Rep. Bennie Thompson of Mississippi faced a phalanx of reporters on Capitol Hill yesterday and refused to back down from inflammatory statements made during a weekend interview when he called Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas an “Uncle Tom,” and declared that racism was driving virulent Republican opposition to President Obama.
The comments were made during Thompson’s appearance on a New Nation of Islam radio show. Thompson accused Republican Gov. Phil Bryant of Mississippi of turning down $426 million in Medicaid funding through Obamacare for the state, whose residents are the poorest in the nation, “just because a Black man created it.”
Surrounded by reporters on Capitol Hill yesterday, according to McClatchy News Service, Thompson said, “I’ve been here a long time. … I’ve never seen the venom put forth on another candidate or president like I’ve seen with this president. And that’s my opinion.”
In response, Bryant said in a statement: “Those types of inflammatory statements don’t deserve a response.”
During the radio interview, Thompson said that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky “had the audacity” to tell Obama, “‘I don’t care what you come up with, we’re gonna be against it.’
“If that’s not a racist statement, I don’t know what is,” said Thompson, the 11-term congressman who is the longest- serving in Mississippi’s history.
Speaking of Supreme Court Justice Thomas, Thompson said, “It’s almost to the point where this man doesn’t even like Black people, he doesn’t like being Black, because every decision where color had something to do with it, he was against it.”
Speaking to reporters yesterday, he expounded on the point, adding: “Well, if you look at his decisions on the court, they have been adverse to the minority community, and the people I represent have a real issue with an African-American not being [sensitive] to those issues.”
Pointing to Thomas’ votes against voting rights and affirmative action, he said, “All those issues are very important and for someone in the court who is African-American and not sensitive to that, is a real problem.”
Asked by CNN reporter Dana Bash whether “Uncle Tom” was a racially charged term, Thompson replied, “For some it is, for others it’s the truth.”