MSNBC Contributor: Rice Criticism Racially Motivated

'There's a resonant theme here about highly intelligent black people and some unconscious refusal to acknowledge their legitimacy'


Frequent MSNBC contributor Michael Eric Dyson said Thursday that race played a role in the criticism of U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice, who withdrew her name from consideration for nomination for Secretary of State.

Senate Republicans expressed strong concerns to her possible nomination by President Barack Obama in the wake of her misleading remarks about the Sept. 11 Benghazi terrorist attack on the U.S. Consulate, as well as her investments in companies that do business in Iran and revelations that she had failed to put adequate pressure on the Rwandan president for his support of a brutal rebellion in Congo.

Thursday on "Martin Bashir," Dyson said, "We know collectively what's going on here," before saying considerations of her race and gender made consideration of her intelligence even more "resonant."

DYSON: It has even more significance now because it attacks a woman of such high pedigree when the question is not only her qualifications as per se who she is, but we know collectively what's going on here. We don't want to name what this is. We try to pretend we're being kind here, but we know she's one of the highest ranking African-American people here, and a female. The assault upon her intelligence stands apart from any consideration of race or gender, but when you throw race and gender in, the consideration of intelligence becomes even more acutely, you know, resonant here. I think we have to acknowledge that and her willingness to serve the country, and to withdraw her nomination, suggests that she truly is about the broader sense of democracy and serving the greater good.

He went on to compare Rice to other high-ranking African Americans in Washington and "some unconscious refusal to acknowledge their legitimacy."

DYSON: This is the nasty politics that we have become heir to. But at the same time, Eric Holder, Barack Obama, Susan Rice. What do they have in common? They're highly intelligent African-American people who did it the way America said it wants things to be done. They've been well-educated, not that other well-educated people that aren't black or Latino have not been subject to vicious recriminations or assaults, but there's a resonant theme here about highly intelligent black people and some unconscious refusal to acknowledge their legitimacy. I mean, the questioning of especially President Obama's intelligence and Susan Rice's intelligence resonates very powerfully here, and I could give you history after history after history of the cases in which African-American people of prominence have been questioned, brought to the bar of public concern as to the legitimacy of their intelligence, and yet all along proving they are more than superior to those who oppose them. I think we have to be honest about that.

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