Long Islanders call comments by Sen. Harry Reid of Nevada "stupid" and "arrogant," but don't seem to support a call for him to resign as majority leader because of his statements characterizing President Barack Obama in a recently released book, "Game Change."
Obama accepted Reid's apology after the book reported his description of the 2008 campaigning Illinois senator as a "light-skinned" African-American with "no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one."
Long Island's only Republican congressman, Rep. Peter King of Seaford, said he thought it was hypocritical of Democrats not to urge Reid to resign. But he won't, either. "That's up to the Dems," he said. He said he did not think Reid's comments were racist but "condescending and arrogant."
The Rev. Reginald Tuggle, pastor of Memorial Presbyterian Church in Roosevelt and a registered Republican, called Reid's comments "insensitive and stupid" but said Reid shouldn't quit.
Doug Mayers, former head of the Freeport-Roosevelt NAACP for seven years and an early Obama supporter, said: "That was stupid of Reid to talk about 'Negro dialect.' But he apologized. Barack accepted it, and I accept it. He should not resign."
Gwendolyn Brown, of Amityville, president of the central Long Island NAACP, said: "It was pretty stupid what he said. But he apologized, and I understand that he is still needed by the administration and the people."
Richard Himelfarb, an associate professor of political science at Hofstra University in Hempstead, said: "For a man who is in public life and is the leader of the U.S. Senate to refer to black people as Negroes bespeaks a way of thinking that is about 50 years out of date."Himelfarb, who lives in Bay Shore, added, "It was anachronistic. It's not racist, but it's problematic and embarrassing. I'm a Republican, but not a partisan. And I don't think the man should resign his position."