Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY) on Thursday defended the assertion that race played a role in the treatment of President Barack Obama and other minorities in government, saying that the Republican Party had allowed itself to be taken over by "Confederates" in the Tea Party.
Earlier this week, Attorney General Eric Holder pointed to his treatment by Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) at a House hearing as an example of the “ugly and divisive” civil rights issues that black leaders were facing.
"The last five years have been defined by significant strides and by lasting reforms even in the face, even in the face of unprecedented, unwarranted, ugly and divisive adversity," Holder told Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network in New York on Wednesday. “If you don’t believe that, you look at the way — forget about me, forget about me. You look at the way the attorney general of the United States was treated yesterday by a House committee — has nothing to do with me, forget that. What attorney general has ever had to deal with that kind of treatment? What president has ever had to deal with that kind of treatment?”
That had conservative publications and the Fox News Channel declaring that Holder had "played the race card" in his disagreement with Gohmert.
"It seems to me, if you were to follow where the slave-holding states were, and where the Confederate flag flown, you will see even today, not only Obama's most serious critics, but those people that don't abide by the Voting Rights Act even today," Rep. Rangel explained to MSNBC host Chris Jansing on Thursday. "It's a painful thing to see with all of the progress we've made today, that a handful of people with so much hatred in their heart are willing to take this great Congress and country down because of that."
"But what happened with Eric Holder, and what happens every day with the president is not their personality," he added. "This is what some people in our country are doing to ourselves."
The New York Democrat laughed at the idea that Holder was "playing the race card."
"If there's anyone that believes that the color of the president is not an issue with those people who adamantly oppose them, they're not realistic," Rangel declared. "All it takes is someone, a group -- they call themselves the Tea Party -- to be able to impede the good Republicans from cooperating the way they should with Democrats so that at the end of the day, the country succeeds."
"But if you notice, whenever this group gets together against Obama, the Confederate flag is there with them," he insisted. "When I was involved in civil rights struggles and the communists would try to get in, we would tell them, 'You get yourself another corner, this is the civil rights demonstration.'"
"They don't do that with the Confederates."
For his part, Gohmert told Fox News that his disagreement with Holder was "not personal with me."