I hasten to note that the presence of Scott, Greene and Boebert in Congress has historic significance.
Scott was the first African American since Reconstruction to represent a Southern state in the U.S. Senate.
He followed in the distant footsteps of African Americans Hiram Revels, elected in 1870 to fill a Senate seat from Mississippi, and Blanche K. Bruce, elected to the Senate in 1875, also from Mississippi.
Scott’s appointment in 2012 by South Carolina’s Republican governor, Nikki Haley, caught the eye because he was, at the time, the only African American in the Senate. It was good to see his face.
His presence, however, only darkened the upper chamber’s complexion. The South Carolina seat remained unchanged. Scott is a reactionary, aligned in his thinking and values with the retiring senator he replaced — Jim DeMint, a leader of the conservative tea party movement.
Here’s why the elections of Greene and Boebert were also noteworthy:
In 2020, 27 women were newly elected to the House, and two-thirds of them were Republicans, according to Pew Research. That doubled the number of female members of the GOP House caucus from 15 to 30, the highest total ever.
Gender- and race-wise, the GOP on Capitol Hill is moving in baby steps closer to reflecting our nation’s diversity.
Yet the conspiracy-theory-embracing Greene and her gun-toting ideological extremist counterpart Boebert have as their role model former president Donald Trump.
They are, as Virginia’s GOP right-wing gubernatorial candidate Amanda Chase describes herself, “Trump in heels.”
As for the Senate, there’s not a dime’s worth of ideological difference between Scott and Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) or right-wing pot-stirrers such as Ted Cruz (Tex.) or Josh Hawley (Mo.). Scott is a leading Republican in a political party that in state after state is pushing to put hundreds of restrictive measures on the books to suppress voters, and on a scale not seen since the end of Reconstruction, when states in Old Dixie brought down the hammer on the voting rights of newly freed Black male slaves.
Saying through his press spokesman he was “honored to have President Trump’s endorsement” ahead of next year’s election, Scott cited his pleasure in helping Trump “seat 220+ conservative judges.” A badge of honor in Scott’s book.
There is nothing in Trump’s Republican Party that reflects even the slightest movement toward diversity of thought. The movement is all in the other direction, in fact.
Scott, Greene, Boebert and most of their House and Senate Republican colleagues are collectively and unapologetically bound to a politically conservative theology that couldn’t care less about societal woes such as the wealth gap, voter suppression and unequal justice.
But examples of racial diversity’s shortcomings aren’t limited to Congress.
Can you identify the fair housing advances and civil rights protections that were achieved by former Housing and Urban Development secretary Ben Carson?
Carson, Trump’s first and only Black Cabinet member, left behind a demoralized staff of civil servants shaken by his evisceration of anti-discrimination housing policies and his short-circuiting of attempts to boost Black homeownership.
Executive and legislative branches aside, I also hold up for further reflection associate justice of the Supreme Court Clarence Thomas. I choose to say no more.
Except this thought: “Everybody your color ain’t your kind, and everybody your kind, ain’t your color,” as Bishop Rudolph McKissick preached during his keynote speech at a 2010 “Remember Martin” program at Mt. Carmel Baptist Church in Gainesville, Fla.
McKissick’s observation was echoed by one of this week’s Lenten meditations offered by the Rev. Canon Dana Colley Corsello of the Washington National Cathedral. She cited the biblical text “Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment” (John 7:24) and broke it down in simpler terms with the idiom: “Don’t judge a book by its cover.”
We dare not go only on the appearances of a Scott, Greene or Boebert. They ought not be judged solely by their race or gender. Consider their words and deeds. Instead of looking at the book’s cover, look inside.
Yes, our great strength is diversity. But of a kind and quality needed to help form a more perfect union.
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