December 11, 2002
BUZZFLASH READER COMMENTARY
Here's an admittedly selected chronology of quotes from the uproar created by Sen. Lott's apparent "endorsement" of segregationist policies (circa 1948) in the South, culled from various media sources as of Tuesday, December 10, 2002. My apologies for any innaccuracies arising from statements that may have inadvertantly been taken out of context.
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stand for the segregation of the races and the racial integrity of each
race. All the laws of Washington and all the bayonets of the Army cannot
force the Negro into our homes, our schools, our churches."
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THE INITIAL REMARK:
want to say this about my state. When Strom Thurmond ran for president,
we voted for him. We're proud of it. And if the rest of the country had
followed our lead, we wouldn't have had all these problems over all these
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THE DISCLAIMERS SUBSEQUENTLY ISSUED TO THE MEDIA:
was a lighthearted celebration of the 100th birthday of legendary Senator
Strom Thurmond. My comments were not an endorsement of his positions of
over 50 years ago, but of the man and his life."
Lott's remarks were intended to pay tribute to a remarkable man who led
a remarkable life. To read anything more into these comments is wrong."
* * *
FLASHBACK -- SOME RECENT HISTORY:
people in this room stand for the right principles and the right philosophy.
Let's take it in the right direction, and our children will be the beneficiaries."
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THE PUBLIC RESPONSE AND SUBSEQUENT FIRESTORM:
bless Trent Lott."
seems to me that the Republican Party has a simple choice. Either they
get rid of Lott as majority leader; or they should come out formally as
a party that regrets desegregation and civil rights for African-Americans."
on the Republican Party if it does not demote him for promoting this mean-spirited
and immoral propaganda. The civil rights movement was one of America's
finest hours. Strom Thurmond's massive resistance to that movement, and
his support in states like Mississippi, was one of history's low points.
Trent Lott must not be allowed to tarnish that truth."
think that Black Americans shouldn't overreact. By no means was he endorsing
segregation or anything like that. It was lighthearted, it was humorous.
I mean, how could any man be be considered a racist if he captured almost
25% of the black vote?"
is not a small thing for one of the half-dozen most prominent political
leaders in America to say that our problems are caused by integration
and that we should have had a segregationist candidate. That is divisive,
and it is divisive along racial lines. Sen. Lott should apologize; failing
that, the Senate should seriously entertain a motion of censure for his
having made such a racist statement."
Lott should resign, so as to make way for another member of the Republican
Party whose moral compass is pointed toward improving race relations and
not dredging up this nation's poor, polarizing performance of the past."
has a record, unmatched by any other current leading Republicans, of paying
homage to a romanticized view of the 'Old South.' He doesn't seem to care
if he leaves a trail of what some consider to be off-handed racially charged
came out of his mouth was the most emphatic repudiation of desegregation
to be heard from a national political figure since George Wallace's first
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poor choice of words conveyed to some the impression that I embrace the
digarded policies of the past. Nothing could be further from the truth,
and I apologize to anyone who was offended by my statement."
* * *
... SOME REACTIONS:
President thinks Americans take pride in the tremendous strides and changes
and improvements that have been made in race relations since 1948. We
were a nation that needed to change. Sen. Lott has apologized for his
statement and the President understands that that is the final word from
can apologize all he wants. It doesn't remove the sentiment that escaped
his mouth that day."
consider this as a Democratic Party issue, and the party should take into
consideration what message this and other kinds of statements are sending
to the African American community."
very, very troubled at the attitude expressed in his remarks, considering
that he is fourth in line for the presidency. I think he needs to step
down and I'm going to do all I can to see that that occurs."
sends a chilling message to all people. These are the kinds of words that
tear this nation apart. We are going to do something about it."
* * *
... AND A FINAL WORD:
"In such a situation one doesn't want to appear to be flogging a dead horse even after the guy has a apologized. And to me this issue transcends partisanship so I especially would not want to appear to be doing that. But frankly this strikes me as a pretty feeble apology. He won't say what 'policies' he's talking about. He won't say they're wrong, just that they were 'discarded'.
"It's probably too much to ask for him to get down on his knees and confess his sins. But given Lott's history of flirtation with neo-segregationist politics and the seriousness of the original statement, something a bit more explicit and specific was and is in order.
why so grudging? Why so hard to say that he knows, like everyone else
knows, that segregation was wrong? It's like getting blood from a stone."
* * *
Did Sen. Trent Lott really "misspeak" last Thursday at Sen. Strom Thurmond's 100th birthday party? Was it truly "lighthearted" and "humorous," as GOP activist Kevin Martin stated. Do African Americans have a right to be concerned or alarmed, or are they merely "overreacting"?
To be perfectly honest, only Sen. Lott himself knows for certain what was truly in his heart when he made those remarks last Thursday.
However, in closing, please consider the following excerpts from an interview Trent Lott granted to "Southern Partisan" magazine 18 years ago (Volume IV, April 1984), and then ask yourself if this is the type of person who should be setting the agenda of the United States Senate:
"I think that a lot of the fundamental principles that Jefferson Davis believed in are very important to people across the country, and they apply to the Republican Party ... After the War between the States, a lot of Southerners identified with the Democrat Party because of the radical Republicans we had at that time, particularly in the Senate. The South was wedded to that party for years and years and years.
"But we have seen the Republican Party become more conservative and more oriented toward the traditional family values, the religious values that we hold dear in the South. And the Democratic party is going in the other direction. As a result, more and more of The South's sons, Jefferson Davis' descendants, direct or indirect, are becoming involved with the Republican party.
platform we had in Dallas, the 1984 Republican platform, all the ideas
we supported there - from tax policy, to foreign policy; from individual
rights, to neighborhood security - are things that Jefferson Davis and
his people believed in."
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otherwise noted, all original