The phrase “Uncle Tim” trended on Twitter Wednesday night after Senator Tim Scott, the Senate’s lone black Republican, delivered the GOP’s rebuttal to President Biden’s State of the Union address.
Since 1966, when the sitting president has delivered his State of the Union address on the condition of the nation to a joint session of Congress, a member of the opposing political party has delivered a rebuttal that is broadcast directly afterward. This year, Republicans tapped Scott for the job.
“We just heard President Biden’s first address to Congress. Our president seems like a good man,” Scott said in his speech.
Scott went on to criticize Biden for failing to deliver on the unity he promised Americans and declared that Biden and Democrats are “pulling us further apart.”
“His speech was full of good words. But President Biden promised you a specific kind of leadership. He promised to unite a nation. To lower the temperature. To govern for all Americans, no matter how we voted. That was the pitch. You just heard it again. But our nation is starving for more than empty platitudes. We need policies and progress that bring us closer together,” the South Carolina Republican continued.
Scott expressed gratitude for the “string of opportunities that are only possible here in America” but cautioned that “this past year, I’ve watched COVID attack every rung of the ladder that helped me up,” including families losing parents and grandparents too early, and churches and schools being locked down.
“I get called ‘Uncle Tom’ and the N-word — by ‘progressives.’ By liberals,” Scott added.
Almost immediately after Scott’s speech, “Uncle Tim” began trending on Twitter nationally, aided by several verified accounts that tweeted out the phrase in reference to the senator.
In my defense I actually said “Uncle TIM.”
And he was talking about his nephews!
— Michael Harriot (@michaelharriot) April 29, 2021
While saying this, UNCLE Tim Scott said America is not a racist society. https://t.co/4JSqgiH0Sx
— Mr. Vegas (@MrVegasMusic) April 29, 2021
Tim Scott does NOT represent black people. He knows he is not liked, admired or respected in the greater black community. Saying there is no racism in AM is ignorant. It's part of the Republican lie. Am's racist are just loving Uncle Tim..
— Charmaine (@charmage) April 29, 2021
Not all skinfolk are kinfolk
— Erin Maye Quade (@ErinMayeQuade) April 29, 2021
Sen. Scott insisting America is not racist but our healing from racism isn’t finished and he’s been called racist names.
Incidentally, Senator, anybody calls you the N-word is a friend of Trump’s. We progressives refer to you as a victim of Stockholm Syndrome. https://t.co/rnSpvOQS9x
— Keith Olbermann (@KeithOlbermann) April 29, 2021
“Sen @TimScottSC is uncle Tom’ing it for his life. So sad. South Carolina should be so ashamed,” wrote comedian and television personality Scott Nevins in a now-deleted tweet.
Nevins was subsequently criticized by several high-profile users and called out for his past use of the term “Uncle Tom,” including at least twice in reference to former GOP presidential candidate Ben Carson.
The online aspersions against Scott come just days after The Washington Post was criticized for publishing a fact-check of Scott’s claim that his family “went from cotton to Congress in one lifetime.” Scott made the remark at the Republican National Convention last year.
The Post called Scott’s version of his family history “a tidy story packaged for political consumption” and implied it was misleading because Scott’s great-great-grandfather once owned land in South Carolina. Scott has said on several occasions that his grandfather did not know how to read and write.
In his State of the Union speech, Biden urged Americans to receive a coronavirus vaccine. The president entered the House chamber wearing a mask even though he is fully vaccinated. Biden also emphasized free college and police reform.
“We have a giant opportunity to bend the arc of the moral universe toward justice. Real justice. And with the plans outlined tonight, we have a real chance to root out systemic racism that plagues America and American lives in other ways,” Biden said.