Veteran Democrat Congressman Jim Clyburn once agreed with Rep. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) that the appointment of former senator Kamala Harris as the first Black vice president of the U.S. proves America isn’t racist.
“I agree with him on that. I don’t think a racist country would have elected Barack Obama as President, or Kamala Harris as Vice President,” Clyburn said in 2021. “That’s not the issue, that’s a red herring. The issue is they allow the jurisdictions in this country that have institutionalized the history and legacy of race. That’s what is happening.” He doubled down in a later interview with CNN saying, “A racist country would never elect Barack Obama president or Kamala Harris vice president.”
Currently in his 15th term, Clyburn has served as the U.S. representative for South Carolina’s 6th congressional district since 1993. The 6th congressional district of South Carolina is in central and eastern South Carolina. It includes all of Allendale, Bamberg, Clarendon, Colleton, Hampton, Jasper and Williamsburg counties and parts of Beaufort, Berkeley, Calhoun, Charleston, Dorchester, Orangeburg, Richland and Sumter counties.
Clyburn is widely credited with helping push President Joe Biden to victory in the 2020 presidential race.
Now Clyburn, the House Democratic whip and the highest-ranking Black man in Congress, seems to have changed his mind. He said in a recent interview with Time that America Is moving in the direction of Hitlerism.
Hitlerism is the political belief of Hitler or the Nazi party in Germany 1933–45. The Nazis considered the Aryan race as the superior “master race” and that Black people, mixed-race people, Jews and other ethnic and racial groups are inferior and sub-human.
Here are five takeaways from the Time interview with the 82-year-old Clyburn.
Not only did his well-timed endorsement of Biden during the campaign seemingly guarantee that Biden would carry South Carolina, Clyburn was instrumental to Barack Obama’s White House victory in 2008. Many also say if it wasn’t for Clyburn insistence that Biden select a Black female VP, Harris would have never been in the Administration.
According to Clyburn, racial tensions in the U.S. are now at an all-time high, despite the appointment of Harris as VP. The indicators include Congress’s failure to pass police reform or voting-rights legislation. Violent racist incidents, such as 10 Black people being killed at a Buffalo, N.Y., supermarket in May by a white gunman, are also on the rise. And, there is the lack of respect for Black history; a school district in Pennsylvania recently banning children’s books on Civil Rights icons Dr. Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks, Clyburn pointed out as evidence of an increase in White Supremacy increasing in the U.S.
“If that ain’t Hitlerism, tell me what is,” Clyburn told Time. “That’s what this country is coming to.”
Despite Obama’s groundbreaking two terms in the White House as the country’s first Black president and the appointment of Vice President Harris by Biden, Black progress isn’t going up, said Clyburn, despite his recent remarks agreeing with Rep. Scott.
“Progress in this country has never moved on a linear plane,” Clyburn said. “It goes forward for a while. And then it goes backward for a while.”
According to Clyburn, despite this being a crucial moment for racial justice in the country, too many “progressive” politicians complain instead of solving problems.
“You know, this party of ours is catching so much flak, because there’s this contest: How many people get the most hits on social media? How many people get the biggest headline?” he says. “One guy is running against me right now in the primary, saying I’m not progressive enough.”
Clyburn stressed that while he may not come off as one of today’s Progressive Democrats, his record, he said, shows he is progressive.
“Show me one thing in my record. I get A ratings from all the labor unions. I get an A rating from the NAACP. Where am I not progressive?” he asked. “I’m not progressive to them because I don’t call people names. Because you ain’t gonna see me on TV yelling at somebody, trying to get a headline. I spend my time trying to figure out how best to hold on to this majority and get things done. They’re having a contest on who can yell the loudest.”
There has been little doubt that Clyburn has been aggressive in flexing his political power, although some would argue he has not pushed forth issues concerning many in Black America, such as police reform. But he was worked to push Biden to keep his promise to appoint Black people in high-profile posts. But when Clyburn originally urged Biden to appoint Representative Marcia L. Fudge of Ohio to a different Cabinet post, Secretary of Agriculture, instead of Housing and Urban Development, Clyburn got pushback from Biden and Clyburn relented.
“I was flat out pushing her for Ag,” Clyburn said. The President his friend Tom Vilsack, who had served as agriculture secretary under Obama, for the role. There had been bad blood between Clyburn and Vilsack But Biden asked him to talk with Vilsack. “And so I did agree to talk with him,” Clyburn recalls. “And then I relented.”
Photo: House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn addresses the South Carolina Democratic Party convention on Saturday, June 11, 2022, in Columbia, S.C. A night earlier, Clyburn joined Vice President Kamala Harris on stage during her remarks to a fundraising dinner, her first state party event since taking office. (AP Photo/Meg Kinnard)