverse that and call that a way of creating fairness in our country. That doesn’t really work,” Scott said.
Scott, the sole black Republican senator, was attacked by progressives and some Democrats following his response to Biden’s speech last week who called him “Uncle Tim” — a racial slur that Twitter allowed to trend for hours before stepping in to stop it.
“Hear me clearly: America is not a racist country. It’s backwards to fight discrimination with different discrimination. And it’s wrong to try to use our painful past to dishonestly shut down debates in the present,” he said last Wednesday.
“Original sin is never the end of the story. Not in our souls and not for our nation. The real story is always redemption,” Scott said.
Asked whether he agreed with Scott’s assessment of race in the US, Biden said he also doesn’t believe “the American people are racist.”
“But I think after 400 years, African Americans have been left in a position where they are so far behind the eight ball in terms of education and health, in terms of opportunity,” he said.