Add One More To The Byrd Dance
Although I have read several articles and blog posts on the release of the
Robert Byrd book today, I have only seen one place that gets close to asking some of the questions I have been asking regarding the Senator's past. (http://www.opinionjournal.com/best/ June 20,2005)
First of all let me say that I am all for forgiving Sen. Byrd, Gov. George Wallace, Jesse Helms, Al Gore Sr., you name them, but I need to know that the confession and repentance is, as much as is possible, sincere and complete.
In Byrd's book and the related interviews to date, he mentines his so-called "short" stay in the Klan, and that he was drawn to the organization because its members were role models, who were a brothernhood of elites, such as doctors, lawyers, clergy, etc..
Back then "many of the 'best' people were members," he says, and Byrd was vulnerable to the anti-Communism rhetoric. http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/2005-06-20-byrd-memoir_x.htm
He indicates that his motives were pure and patriotic, but once he got involved in politics, that he cut his ties to them.
But questions remain. Why did Grand Keagle Byrd write a letter in December 1945 to Senator Theodore Bilbo, a Mississipi Democrat stating the following?
"I would never 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."
Why, in 1964 during the debate over the Civil Rights Act, did this same Senator Robert Byrd fillibuster the passage of the Act for over 14 hours?
Then of course we have our infamous 2002 "white niggers" comment.
In reading the Washington Post and USA Today articles on this, one would think that Byrd was an innocent, patriotic citizen and that it is easy to understand how one would mistake the Ku Klux Klan for a grown version of the Boy Scouts.
I just have one thing to say that I think will cut through all of this nonsense. Imagine that it had been Trent Lott or any Republican in this situation. What would the discussion have been today?