Colin Powell Says There Is Still Racism and Intolerance in the GOP-Truth! & Fiction!

Colin Powell Says There Is Still Racism and Intolerance in the GOP-Truth! & Fiction!

Summary of eRumor:
Former Secretary of State Colin Powell has said that racism and intolerance still exists within the Republican Party, and in some parts of the country.
The Truth:
Colin Powell has talked about “a dark vein of intolerance” in some wings of the Republican Party, but he has never publicly called them “racists.”
Following the 2012 presidential election, Colin Powell said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that the Republican Party was having “an identity problem” and had to better reflect the country’s changing demographics to win a national election. Powell also said there was a “dark vein of intolerance in some parts of the party.” Here’s a transcript of Powell’s remarks:

“I think the Republican Party right now is having an identity problem. And I’m still a Republican. I’m a Republican who grew up along with George Bush XLI. I grew up with Ronald Reagan, Cap Weinberger, Frank Carlucci, that Republican Party, the Republican Party of Dick Lugar and John Tower. But in recent years, there’s been a significant shift to the right and we have seen what that shift has produced, two losing presidential campaigns. I think what the Republican Party needs to do now is take a very hard look at itself and understand that the country has changed. The country is changing demographically. And if the Republican Party does not change along with that demographic, they’re going to be in trouble. And so, when we see that in one more generation, the minorities of America, African-Americans, Hispanic Americans, and Asian Americans will be the majority of the country, you can’t go around saying we don’t want to have a solid immigration policy. We’re going to dismiss the 47 percent. We are going to make it hard for these minorities to vote as they did in the last election. What did that produce? The court struck most of that down and most importantly, it caused people to turn out and stand in line because these Republicans were trying to keep us from voting. There’s also a dark — a dark vein of intolerance in some parts of the Party. What I do mean by that? I mean by that is they still sort of look down on minorities. How can I evidence that? When I see a former governor say that the president is shuckin’ and jivin’, that’s a racial era slave term. When I see another former governor after the president’s first debate where he didn’t do very well, says that the president was lazy. He didn’t say he was slow, he was tired, he didn’t do well, he said he was lazy. Now, it may not mean anything to most Americans but to those of us who are African-Americans, the second word is shiftless and then there’s a third word that goes along with it Birther, the whole Birther Movement. Why do senior Republican leaders tolerate this kind of discussion within the Party? I think the Party has to take a look at itself. It has to take a look at its responsibilities for health care. It has to take a look at immigration. It has to take a look at those less fortunate than us. The Party has gathered unto itself a reputation that it is the party of the rich. It is the party of lower taxes. But there are a lot of people who are lower down the food chain, the economic chain, who are also paying lots of taxes relative to their income and they need help. We need more education work being done in this country. We need a solid immigration policy. We have to look at climate change. There are a lot of things that the American people are expecting and the Republican Party, as they get ready for the next election, really has to focus on some of these issues and not ignore them. Everybody wants to talk about who’s going to be the candidate. You better think first about what’s the party they’re actually going to represent. If it’s just going to represent the far right-wing of the political spectrum, I think the Party is in difficulty. I’m a moderate but I’m still a Republican, that’s how I was raised. And until I voted for Mister Obama twice, I had voted for seven straight Republican presidents.

Then, in March 2015, Colin Powell once again drew headlines when he said that he still saw a “dark vein of intolerance” along the political spectrum, including Republicans, during an appearance on ABC’s “This Week.”  When asked about his previous comments, Powell responded:

“I still see (the dark vein of intolerance). I still see it in the Republican Party and I still see it in other parts of our country. You don’t have to be a Republican — a Republican to be touched by this dark vein. America is still going through this transformation from where we were just 50 of 60 years ago. You have to remember, it was only about 60 or 70 years ago that we stood have — still had poll taxes, that we still had literacy tests in order to vote, that the voting places were only open two days a month for African-Americans. So we’ve come a long way, but there’s a long way to go. And we have to change the hearts and minds of Americans. And I see progress, especially in the younger generation. When I speak to young kids, when I look at my own young grandchildren, they’re not of that past, they’re of the present. They’re of the future. They understand the importance of diversity. They understand the beauty of this wonderful country of ours, with all the different shades of people we have in this country. So we have to deal with this. We have to deal with making sure that everybody can vote and express their opinion, police forces are acting in a proper manner, citizens are acting in a proper manner with respect to the police forces and that governments and cities and states throughout the — throughout the country are making sure that they are not discriminating against any particular part of their citizenry.”

So, again, Colin Powell described the nation’s changing demographics and talked generally about a dark vein of intolerance. However, Powell didn’t use the term “racists,” as the eRumor alleges.
That comment appears to have came from Lawrence Wilkerson, Colin Powell’s former chief of staff. In an April 2015 interview with Salon, Wilkerson said:

“There are sane and sober people in the Republican Party. The public persona of the Republican Party has changed since the days of Abraham Lincoln and Dwight Eisenhower.

I’m not afraid of a backlash. The GOP has scores of racists. Under Richard Nixon’s blessing, the GOP took advantage of disgruntled Democrats in the South. They are still there and their children are there. This is very much known in our party. This was a conscious strategy.”

Colin Powell has talked generally about intolerance and the Republican Party’s need to appeal to the country’s changing demographics, but it’s not true that he called Republicans racist. It appears that Lawrence Wilkerson’s comments were incorrectly attributed to Powell, or that the term “racists” was added in the retelling of his comments.