During World War II, ex-Ku Klux Klansman, now U.S. senator,
Robert Byrd vowed never to fight "with a Negro by my side. Rather I should
die a thousand times, and see Old Glory trampled in the dirt never to rise
again, than to see this beloved land of ours become degraded by race
mongrels, a throwback to the blackest specimen from the wilds."
Just a couple of years ago, Byrd lectured us on the floor of the
Senate that "there are white niggers. I've seen a lot of white niggers in my
time." I wonder whether he was talking about whites who act like blacks.
San Francisco's esteemed mayor Willie Brown once described a
successful legislative battle this way: "We beat those old white boys fair
Spike Lee said in disapproval of interracial marriages: "I give
interracial couples a look. Daggers. They get uncomfortable when they see me
on the street."
The National Association of Black Social Workers drafted a
position paper calling white adoptions of black children "cultural
genocide." They warned against "transculturation ... when one dominant
culture overpowers and forces another culture to accept a foreign form of
Donna Brazile, Al Gore's presidential campaign manager, called
Republicans "white boys" who seek to "exclude, denigrate and leave behind."
At a celebration for retiring Sen. Strom Thurmond, R-S.C., Sen.
Trent Lott, R-Miss., said that Mississippians were proud to have voted for
Thurmond in his 1948 presidential campaign "and, if the rest of the country
had followed our lead, we wouldn't have had all these problems over all
Which among the above statements are the most racist, which have
received the most media coverage and which caused the most angst? Clearly,
Lott's statement received the most media coverage and created the most
angst, but it doesn't begin to qualify as the most racist.
You say: "Williams, that's different. High officials shouldn't
honor and praise racists or ex-racists." Then what about Bill Clinton's
acknowledged political mentors -- former Arkansas Sen. J. William Fulbright
and former Arkansas Gov. Orville Faubus -- who were both rabid
segregationists? Yet the former president highly praises Fulbright and
bestowed upon him the Presidential Medal of Freedom Award.
By the way, Fulbright was one of 19 senators who issued a
statement titled, "The Southern Manifesto," condemning the 1954 Supreme
Court decision of Brown vs. Board of Education and defending segregation.
That's a bit more recent than Thurmond's run for the White House. Does
Clinton's praise of Fulbright mean that he supported "The Southern
Manifesto," just as the assertion that Lott's praise of Thurmond means he
supported Thurmond's segregationist stand in 1948? If so, why not also
I have several possible theories on the responses to Lott's
rather stupid remarks -- stupid in the context of our politically correct
My first theory is that conservatives are held to higher
standards of decency, conduct and decorum than liberals. In other words,
it's like behavior that's tolerated in the case of children but ostracized
when adults do the same thing. That theory might also explain why racist
statements made by blacks are excused.
Another theory is that since 9-11 and President Bush's public
popularity, both appointed and unappointed black leaders have had no
platform and been paid no attention. Lott's gaffe gives them platform, voice
Finally, the Democrats, having lost all branches of national
government in the recent elections, are desperate to get something on Bush
and the Republicans, and Trent Lott's statement is the answer to their