RNC Chairman Michael Steele offered a non-apology apology Sunday for using the term “honest injun.” His mea culpa came less than a day after Senate Majority leader Harry Reid used the term “negro” when discussing then-Senator Barack Obama. Steele said the remarks shouldn’t be held to the same standard and called for Reid to resign.
Wednesday, Steele was speaking to Sean Hannity about his new book, “Right Now: A 12-step Program for Defeating the Obama Agenda.” The RNC Chairman told Hannity, “Our platform is one of the best political documents that’s been written in the last 25 years. Honest injun on that.”
Members of his own party immediately spoke out against him. Rep. Tom Cole called Steele’s remarks “unacceptable” and said, “It’s an offensive phrase in the Native American community.”
Sen. Harry Reid apologized Saturday for his own unacceptable comments about then-candidate Obama. Reid said Obama could win the presidency because he was “light-skinned” and could speak with little “Negro dialect.” Reid immediately called Obama to apologize. “I deeply regret using such a poor choice of words,” Reid said in a statement. “I sincerely apologize for offending any and all Americans, especially African Americans for my improper comments.”
Steele called for the Majority Leader to step down Sunday. “I think he should,” he told Fox News’ Chris Wallace. Steele complained that former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott was forced to step down when he praised Strom Thurmond who ran as a segregationist for president in 1948. Lott said the country would not have had “all the problems” it had if more people had voted for Thurmond.
“The reality is there is this standard where the Democrats feel they can say these things and they can apologize when it comes from the mouths of their own,” said Steele. “But if it comes from anyone else, it’s racism. It’s either racist or it’s not.”
But apparently that standard doesn’t hold up when it comes to Steele’s “honest injun” remark. “The reality of it is that’s not the same,” Steele told Wallace.
This video is from Fox’s Fox News Sunday, broadcast Jan. 10, 2010.