Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS) is under fire for calling Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas an "Uncle Tom" during a New Nation of Islam radio broadcast last weekend.
Bennie Thompson also ignited controversy by opining that much of the opposition to the Affordable Healthcare Act, colloquially known as "Obamacare," is rooted in race and racism in the Republican party.
Thompson's remarks went largely unnoticed until earlier this week, when they gained traction on the social web.
During his comments over the weekend, Rep. Thompson explained his feeling on Clarence Thomas, explaining:
"I've been in Washington. I saw three presidents now. I never saw George Bush treated like this. I never saw Bill Clinton treated like this with such disrespect."
The Mississippi Democrat continued:
"That Mitch McConnell would have the audacity to tell the president of the United States — not the Chief Executive but the Commander-in-Chief — that 'I don't care what you you come up with, we're going to be against it.' Now if that's not a racist statement I don't know what is."
Thompson was referring to a comment made years back by Mitch McConnell, committing to ensuring President Obama would not be elected to a second term -- and seen by many as an admission of GOP intransigence regarding any progress in Washington while Obama remained in office.
Thompson described the pushback in Washington as "race creeping into the picture" during the remarks.
On CNN this week, the House rep explained his initial statement, adding of Thomas:
"Well if you look at his decisions on the court, they have been adverse to the minority community, and the people I represent have a real issue with an African-American not being sensible to those issues."
Thompson also said to CNN's Dana Bash:
"You're asking me the question, and I'm giving you a response... The people that I represent, for the most part, have a real issue with those decisions-voter ID, affirmative action, Affordable Care Act-all those issues are very important and for someone in the court who's African American and not sensitive to that is a real problem."
Bash pressed Bennie Thompson on his "Uncle Tom" comments, to which he referred back to McConnell's pledge during the first term of the Obama administration. The lawmaker pondered why McConnell would "say to a president that you're going to oppose anything that he puts out there... " before adding, he'd "never heard him say it to any other president."
Watch Bennie Thompson's original remarks above on the radio program.