Robert Byrd’s finest hour

Robert Byrd’s finest hour June 28, 2010

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  • George

    Of course you would support a racial supremacist.

    So much for a Democratic Party moving beyond it’s racist core and history.

    How long did he and your fellow Dems try to delay the Civil Rights Act? Sick people.

  • You know, after he passed, I wondered – would the right-wingnuts use his racist history against him? Surely not, I thought – after all, the man has spent the last few decades apologizing for his racist past, and expressing great sadness that this will forever taint his legacy. Not only does this mark true repentence, but it stands in stark contrast to the current southern-dominated GOP and is tea-party affiliates, which always seems one dog-whistle away from overt racism.

  • George

    Apologizing? Where? When have the Democrats ever apologized for their Jim Crow history? Give me one repentent Southern Democrat sorry for his racist votes or campaigns.

    Here’s one Byrd gem, on serving militarily along blacks: “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.”

    Charming fella. The reason you’re willing to dismiss his racist rhetoric is because you were happy to have his vote for big government socialism. That was more important to you than his racist views. Same goes with Al Gore Sr. and the rest of the racist 20th Century Democrat Party.

  • Kurt

    So much for a Democrat Party…

    So much for grammer.

  • Thales

    Whoa! Whoa! Time out ! Let’s drop the race issue on both sides.

    Sure, Byrd had some links to racism a long, long time ago. But based on Byrd’s life and political career since then, there is no real evidence to support the contention that he deserves to be tarred with the label “racist”.

    Sure, there are some extreme wackos who call themselves “tea-partiers” and who also hold racist views. But there is no real evidence to support the contention that the vast majority of tea party supporters and leadership deserves to be tarred with the label “racist”.

    So let’s drop the racism charges.

  • Matt Bowman

    I haven’t seen the whole speech but this clip is a good one, in which he takes a courageous statesman-like position for America as a republic, not an empire.

  • Yes, Byrd has apologized for his past countless times. And insisted he didn’t mind apologizing for it, because he takes his own past seriously.

    The American Catholic mourns his passing, probably not aware that he renounced his KKK past, that he opposed the Iraq War and the Bush administration, and that he has in the last year or two turned on the coal industry.

    LifeSite news celebrated the passing of a “pro-choice” senator. I’m not sure how it played out in his voting, but I am told that he has been pro-life for years, and that his views on abortion were changed by a former president of Wheeling Jesuit University.

  • Thales – I disagree. Byrd explicitly renounced his racist past. Most current “tea partiers” and even republicans will not distance themselves from racism even today, and even defend open racists like Rush Limbaugh. Byrd is a witness to conversion in many ways. If only self-proclaimed “Christian patriots” were so open to conversion.

  • phosphorious

    Whoa! Whoa! Time out ! Let’s drop the race issue on both sides.

    Wha. . . ? Only one side in this thread has brought up “the race issue.”

    Besides, everyone knows that the racist “dixiecrats” abandoned the democratic party in favor of the GOP.

    Which is why it’s republican candidates these days who have to prove that they are not against the Civil Rights Act.

  • The American Catholic mourns his passing, probably not aware that he renounced his KKK past, that he opposed the Iraq War and the Bush administration, and that he has in the last year or two turned on the coal industry.

    Actually, Michael, I think Tito only quoted the WSJ coverage in an effort to be polite on the day of the man’s death. But it is kind of you to dip in and attempt to imply that we support the KKK. One can alway count on you to raise the tone.

  • Glad to be of service, Darwin.

  • The very fact that Sen. Byrd stayed in the Democratic party when the Dixiecrats migrated en masse to the GOP should witness to the sincerity of his conversion on the race issue.
    It would seem possible to put a cork in the cheap shots and the boilerplate rhetoric long enough for the man to be buried first.

  • George

    The apologies for Byrd on this site are all the evidence one needs that the Democratic Party has never distanced itself from its slave-holding past and a century of Jim Crow laws.

    You socialists will excuse everything in service of your god, the State. No lynch mob is beyond forgiveness if it advocates for more government power, ala Byrd.

  • George

    By the way, can Byrd’s excusers please point me to ONE instance of his apologies for leading the Klu Klux Klan? Much less than the “few decades” of apologies? No? Maybe it’s because you’re abject liars.

  • Kurt

    LifeSite news celebrated the passing of a “pro-choice” senator

    Of course Senator Byrd’s voting record does not qualify as “Pro-Life” to Lifesite and the Pro-Life Establishment. That is why there is no moral obligation to support the hopelessly corrupt and politically biased Pro-Life Movement.

  • Jack

    George: “I know now I was wrong. Intolerance had no place in America. I apologized a thousand times . . . and I don’t mind apologizing over and over again. I can’t erase what happened.” – Senator Byrd.

    The man made mistakes but he acknowledges it and he is apologizing so I accept him. As an Asian-American his racist rhetoric from the past is grossly offensive but I truly believe the man eventually saw the error of his ways. Let’s stop the partisan bickering and just take this day to acknowledge Senator Byrd’s legacy – good and bad – and move on. No need to use his death to hurl insults at one party or the other. I hear so many times from people how sick of the partisanship they are, yet I find that they are just as partisan as the next guy. If you want bipartisanship, look at yourself first rather than the other guy.

  • Rodak

    George, buddy–you can’t piss on a man’s grave until he’s in it. Chill out.

  • Thales

    Sigh.

    The trouble is that reasonable discussions are next to impossible once the label “racist” is used. Just as it’s difficult to talk about Byrd’s legacy when the other guy says “oh, he’s a racist”, so it’s difficult to talk about the tea partiers when the other guy says “oh, they’re racist.” I just tried to head off the racism.

    Wha. . . ? Only one side in this thread has brought up “the race issue.”

    phosphorious,
    Morning’s Minion, you, and Michael suggested tea-partiers/GOP are racist.

    Most current “tea partiers” and even republicans will not distance themselves from racism even today, and even defend open racists like Rush Limbaugh.

    Michael,
    Teaparty leaders and GOP pols have distanced themselves from racism (see teaparty head Amy Kremer on the View and GOP statements after the health care rally). And I don’t want to side-track this comment thread, but I think there is insufficient evidence to declare Limbaugh an “open racist”. You’re probably thinking of Limbaugh statements that one could argue were racially insensitive, but that’s different from saying “he’s a racist”. Harry Reid and Joe Biden have said racially insensitive things, but it’s unproductive and unfair for me to dismiss them out of hand and say “oh, they’re racists.”

    Once the racism bomb is dropped, conversation goes nowhere. Just as I don’t like George dropping the racist bomb on Byrd, I don’t like Vox Nova dropping the racist bomb on teapartiers.

  • Bruce in Kansas

    I believe Jesus said something about Him being the judge, and that He gave us a new commandment – we are supposed to love one another. At least that’s His mandate as I understand it.
    It seems those of us on both sides of the US political model are far from the kingdom on this thread.

  • Byrd’s record on abortion can probably best be described as mixed. He got a 43% positive rating from NARAL and a 50% positive rating from NRLC.

    http://www.ontheissues.org/social/Robert_Byrd_Abortion.htm

    Generally speaking, how seriously people take the “don’t piss on the grave till it’s occupied” rule has to do with their viewpoint on the particular person. For instance, a number of those shocked at the suggestion that Byrd remained a racist were very quick to roll out the accusation against William F. Buckley — despite the fact that his racially insensitive remarks were much milder than those of Byrd and he repented of them much sooner.

    Personally, I think it’s classless to make a big deal of insulting someone before he’s in the ground — there’s plenty of time for that later.

  • Kurt

    Byrd’s record on abortion can probably best be described as mixed. He got a … 50% positive rating from NRLC.

    Yeah. He voted “anti-life” on the issue of campaign finance reform.

  • phosphorious

    phosphorious,
    Morning’s Minion, you, and Michael suggested tea-partiers/GOP are racist.

    Not in this thread.

    And when Tea Baggers criticize Obama without overt and covert references to his race, I will stop calling them racists.

  • Thales

    phosphorious,

    Well, now you just did it in your comment.

    But I don’t want to get in this debate about who’s racist and who isn’t. I was just trying to come to a middle ground without the racism bomb, because I don’t think the following debate is very productive:

    -“Let’s talk about Robert Byrd, a man with strengths and weaknesses, a man who did good things and bad things, had successes and disappointments.”
    -“Byrd’s a racist.”
    -“Oh, you’re a racist.”

  • Kurt,

    Actually, the things which look concerning to me on the linked page include:

    – Voted NO on restricting UN funding for population control policies.
    – Voted NO on barring HHS grants to organizations that perform abortions.
    – Voted YES on expanding research to more embryonic stem cell lines.
    – Voted NO on criminal penalty for harming unborn fetus during other crime.
    – Voted NO on maintaining ban on Military Base Abortions.
    – Voted NO on banning human cloning.

    Really, the only positives on the list here:

    – Voted YES on banning partial birth abortions.
    – Voted YES on notifying parents of minors who get out-of-state abortions.

    However much you may dislike NRLC, they don’t knock off 50% on their rating simply for opposing campaign finance reform, and you know it.

  • Bruce Cole

    George:

    You are a bloody idiot obsessed with your own anti-history:

    Please remember:

    1. Both JFK and LBJ were Democrats
    2. The majority of Democrats in Congress, and the vast majority of Democrats in Congress from outside of the former rebellious states, voted for the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
    3. The Republican nominee for the Presidency in 1964 was a United States Senator, Barry Goldwater, who voted against the Civil Rights Act.
    4. For a generation or more prior to all this, blacks in “the North” had changed their basic political allegiance from Republican to Democratic.
    5. All the above are reminders of something American have a hard time wrapping their minds around, which is that we really don’t have national political parties in the way so many European nations do, because we are a federal republic rather than a unitary state, and we have presidential/congressional government rather than a parliamentary system.
    6. So, given all this, it is absolutely no mystery at all that millions of newly enfranchised (or finally enfranchised) Black Americans would register almost unanimously Democratic, while at the very same time the resurgent Republicans in “the South” would be lily-white, and fomer Democrats like Strom Thurmond and Jesse Helms would be just that, former Democrats.
    7. There are a lot more things that could be said, but in the interests of peaceableness, they won’t be.

  • Kurt

    However much you may dislike NRLC, they don’t knock off 50% on their rating simply for opposing campaign finance reform, and you know it.

    Darwin,

    Actually, for the 107th Congress, opposition to campaign finance reform counted for 2/3rds of their “Pro-Life” rating of senators.

    I looked at NRTL’s 2009 scorecard for the House and found that I would earn a 16% rating from them if I were a Member of Congress and voting my personal judgment. Throwing out the NRTL rating is nothing more than measure of adherence to a hopelessly corrupt organization’s conservative agenda.

    But you are correct. I dislike them.

  • phosphorious

    phosphorious,

    Well, now you just did it in your comment.

    Yes. . . and NOW you can say “Liberals do it too.” You jumped the gun.

    Also: I believe I cited reasons for believeing Tea Baggers are racist. It’s not mere slander.

  • Thales

    phosphorious,

    I believe I cited reasons for believing Tea Baggers are racist.

    And your debate opponent has reasons for believing Byrd is a racist. And for believing that the Democratic Party hasn’t done enough to distance itself from Byrd and racism, and is therefore made up of racists too.

    I, on the other hand, think there is a better way of discussing someone’s ideas or policies or actions, than by saying “you’re racist – no, you’re racist!” But maybe you’re satisfied with that level of discourse.

  • I’ve been to Tea Parties in Ohio. There were blacks there. The race card is so old and the same people play it every time.

  • Rodak

    And your debate opponent has reasons for believing Byrd is a racist. And for believing that the Democratic Party hasn’t done enough to distance itself from Byrd and racism, and is therefore made up of racists too.

    Both of the statements made above are untrue. It is an indisputable fact that Byrd was a racist at one time. There is also plenty of evidence of his repentence of that fact, consistently, over many years.
    While “hasn’t done enough” is so vague as to be meaningless, it is easily demonstrable that the racist Democrats left that party over civil rights issues, became Republicans, and voted against most civil rights legislation. The fact that there were moderate, and even liberal, Republicans in those days who also supported the legislation does not change the circumstance that it was the GOP which welcomed the exiled Dixiecrats in order to plot the well-known “Southern Strategy.” Deal with it.

  • Thales

    Rodak,

    Are you talking to me? Or to phosphorius’s hypothetical right-wing debate opponent, the one who would respond and say “yeah, but we don’t know that Byrd’s repentance is sincere and not done for political reasons, so I think he’s still racist”?

    I’ll say it again: let’s be careful about dropping the racism bomb, because it just stifles reasonable discussion. Let’s talk about the issues and policies and actions that a person puts forward, without accusing him of being a racist.

  • phosphorious

    And your debate opponent has reasons for believing Byrd is a racist. And for believing that the Democratic Party hasn’t done enough to distance itself from Byrd and racism, and is therefore made up of racists too.

    No he hasn’t. He relies on an obvious distortion of history, completely ignoring the fact that the “dixiecrats,” embittered southern racists all, migrated from the democratic party to the GOP. . . who actively courted their votes.

    It’s called the Southern Strategy, and it means that the present democratic party has no ties to its historic racism.

  • phosphorious

    I, on the other hand, think there is a better way of discussing someone’s ideas or policies or actions, than by saying “you’re racist – no, you’re racist!” But maybe you’re satisfied with that level of discourse.

    Just because the term racist is over applied doesn’t mean there is no such thing as racism.

    But what really bothers me is this “both parties are wrong in exactly the same way and to the same degree” nonsense.

    No matter what any liberal says in criticism of a conservative the response is ALWAYS “you do it too!”

    You seem to think that it is some sort of defense that you are the moral equivalent of those who. . . in conservative opinion. . . are racist, baby killing communists.

    I find that strange.

  • phosphorious

    Pauli,

    I’ve been to Tea Parties in Ohio. There were blacks there. The race card is so old and the same people play it every time.

    I see. . . and of course, because they are black, they couldn’t possibly have wrong-headed theories about racial superiority, right? You know what they think because you have seen the color of their skin.

    How racist of you. . .

  • S.pamb.ot

    Phosphorius,

    You played the race card quite recently on this issue:
    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/voxnova/2010/06/16/the-tea-party-and-metaphysical-anger/#comment-81280

  • phosphorious

    I “played the race card” by asking a perfectly good question.

    Tea Baggers. . . who are overwhlemingly white. . . are “angry” at the government.

    Notice, i didn;t say “exclusively” or “one hindred per cent” white. . . just “overwhelmingly.”

    And they are angry at government spending. oemthing that Bush was equally guilty of. Just goodle “Bush medicare prescription” for the story on how much Bush was willing to spend on “socilaized medicine.”

    But the Tea Baggers said nothing. Conservatives voted for Bush in 2004.

    So why the difference in their responses to Bish and Obama.

    Either dismal party hackery. . . or racism. I honestly can’t think of a third reason.

  • phosphorious

    BTW:

    Conservatives seem to have moved from “Liberals throw the accusation of racism around with very little reason”

    to

    “There is no such thing as racism anymore; anyone who accuses a white person of being racist is doing so for political motives”

    With very little trouble! Good for you!

  • Thales–
    I was addressing the falsity of the ideas embedded in the words I quoted. By extension I was addressing anybody who validates those ideas. If the shoe fits…etc.

  • Thales

    phosphorious,

    All I’m stating is that I don’t think “you’re a racist” is a very productive way of having a discussion, whether you’re a “liberal” or a “conservative”. Remember, this post is about Byrd and I didn’t like how “conservative” George started off the whole discussion by dismissing Byrd entirely with a “oh, he’s a racist”. Wouldn’t you agree with my point, that George wasn’t trying to have a productive discussion about Byrd?

    And if there is pointlessness in a debate about Byrd’s legacy where a “conservative” immediately slams the door by shouting “racist!”, I submit that there is pointlessness in a debate about the health care bill (for example) where a “liberal” immediately slams the door by shouting “racist!” Of course, there do exist actual racists in this world, but dropping the racism bomb should happen very rarely because it doesn’t contribute to a reasonable discussion.

  • anon

    Interesting contrast here in the NY Times Double Standard on Long-Ago Segregationists:

    “Robert C. Byrd, a Pillar of the Senate, Dies at 92”
    — New York Times headline, June 28. Byrd was a Democrat for his entire career.

    “Strom Thurmond, Foe of Integration, Dies at 100”
    — New York Times headline, June 27, 2003. Thurmond switched from the Democratic to Republican Party in 1964.

  • Kurt

    http://www.trentonmonitor.com/main.asp?SectionID=4&SubSectionID=38&ArticleID=1141

    This ran in multiple official Catholic publications.