Jewish World Review July 26 2011 / 24 Tamuz, 5771
The Man Who Told the Truth --- About Himself
By Paul Greenberg
http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Our species has a number of formal names in the scientific-sounding Latin. Perhaps the most ironic is Homo sapiens, man the thinker. Especially when you keep coming across thoughtless statements in the news.
But man does use thought -- to rationalize his actions, however dubious. Some of those rationales are ingenious indeed. Even when admitting past wrongs, it is an almost irresistible temptation to add, "but...." As in "I'm sorry, but...." Which is what makes someone who simply confesses and stops there so rare -- and admirable.
All of which brings me to a now almost forgotten name that popped up in the obituary columns the other day:
As part of his Southern Strategy, Mr. Nixon was looking for still another nominee for the high court who hailed from below the Mason-Dixon line. His first two such nominations,
As it turned out that Mr. Poff, too, would have had a lot of explaining to do at his confirmation hearing, specifically about his seggish past. In the end he withdrew his name from consideration -- and would go on to a distinguished career as a justice on
To save his seat in
The gentleman did retain sufficient honor to admit it years later -- in a candid interview that was taped, transcribed and widely circulated at the time. It should be preserved as proof that at least one signer of the Southern Manifesto knew very well what he was doing, and why. As he would confess with typical eloquence:
"I can only say that segregation is wrong today, it was wrong yesterday. Segregation was never right. But it is one of the most lamentable frailties of mankind that when one's wrong is most grievous, his self-justification is most passionate, perhaps in the pitiful hope that the fervor of his self-defense will somehow prove him right. But this doesn't make it so. And he doesn't fool himself."
Or anybody else. Except maybe his fellow rationalizers. Here in
Sen. Fulbright always had the most high-toned excuses for his bargains with racism. Like the need to preserve his long and beneficent influence on American foreign policy. He was the longest-serving chairman of the
The problem with that rationale is that his foreign policy, too, was all too comfortable accommodating evil. Considering his record on or rather against civil rights, it should have come as no surprise when he joined
Maybe that's why the name
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