Lott, revisited

Posted: Dec 21, 2002 12:00 AM
Editor's Note: David Limbaugh filed this column prior to Friday's events. Nevertheless his reasoning is still holds true. I argued in my last column that many seeking to oust Sen. Trent Lott had a larger agenda in mind: smearing as racist the entire Republican Party and that certain Republicans may be unwittingly abetting that cause. I stand by those positions, but must comment on further developments. First, though I still contend this flap is just marginally about Lott himself, I have to deal with the issues concerning Lott personally. Earlier I said that he shouldn't resign as leader unless he had racism in his heart when speaking those fateful words at Strom Thurmond's birthday party. I believed that by resigning (if innocent) he would be adding fuel to the fire that seeks to burn the entire Republican Party as racist. Lott's bizarre behavior since I penned those words forces me to reconsider whether he should step down, but for a different reason. His alleged threat to resign from the Senate if removed from leadership – and his pathetic groveling on Black Entertainment Television – give me serious pause. With both, Lott displayed a willingness to place his selfish interests above those of his country and party, and above the principle of racial equality and other elements of the conservative agenda. In order to curry favor with the black audience, Lott said on BET that he favored affirmative action across the board, despite having opposed it, presumably on principle, throughout his legislative career. If Lott is to be replaced, the reason should be his newly acquired conflict of interest with his party's ideals. And on the off chance they remove him for that, Republicans should make clear their reason – lest their action be misconstrued as an admission of party-wide racism. Now, back to the larger issue. Lott's statements were blood to liberal race-baiting sharks. With each passing day, more leftists – emboldened by their fellow predators' incendiary allegations – have come out and said directly what they've been implying for years: Republicans are racists. Bill Clinton said Republicans are hypocritical in criticizing Lott going public with what the GOP had been doing "on the back roads every day." He said Republicans have been "trying to run black voters away from the polls" (an outrageous lie) and using code words and symbols (confederate flag) to increase white voter turnout in Southern states. What is almost as disturbing is that many Republicans aren't even trying to refute this slander. Well, I for one reject and strongly resent the suggestion that Republicans appeal to any latent or patent racism for votes in the South or elsewhere. The only race-baiting I'm aware of these days is the type displayed by Bill Clinton's remarks and those Democrat-sponsored ads that ran on St. Louis radio in 2000 warning that votes for Republicans would cause more black churches to burn. Whereas Lott's statements (at Thurmond's party) were at best ambiguous, the only possible purpose of these Democratic charges was to stir up black animosity against Republicans. If it's true that some bigots found a home in the Republican Party in the past, so what? Many, I assure you, stayed comfortably in the Democratic Party. The question is whether the GOP is bigoted today, either in its attitude or policies. The Republican Party stands for equal opportunity for all, racial equality and colorblindness. Its policies, except when diluted by the liberal strain, presume the equal dignity of all human beings created in God's image. (By the way, has anyone stopped to question just what bait Republicans are supposedly using to attract racists? Surely no one is silly enough to think Republicans harbor a secret agenda to restore Jim Crow.) Republicans have worked tirelessly to advance policies that treat all people equally under the law. They have achieved welfare reform, which has liberated many blacks, and others, from government dependency. Similarly, the GOP aspires to free minorities from the shackles of inferior inner-city public schools while their union-owned, Democratic accusers are doing everything they can to hide the keys to the jail cells. Democrats have some nerve acting like enlightened paragons of racial virtue when they so flagrantly buy minority votes with promises of short-term favors designed to perpetuate their long-term dependency on the state. Yes, Sen. Lott. It's time for the Republican Party to reinvigorate its Civil Rights Agenda. But we're talking about an agenda that stresses the content of our character, not the color of our skin. Yes, let's turn this unfortunate incident into an opportunity, not to abandon our hard-fought progress on racial equality, but to reaffirm it, according to the vision of Martin Luther King Jr. yesterday and Ward Connerly today.