Jewish World Review March 8, 2001 / 13 Adar, 5761
Sen. Robert Byrd, ex-Klansman
EX-KLANSMAN Robert Byrd, the senior senator
from West Virginia, casually used the phrase
"white nigger" twice on national TV this weekend.
Enraged civil rights groups organized a protest
campaign against Sen. Byrd and demanded that
he undergo sensitivity training ... not. The ex-Klansman,
you see, is a Democrat. Democrats can join hate groups
and utter the ugliest racial slurs and get away with it
because they are Democrats. They belong to the party of
racial tolerance and understanding. They're paragons of
virtue, and the rest of us are bigoted rubes.
The ex-Klansman showed his true colors when asked by
Fox News Sunday morning talk show host Tony Snow
about the state of race relations in America. Sen. Byrd
warned: "There are white niggers. I've seen a lot of white
niggers in my time. I'm going to use that word. We just
need to work together to make our country a better
country, and I'd just as soon quit talking about it so much."
The ex-Klansman, famed for Beltway blowhardism, should
have quit talking a lot sooner. Why any prominent
politician in his right mind would publicly and deliberately
use the poisonous epithet "nigger" -- which most daily
newspapers refuse to spell out, no matter the context -- is
beyond comprehension. It's an open question as to
whether the rant-prone, 83-year-old Byrd is even in his
right mind, but senility doesn't excuse bigotry.
The ex-Klansman's admirers praise his historical
knowledge, mastery of procedural rules, and
outspokenness. They refer to the Senate's senior
Democrat as the "conscience of the Senate." They
downplay his white-sheet-wearing days as a "brief
mistake" -- as if joining the Klan were like knocking over a
glass of water. Oopsy.
This ex-Klansman wasn't just a passive member of the
nation's most notorious hate group. According to news
accounts and biographical information, Sen. Byrd was a "Kleagle" -- an official
recruiter who signed up members for $10 a head. He said he joined because it
"offered excitement" and because the Klan was an "effective force" in "promoting
traditional American values." Nothing like the thrill of gathering 'round a midnight
bonfire, roasting s'mores, tying nooses, and promoting white supremacy with a
bunch of your hooded friends.
The ex-Klansman allegedly ended his ties with the group in 1943. He may have
stopped paying dues, but he continued to pay homage to the KKK. Republicans
in West Virginia discovered a letter Sen. Byrd had written to the Imperial Wizard
of the KKK three years after he says he abandoned the group. He wrote: "The
Klan is needed today as never before and I am anxious to see its rebirth here in
West Virginia" and "in every state in the Union."
The ex-Klansman later filibustered the landmark 1964 Civil Rights Act --
supported by a majority of those "mean-spirited" Republicans -- for more than 14
hours. He also opposed the nominations of the Supreme Court's two black
justices, liberal Thurgood Marshall and conservative Clarence Thomas. In fact,
the ex-Klansman had the gall to accuse Justice Thomas of "injecting racism" into
the Senate hearings. Meanwhile, author Graham Smith recently discovered
another letter Sen. Byrd wrote after he quit the KKK, this time attacking
desegregation of the armed forces.
The ex-Klansman vowed never to 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, a
throwback to the blackest specimen from the wilds."
If this ex-Klansman were a conservative Republican, he would never hear the end
of his sordid past. "Ex-Klansman who opposed civil rights and black justices"
would appear in every reference to Sen. Byrd. And even the "ex-" would be in
doubt. Maxine Waters and Ralph Neas and Julianne Malveaux and Al Sharpton
and all the other left-wing bloodhounds who sniff racism in every crevice of
American life would be barking up a storm over Sen. Byrd's latest fulminations.
Instead, the attack dogs are busy decrying latent racial bigotry where it doesn't
exist, while the real thing roams wild and free in their own political
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© 2001, Creators Syndicate