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On the February 8 edition of NBC's Today, syndicated columnist Ann Coulter derided a resolution introduced in the Virginia Legislature apologizing for slavery as "white people engaging in a completely meaningless gesture" and falsely told viewers the resolution "was not introduced by a black person." In fact, according to a report in the Richmond Times-Dispatch, the original resolution was introduced by Delegate A. Donald McEachin and state Sen. Henry L. Marsh III, both African-American Democrats.
In reference to Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL), Coulter said that "the first black president should be an American black, and a Republican." Coulter's comment recalled, in part, a claim by columnist Stanley Crouch in the November 2, 2006, New York Daily News that "Obama did not -- does not -- share a heritage with the majority of black Americans, who are descendants of plantation slaves."
Additionally, Coulter suggested a comparison between Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr.'s (D-DE) remarks about Obama and the racial controversies surrounding Sen. Trent Lott (R-MS), saying "I don't think [Biden]'s a racist. I don't think Trent Lott is a racist. They're slips of tongue." Lott's remarks at a 2002 birthday party for the late Sen. Strom Thurmond (R-SC) included the claim that America "wouldn't have had all these problems over all these years" if Thurmond's 1948 segregationist candidacy for president had been successful. But as Media Matters for America has noted, Lott's comment was just the most recent incident in a pattern of public statements and actions that have been attacked as racially insensitive and, in several cases, as indicating support for racist entities.
From a discussion including Coulter, co-host Natalie Morales, and University of Pennsylvania professor Michael Eric Dyson on the February 8 edition of NBC's Today:
MORALES: Are people making too much of it, though?
COULTER: No, I mean, I think it's --
MORALES: I mean, did he apologize enough?
COULTER: Sure, Sure. I don't think he's a racist, I don't think Trent Lott is a racist. They're slips of tongue. But I totally understand the "articulate black" thing. I've always said this is why I don't like the phrase "compassionate conservative." You know, screw you. We think conservatism is compassionate. Unless you're saying most blacks aren't articulate. Or clean.
DYSON: And I did put my underarm deodorant on today.
MORALES: Yeah, I mean, but given Senator Hillary Clinton's [D-NY] popularity with blacks, though, is he necessarily a shoe-in, Ann, with the black vote?
COULTER: No. No, no, no. I've asked Michael about this. Political scientists will study for the next hundred years why blacks love the Clintons so much. But they do.
DYSON: Very much.
COULTER: And right now, Hillary has the black vote. And I gotta say -- I don't think race would hurt Obama -- but I think the first black president should be an American black, and a Republican.
MORALES: A Republican. Michael, I'm thinking you probably don't agree with that.
DYSON: No, I don't think that's the case --
MORALES: Let's move on to another issue because some state legislatures are now passing resolutions apologizing for slavery. In fact, in Virginia, they just passed a legislation expressing profound regret. However, a state delegate, Frank Hargrove [R], questioned the need for these resolutions and even went as far as saying that blacks should just, quote, "get over it."
MORALES: What do you make of this?
DYSON: Well, it's unfortunate again. I think that, obviously, an apology without consequential action is nothing, but you must apologize. If you do something wrong to a person, you must say you're sorry. And to say, "Get over slavery," well, "Get over cancer, get over, you know, the disease you have, get over the Holocaust." I don't think so. I think we have to work through them. And this is part of the sentiment and passion that black people are so disgusted with. We have -- must talk about things. We can disagree. Ann and I disagree about a lot of issues, but we can be civil and humane to one another.
MORALES: You guys are being very civil this morning.
COULTER: He's the only liberal I can stand talking to. If I can say about this -- I mean, what's wrong about what Hargrove -- it just hit me when you were saying it -- I promise you this resolution was not introduced by a black person. This is white people engaging in a completely meaningless gesture.
DYSON: I think it was a black guy who did it.
COULTER: Stand up to slavery when slavery is on the table. Stand up against abortion because that's what we're fighting now. Stand up against illegal immigration because that's what we're fighting now. To be coming along 150 years later when everyone opposes it -- ah! I just can't stand meaningless gestures like that.