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Top Dem Rep. Can't Answer When Asked if Clarence Thomas Is Really an 'Uncle Tom

"Do you think he’s an Uncle Tom?"

Congressman James Clyburn, (D-SC), the highest ranking African American member of Congress, deliveres a special sermon in honor of Black History Month to St. Lukes Baptist Church attendees, Sunday, Feb. 16, 2014, in Paterson, N.J. (AP Photo/Northjersey.com Amy Newman) ONLINE OUT; MAGS OUT; TV OUT; INTERNET OUT; NO ARCHIVING; MANDATORY CREDIT

Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.) on Friday refused to say directly whether he thinks Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas is an “Uncle Tom” after a fellow Democratic lawmaker made the comparison this week.

Appearing on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” Clyburn, the third-ranking Democrat in the House, would only say that he and Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) are good friends, that he is “disappointed” in Thomas, who is black, and that he “doesn’t know” if Thomas is an “Uncle Tom.”

“You think it’s all right to be calling a Supreme Court justice an Uncle Tom?” host Joe Scarborough asked, referring to the term that is used to accuse black people of betraying their race.

“All of us have ways of expressing our disappointments. I am very disappointed in Clarence Thomas,” Clyburn responded.

“Do you think he’s an Uncle Tom?” Scarborough continued.

“Well, I don’t know,” Clyburn said.

“You don’t know if a Supreme Court justice is an Uncle Tom?” the host persisted.

“Well, he’s not the only Supreme Court justice there. We have nine of them,” Clyburn said, before eventually conceded that Thompson’s wording wasn’t the best. “Bennie Thompson is a very close personal friend … we don’t always use the same words and phrases.”

The discussion ended when co-host Mika Brzezinski declared that the conversation was going nowhere.

(H/T: Washington Free Beacon)

Follow Becket Adams (@BecketAdams) on Twitter

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