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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Leonard Pitts Jr.: ‘Woke supremacy is as bad as white supremacy’? Not so, Sen. Scott

Dear Sen. Tim Scott:

Sadly, it is no longer much of a surprise when an official of your party says some racially offensive thing. From calling Barack Obama “uppity” and “boy,” to decrying an imaginary “war on whites,” to declaring the world’s Black and Brown nations in offensive terms, racial offense has become the Republican brand, as much an identifier of the GOP as elephants in straw hats.

But even at that, the thing you said last week was remarkable. It came – where else? – on Fox “News” in response to MSNBC host Joy Reid saying that you, the only African American senator in the party, gave it “a patina of diversity.” After defending you himself, host Trey Gowdy made a point of saying he wouldn’t even ask you to comment. But tellingly, you went out of your way to do just that.

“Woke supremacy is as bad as white supremacy,” you declared. “We need to take that seriously.”

Lord, have mercy.

And here, I’m obligated to establish the blindingly obvious, yet somehow still necessary. Which is that what you said was profoundly stupid and flat-out wrong.

In the first place, what even is “woke supremacy”? In the second place, and more substantially, can you show me, please, where these “woke supremacists” of yours have enslaved anyone or filled Southern trees with strange fruit, as white supremacists notoriously did? Or if that’s too high a bar, please show me how they imprisoned generations of people in squalid slums by drawing red lines on maps, or how they erected a social pipeline to funnel children directly from schools to cells. As, again, white supremacists did.

“Woke supremacy is as bad as white supremacy.”

It would be wrong if anybody said it. But yes, it is more wrong because you said it. Your ancestry, your biography and the very color of your skin tell us that you know better. Yet you said it anyway.

You said it as Georgia and other states plot to suppress the African American vote. You said it as trial begins in the case of the white cop who killed George Floyd by pressing a knee against his neck for nearly 9 minutes. You said it two months after a white-supremacist insurrection at the very building where you work.

You said it. Brother, are you out of your damn mind?

Reid’s point, as I take it, was that your party uses you – more accurately, your skin color – as a fig leaf covering not simply its lack of Black officials, but its hostility toward Black people. And in disputing that point, you neatly confirmed it.

Republicans love to style themselves as victims oppressed by a culture that is strangling their prerogatives as Christian, heterosexual white women and men. Of course, the only thing of which they are victims is change, the fact that LGBTQ people and so-called “minorities” are on the rise in America. And the only thing by which they are oppressed is the fact that 1948 is long gone and will not be resurrected, despite their best efforts.

These things terrify them. So they who still sit at the top of the privilege ladder, who still have better health, more wealth and little to fear from police, go about moaning how very hard things are for them. Nobody knows the trouble they’ve seen.

Bad enough that’s what they think. But for you to act as a human shield for such ignorance? Unbelievable.

“Woke supremacy is as bad as white supremacy.”

You absolutely know better. What you said was contemptible, irresponsible, shameful.

And you know that, too.

Leonard Pitts Jr. is a columnist for the Miami Herald, 3511 NW 91st Ave., Miami, Fla., 33172. Contact him via email at