In a speech Wednesday, U.S. Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina, the Senate’s only African-American Republican, defended President Donald Trump’s pick for U.S. attorney general, Jeff Sessions. Scott said he would vote for Sessions – later confirmed – but also hold him accountable.
Scott also took aim at political divisions in America, saying they are threatening to tear the country apart.
And he ripped into liberals, saying that, while they preach tolerance, they tolerate only those who agree with them.
Excerpts from Scott’s speech:
‘John Lewis is an American hero’
(T)his issue is not the issue simply about our next attorney general.
This is really an issue about all of us. Not all of us as senators, but all of us as members of the American family.
This is an issue that digs deep to the core of our souls, deep into the core of our nation, deep into who we can be, who we should be, and how we will get there. ...
My good friend, (Democratic U.S. Sen.) Cory Booker, last night spoke about a true American hero, John Lewis. And John Lewis is an American hero. I know that this may or may not be popular with everyone in the chamber or everyone in America on the conservative side or the liberal side, but the reality of it is simply this:
He was beaten within an inch of his life so that I would have the privilege not to stand in the chamber, but to vote, to simply vote. ...
I stand, we stand as a nation, on the shoulders of these giants. ...
(J)ust as a reminder to those who are listening to the conversation, ... when I leave the United States Senate one day, I’m still going to be black, an African American.
Black every day, black every way, and there’s no doubt.
This is an important part of the conversation, because as I read through some of the comments of my friends on the left, you will wonder if I ever had an experience as a black person in America. And I want to get to that in just a few minutes.
‘A different South’
God in his infinite wisdom made me black, born in Charleston, South Carolina, for a purpose. I am blessed to be who I am, and I’m equally blessed to be a Charlestonian.
Our country, the South, and specifically my state has suffered through difficult and challenging times around the issue of race.
My grandfather, who passed away at 94 years old last January, knew a very different South.
I remember listening to him about his experiences of having to step off of a sidewalk when white folks were coming. He learned early in life never look a white person in the eyes. ...
Separation, segregation, humiliation and challenges.
It was in my home city of Charleston where the Civil War began.
It was in my home city of Charleston where nearly 40 percent of all the slaves that came to America would come through – Charleston, South Carolina.
It was a Charlestonian who came up with the concept written into our Constitution, (that a slave was) three-fifths of a man.
It was also Charlestonians who in 2010 had a choice between Strom Thurmond’s son and a ... African-American guy named Tim Scott. ...
And the evolution that has occurred in the South could be seen very clearly. ... They gave me the privilege of representing them in Congress over the son of Strom Thurmond, over the son and the namesake of one of the most popular governors in South Carolina, Carroll Campbell Jr.
I thank God that the South Carolina that I have come to know, the South that I’ve had the experience to enjoy is a different South.
It is a different Charleston than my grandfather knew in his 94 years. But my life has not been one of privilege and promise. As I said just a few nights ago, born in a single-parent household, living in poverty, nearly flunked out of high school.
I’ve been called everything that you can think of from a racial perspective. Good, not too often. Bad, very consistently. So I understand that there is room for progress. There is a need for us to crystallize what we’re fighting about, who we’re fighting for and how we’re going to get there. ...
‘Our country is being pulled apart from extremes on both ends’
We are at a defining moment in our country, not because of the U.S. ... attorney general, not because of the debate we’re going through in this body, but because our country is being pulled apart from extremes on both ends.
This is not healthy for our country.
Too often too many particularly on the right are found guilty until proven innocent on issues of race, issues of fairness. ...
I think about some of the comments that have come into my office over the last several weeks. ... I’m used to being attacked.
If you sign up to be a black conservative, the chances are very high you will be attacked. It comes with the territory. And I’ve had it for 20 years, two decades.
But my friends and my staff, they’re not used to the level of animus that comes in from the liberal left that suggests that I somehow (am) not helpful to the cause of liberal America, and therefore I am not helpful to black America. Because they see those as one in the same.
I brought some of the pages of chats that I have from folks — actually the comments I get from Twitter about my support of Jeff Sessions.
Mr. Tracy Johnson, @tracyj sends in: Uncle Tim Scott. Everyone in South Carolina who happens to be a left-winger knows that Tim Scott is an Uncle Tom. S. is documented, S is not for Scott. It is for fertilizer.
@sscott says: A white man in a black body, Tim Scott backs Jeff Sessions for attorney general.
My chief of staff, the only — until three weeks ago, the only African-American chief of staff in the United States Senate out of a 100 is the chief of staff for a Republican. The second African-American chief of staff in the United States Senate is the chief of staff of a Republican.
Yet they say of my chief of staff, she’s “high yella,” an implication that she’s just not black enough.
I go on to read from folks who wanted to share their opinions about my endorsing Jeff Sessions.
You are a disgrace to the black race.
Anthony Burnum at @burmanr says: You are an Uncle Tom Scott. You’re for Sessions. How does a black man turn on his own?
Anthony B. from @politicalart says: Senator Tim Scott is not an Uncle Tom. He doesn’t have a shred of honor. He’s a house Negro like the one in Django.
He also writes – I guess Anthony Burnum has been fairly active recently on my Twitter feed – I’m a complete horror. A black man who’s a racist against black people. Big Uncle – Uncle Tom piece of fertilizer. Think for yourselves. You are a disgrace to your race.
I left out all the ones that used the “N” word. Just felt like that would not be appropriate.
Liberals ‘do not want to be tolerant of anyone that disagrees’
You see, what I’m surprised by, just a smidget, is that the liberal left that speaks and desires for all of us to be tolerant — all of us to be tolerant — do not want to be tolerant of anyone that disagrees with where they are coming from.
So the definition of tolerance is that all Americans — isn’t that all Americans experience (get) a high level of tolerance. It’s that all Americans that agree with them experience this so-called tolerance. ...
I just wish that my friends who call themselves liberals would want tolerance for all Americans, including conservative Americans. ...
Democrat: ‘No room for ... name-calling, bullying’
Intolerant or derogatory speech should not be accepted, whoever it comes from, Jaime Harrison, chairman of the S.C. Democratic Party, said Thursday in response to U.S. Sen. Tim Scott’s comments about intolerance on the political left.
“There’s no room in politics for derogatory name-calling, bullying and all of that,” Harrison said. “We can voice legitimate disagreements. ... But that doesn’t mean just because somebody supports (Sessions), that gives you free license to demonize someone or call them names. We should be bigger than that.”
Democrat Harrison still disagrees with Republican Scott on Sessions’ selection as attorney general, noting how “very passionately” some people oppose the Alabaman’s nomination.
“There’s a real concern Jeff Sessions won’t protect civil rights,” Harrison said. “In politics, perception is reality, and the perception in minority communities is that he will not be just.”
Sessions is an “awful selection,” Harrison said.
But, he added, anyone who wants to discuss politics – including on social media – has an obligation to be civil and act as a role model.
Doing otherwise “just does not move the ball.”