(CNN)No one should have more sympathy for Sen. Tim Scott (R-South Carolina) than me. As the first black man elected to the US Senate from the Deep South since Reconstruction, Scott occupies a remarkable position in Congress.
And yet when he took to the floor and read off the disgusting comments people had made about him because he is a black Republican who supported Jeff Sessions for Attorney General, my sympathies lay elsewhere.
Scott voted for Trump, a man who said he wanted the discriminatory policy "stop and frisk" to be implemented nationwide, a man who spent years trying to undermine the legitimacy of the nation's first black president and a man who attacked a federal judge based on the judge's ethnicity. Scott called those comments racially toxic -- then supported Trump anyway.
Scott's feelings may have been hurt by a bevy of unsavory characters on Twitter. But Scott's decision to back Trump -- even as South Carolina's other US Senator, Lindsey Graham, refused to -- has hurt more than just people's feelings. It has endangered lives and livelihoods because of the threat of the repeal of health reform.
And Scott's own priorities, including holding the police more accountable by officially tracking police-involved shootings, are now in jeopardy because he backed Trump and Sessions.
Scott may be the nicest man in the Senate and the nicest politician I've ever met. His story of overcoming challenge is inspirational. His willingness to speak about the racial profiling he has faced -- even as a US Senator -- and his declaring that Coretta Scott King's words should have been allowed in the Senate are laudable.
But none of that removes the sting from his support of Trump and policies that might take us backward on racial equality and civil rights.
It's fine to demand a more civil dialogue when discussing our leaders, but wrong to elevate that demand above more pressing concerns -- because the truth is, no matter how many unwarranted insults Scott has to endure, he'll still be a US Senator, one of the most powerful people in the world, while the already-vulnerable on the wrong end of policies by Trump and Sessions must endure real suffering.
Scott has said it is time for a healing in America. He can start by not just calling out ugly comments on Twitter but acknowledging the role he has played in the racial divide.