I refused to be sucked into the entire Michael Cohen debacle yesterday, compelling or not, but I saw enough. And I did see the sickest of spectacles—that involving Michigan’s Democratic Representative Rashida Tlaib and Republican Mark Meadows of North Carolina.
(Full disclosure: Meadows has been a Trump lapdog from the get-go, and Tlaib needs a filter between her brain and her mouth. Only my opinions, but I needed to say it.)
Perhaps because of those two beliefs, my first thought yesterday when Tlaib referred to Meadows’ using a black woman as a prop (to prove the president is not a racist) was that she should not have muddied the waters. My morning-after remorse, however, paints a different picture.
Tlaib was right—and I’d bet that if anyone knew she was right it was Elijah E. Cummings, the committee chairman who, for those of you who listened on the radio or still get their news by telegraph, is black. Ditto Tlaib. Mark Meadows is white.
However, Meadows’ indignation at being obliquely referred to as a racist and his citing of his friendship with Cummings as disclaimer was one of the great comic moments of the proceedings. Or maybe one of the saddest. I wish my mind had been quick enough to realize at the time that Meadows was simply reworking that dusty, threadbare trope: “I’m not a racist—some of my best friends are black.”
He may not in truth consider himself a racist, but bear with me here, and take a look at Meadows’ recent voting record:
He favors the middle class 2.7% of the time.
He favors narrow civil rights 75% of the time.
He supports racial equality 39% of the time.
He supports funding education 4.5% of the time.
He opposes same-sex marriage. Supports charter schools.
He supports women’s rights 0% of the time. (In 2013 voted against reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act)
Labor rights? Environmental protection? A humane immigration policy? Gun control?
Zero. Zero. Zero. Zero.
Last month he voted with the majority to reject white nationalism and white supremacy. It was not a courageous act: the vote was 424-1.
To his credit, Mark Meadows is not some avowed white supremacist like his Republican colleague Steve King. But his argument that one friendship with one black man proves his lack of prejudice is ludicrous; in fact, movie director Spike Lee’s anger with The Green Book winning an Oscar centers on the very same issue: one white man befriending one black man proves nothing in the larger scope of racial division.
If Meadows’ voting record had shown support of voting rights, of a living wage, of humane treatment of immigrants, of same-sex marriage, of reproductive rights—of any issues that tend to affect the lives of minorities, then his indignation might have been meaningful. Instead he merely illuminated what America is today—a nation convinced it isn't racist electing a president that proves it is.