So, here's the story of how Senator Barbara Boxer got called a racist or whatever during today's climate change hearing. Harry Alford is the head of the National Black Chamber of Commerce. He opposes the current climate change legislation. Barbara Boxer is a senator from California who chairs the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. She is in favor of the current climate change legislation. Boxer says that green jobs are being created in California, Alford says that's not true. Let's fight!
ALFORD: I've been looking - I haven't seen them yet...The last time I checked, California is an economic basket case and these green jobs aren't going to solve it.
BOXER: I want you to come with me. Let's go see these jobs you say don't exist.
So, okay! Alford and Boxer are going to take a trip to Fresno, to look at windmills or something! But then Boxer dared to reference a report that favored climate change legislation that was authored by the NAACP, and that's when everything suddenly got pre-post-racial!
"Madam chair, that is condescending to me," Alford said. "I'm the National Black Chamber of Commerce, and you're trying to put up some other black group to pit against me."
Boxer defended including the report, however, saying the report reflects a "diversity" of support behind climate change legislation facing the Senate.
"If this gentleman were here, he would be proud he's being quoted," Boxer said in defense of the NAACP support.
But Alford was working himself into a fine rant:
"All that's condescending, and I don't like it. It's racial. I take offense to it. As an African-American and a veteran of this country, I take offense to that," he said. "You're quoting some other black man -- why don't you quote some other Asian or some other... You're getting racial here."
"You're speaking on behalf of the black community?" Alford asked. "Why are you doing the colored people association's study with the black Chamber of Commerce?"
"We've been looking at energy policy since 1996. And we are referring to the experts, regardless of their color. And for someone to tell me, an African-American, college-education veteran of the United States Army, that I must contend with some other "black group" and put aside everything else in here -- This has NOTHING to do with the NAACP, and really has nothing to do with the National Black Chamber of Commerce. We're talking about energy. And that -- that road the chair went down, I think is God awful."
Now, did Boxer specifically cite an NAACP report just to needle Alford? Probably! And that's annoying, yes. As a colleague writes (for the win!): "It drives black people nuts that white people always want to hook them up with their one other black friend." But! Is that racism? Not in a week where this happened it isn't!