Adolph Reed, who professes political science at Penn, has a snarky OpEd in the New York Timestoday, "The Puzzle of Black Republicans." Professor Reed is puzzled why any blacks would vote for Republicans, and why anyone thinks it's newsworthy that a "token" black has just been appointed to the Senate from South Carolina, "the home to white supremacists like John C. Calhoun, Preston S. Brooks, Ben Tillman and Strom Thurmond." "The trope of the black conservative," he concludes, "has retained a man-bites-dog newsworthiness that is long past its shelf life. Clichés about fallen barriers are increasingly meaningless; symbols don't make for coherent policies."
In the 19th Century, of course, and well into the early career of Strom Thurmond white supremacy was not limited to South Carolina, or even the South, but an impartial observer (as opposed to a Penn professor of political science) might think that Tim Scott's defeating the sons of Strom Thurmond and former Gov. Carroll Campbell in a Republican primary for what became his House seat was indeed a sign of progress. Apparently Professor Reed, however, believes, that any black who is not in lockstep with what Reed is pleased to call "black interests" is, by his definition, not merely a token but a "cynical token." Thus Reed notes with evident scorn that "[a]ll four black Republicans who have served in the House since the Reagan era -- Gary A. Franks in Connecticut, J. C. Watts Jr. in Oklahoma, Allen B. West in Florida and Mr. Scott -- were elected from majority-white districts."