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We Stand Passively Mute Paperback – July, 2004
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This shows a dire need for some historical perspective to untangle a simplistic, sly smear.
In the 1940's, Robert Byrd was a Dixiecrat, as were most whites in the South. He was also briefly a Klansman, also not uncommon in that cultural climate. This is not to excuse it, but merely to note that it is necessary to judge things within the context where they happened. For instance, Lincoln in his time was a radical, opposed to compromise with slavery, and yet in our time, many of his racist pronouncements would be abhorrent. Likewise whichever historical epoch one may study.
It should be noted that white Republicans held the same racial views as the Dixiecrats.
In 1948 the battle began in earnest within the Democratic Party to rid itself of the Dixiecrats, a battle which continued into the Kennedy administration and saw it's last death throes in the George Wallace phenomenon. During this time the odd alliance between labor, progressives and the like in the North with the Dixiecrats in the South became ethically unbearable for the likes of Humphrey, and with good reason. In this time, the terrorism of the white resistance to desegregation went on, and the Democrats stood so firmly for Civil Rights that the alliance with African-Americans was built that lasts to this day.
Byrd's personal trajectory was much the same, and no one can look at his record these past few decades and not honestly acknowledge that his KKK membership 60 years ago is an issue raised precisely because his politics have become progressive. He has done wonderful things in the Senate.Read more ›
Robert Byrd rightly indicts the United States Senate for the acquiescence of its constitutional responsibilities regarding Iraq and he does so as only one of his stature, erudition, and historic insight can do. As a Senate staffer from 2002 to 2005, I had the privilege of hearing the Senator deliver many of these speeches and appreciate the opportunity to hear them once again through the printed page.
When Mr. Byrd publicly repudiates his sordid past in the Klan, and regretfully so, and dispenses with the occasional anti-Semitic remark, only then does Mr. Byrd deserve a readership. Not one moment before. Zell Miller has repudiated a segregationist past not nearly notorious as Bobby Byrd's, and others have to, even Jimmy Carter, but I guess its okay for a bigot who was a member of the Klan and who hates President Bush to deserve a readership, right?