Not Just Whistling Dixie
December 15, 2002 5:39 PM   Subscribe

The neo-Confederacy movement is a potent force in the Republican Party in today's South, as Trent Lott's comments about Strom Thurmond demonstrate. Trent Lott has neo-Confederate ties, as does John Ashcroft who praised Jefferson Davis in an interview with the Southern Partisan magazine. Associated with the United Daughters of the Confederacy and the Sons of Confederate Veterans, adherents of the neo-Confederate movement can even buy T-shirts gloating transforming the Republican Party into Abraham Lincoln's worst nightmare.
posted by jonp72 (71 comments total)

 
Um, Lincoln was as much a segrigationist as Strom Thurman.
posted by delmoi at 5:47 PM on December 15, 2002


Robert Byrd, the Democratic elder statesman Senator from West Virginia and ex-Klu Klux Klan member says...

"White Nigger"

The liberal press yawns.
posted by paleocon at 5:55 PM on December 15, 2002


Ahh, the union of implication, fear, conspiracy, and evil ideology. No matter what person X is saying on subject Y it's a lie. The _real_ truth is underneath and is carefully controlled and hidden.

Do people really expect some sort of Simpsonesque changover? The South is going to flip over and people toting cannons are going to appear out of secret underground caves launching some long planned assault on the union? I don't disagree that this makes great copy, but it just boggles the rational mind.
posted by rudyfink at 5:59 PM on December 15, 2002


paleocon: link that story?
posted by lazaruslong at 6:05 PM on December 15, 2002


Google it, dude.

Here.
posted by techgnollogic at 6:16 PM on December 15, 2002


They wanna secede? Let 'em.
posted by adamgreenfield at 6:16 PM on December 15, 2002


Delmoi--assuming you mean "Strom Thurmond," is the point you're trying to make that his views on civil rights are more than 100 years out of date? Because that seems to be the point you ***made****.

And Paleocon, Byrd made the "white nigger" remark in an interview with Fox News. Some coverage by the "liberal press" included this story in the New Republic:

http://www.tnr.com/061101/3driver061101.html

This story from the American Prospect:

http://www.prospect.org/webfeatures/2002/03/thrupkaew-n-03-27.html

This story from Salon:

http://archive.salon.com/people/cheapshots/2001/03/08/animals/
Those seem to be pretty high-profile representations of the "liberal press." The Nation doesn't have all its stories online, but I'm pretty sure I read about it there, too.

Here's a newsflash for you--most liberals don't like Robert Byrd because he's a former Klansman who has spent his legislative career deeply embedded in pork-barrel politics and backscratching. For some reason he didn't follow Strom Thurmond into the Republican Party when the rest of the "yellow dogs" jumped ship...
posted by Sidhedevil at 6:19 PM on December 15, 2002


There's a reasonably good article about the Byrd thing on Salon.

Note to Hannity, Limbaugh and ditto-heads: Byrd is not Lott
posted by boltman at 6:19 PM on December 15, 2002


And, by the way--two wrongs don't make a right. Robert Byrd being a racist doesn't make Trent Lott any less of a racist. This is real life, not grade school.

I personally don't think Trent Lott should resign, because I think his views are absolutely representative of the current state of thinking in the Republican Party. I'm sure he would be much happier in an America which was spared the "problems" of the Truman and Eisenhower administrations...
posted by Sidhedevil at 6:22 PM on December 15, 2002


We're discussing Robert Byrd versus Trent Lott here? What's the big fight? Our asshole is better than your asshole or something. Both mean a bigoted nitwits who in no way can be calle drepresentative of their entire party. But that dosen't make for a food-fight level discussion does it? I used to expect a higher level of discourse round here, but not so much any more.
posted by jonmc at 6:25 PM on December 15, 2002


Why is what Lott said causing the bigger controversy? Because he directly mentioned what he thought were "problems" the nation may have avoided if Thurmond had been elected. How much of politics is about solving problems? How important is the Senate Majority Leader in regard to solving problems (which, of course, are usually subjectively defined - one person's problem is another's condition).

Byrd, by contrast, used a racial ephithet in a thoughtless way, and did so in reference to white people regardless.
posted by raysmj at 6:39 PM on December 15, 2002


something tells me tom delays closet has at least as many skeletons as Lott and Ashcroft combined. josh has done as much background work on the lott debacle as any of the big media outlets.
posted by specialk420 at 6:44 PM on December 15, 2002


Trent Lott is neither a racist nor a segregationist, he's just a sloppy politician who said something that could be interpreted as being politically incorrect (i.e., he signed his political death warrant).

He screwed up and gave people an easy way to keep the words "Republican" and "racist" in the news, regardless of their accuracy. Every "outraged" Democrat leader out there condemning Lott knows full well what he meant by it, but they're turning it into a racial issue because they know it's an easy way to assassinate him without getting blood on their hands.

All this righteous indignation is fun and everything, but at some point people need to grow up and realize that this has nothing to do with racism, and everything to do with the political popularity contest.
posted by oissubke at 6:57 PM on December 15, 2002


Sorry, I don't feel bad for Lott, or the Republicans on this issue. Lott has only himself to blame for this trouble and the fact that he's been known to associate with "segregationist" groups just doesn't make him look misunderstood at all.
And oissubke, as long as Republicans continue to tolerate bigots and racists within thier ranks, the words "Republican" and "racist" will be linked.
posted by black8 at 7:25 PM on December 15, 2002


Why is Lott not a racist? I understand that one would have difficulty demonstrating that he IS one. But why can you say he ISN"T one? What evidence have you?
posted by danisaacs at 7:30 PM on December 15, 2002


Every "outraged" Democrat leader out there condemning Lott knows full well what he meant by it

Yes, he meant that if we had kept segregation in place we would have avoided lots of problems. It's not like he said it in some kind of racist code language--his statement was about as direct and up front about it as one could get without actually using the word "segregation." Absent any evidence to the contrary, I'd say that's pretty darn good evidence of racism.
posted by boltman at 7:32 PM on December 15, 2002


Trent Lott is neither a racist nor a segregationist, he's just a sloppy politician

He has a habit of sloppiness, then. From his voting to keep his fraternity segregated -- not just his house, but all chapters, mind -- to his affiliation with the CCC, whitewashed successor to the WCC, to his support of Bob Jones U as some sort of beacon of freedom, to his saying almost the same fucking thing in 1980. He's a racist knuckledragger who accidentally said what he was thinking in public. Note for people not in / from the South: it's entirely possible for a racist knuckledragger to be educated, well-read, and erudite. They're not all bumbling caricatures of rednecks.

It's an elementary signaling-theory problem. Lott goes on and on about how he's not really a neo-segregationist, but he has any number of ulterior motives for saying that even if it's false. But what ulterior motive would he have for saying what he did? If there isn't one, what else could his comments possibly mean but either what he was really thinking or some sort of Freudian slip, which also isn't terribly nice? Like most of the time in signaling problems, you get a lot more information by watching how people fuck up than by watching them successfully put on a show for you.

Every "outraged" Democrat leader out there condemning Lott knows full well what he meant by it

What did he mean by it, then? What could he have possibly meant other than to express support for Thurmond's 1948 campaign? He was proud that his state voted for Thurmond -- not ashamed, not troubled by, not proud that they'd moved on from it, but proud that in 1948, the good people of MS (well, the white ones anyway, or at least the white ones that weren't busy lynching or sicking attack dogs on people) voted for someone whose only promises were to keep the nigger out of our schools, our pools, and our churches, and for keeping those damn federal officers from punishing lynchings. I can't see any other way to parse the words that undeniably came out of his mouth, unless you mean to assert that his speech was entirely without content, which would also be troubling. I've mostly been wondering what "all these problems" we have now are that would have been solved by keeping the nigger out of our pools and churches, but I'm often curious about all kinds of things.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 7:47 PM on December 15, 2002


oissubke, I am not a democratic leader, but I don't know what you mean about knowing full well what Lott meant by "And if the rest of the country had followed our lead, we wouldn't have had all these problems over all these years."
I thought maybe there was more to the 1948 platform than perhaps I realized, but this is what I found. Perhaps you can explain Lott's words in the context of this:

"We stand for the segregation of the races. . . . We oppose the elimination of segregation employment by Federal bureaucrats called for by the misnamed civil rights program. . . . We condemn the action of the Democratic convention in sponsoring a civil rights program."

At the convention, Thurmond was even more blunt: "Ladies and gentlemen. . . there's not enough troops in the Army to force the Southern people to break down segregation and admit the nigger race into our theaters, into our swimming pools, into our homes and into our churches."

In Mississippi, a flier urging a vote for the Thurmond ticket warned that "A vote for Truman electors is a direct order to our congressmen and senators to vote for passage of Truman's so-called civil rights program in the next Congress. This means the vicious . . . anti-poll tax, anti-lynching and anti-segregation proposals will become the law of the land and our way of life in the South will be gone forever. source

Thurmond ran on a campaign that was actually anti anti-lynching? Yikes. Well so what did Lott actually mean by his statement that we should understand?
posted by madamjujujive at 8:12 PM on December 15, 2002


I'm not sure if this was linked or not, but if it's of any reference, here's the actual Southern Democrat platform ticket Strom Thurmond ran on in 1948. This is, specifically, the ticket Thurmond ran on that Lott wished Thurmond had won.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 8:52 PM on December 15, 2002


Thurmond's States' Rights ticket won only 2.4% of the popular vote (=1.17 million), but that was concentrated in the Deep South so as to take S.C., Miss., Ala., and La. (39 electoral votes).
posted by Zurishaddai at 9:16 PM on December 15, 2002


Here's a copy from the Smoking Gun of the 1948 Dixiecrat platform (as opposed to the sample ballot). Here's the 1948 Republican platform for good measure. If Lott had merely wanted to uphold conservative principles in his tribute to Thurmond, he could have made reference to the 1948 Republican platform or he could have praised Thurmond for switching parties during the 1964 Goldwater campaign. Because of this, I think it's overreaching to assume that Lott's reference to the "problems" after the 1948 election can be attributed to a generalized antipathy to Big Government.
posted by jonp72 at 12:09 AM on December 16, 2002


Thank goodness the only possible thing he could have meant by "problem" was the issue of race. How do you know what he meant? Truthfully, what do you know and what are just blanks you are filling in with something that fits your fancy.

It was dumb. He's a big boy and should know better. He should know enough to carefully watch, consider, and double check any sentence he forms in public. Otherwise someone might misspeak something like twenty (maybe 30 or 40) words at a banquet, supposedly speaking off the cuff, and read the paper the next morning to find out they're a racist. Mind you in this case he didn't even say anything racist. Thank goodness we end the careers of public servants over such things.

If anything people should make fun of him for speaking about the general sentiment of a state about an event that occured when he was seven (7) years old.

I appologize if this is ill constructed. It is just immensely frustrating to watch someone go through the insanity of something like this.
posted by rudyfink at 12:21 AM on December 16, 2002


Hey rudy, this was not "slip", Lott didn't misspeak. He said exactly what he meant and THIS TIME people connected the dots.
posted by black8 at 12:44 AM on December 16, 2002


Fair enough, but how do you know it was not a slip? How do you know what he meant? How do you know he didn't misspeak?

I don't. How do you?

Seriously, try people on evidence. Don't ruin someone based on what you think they meant or what you assume.

You may be correct. Lott may be 110% racist, but that point should be demonstrated on something more than implication, assumption, and vaguery.
posted by rudyfink at 1:39 AM on December 16, 2002


Um, Lincoln was as much a segrigationist as Strom Thurman.
The point about Lincoln was that he was an abolitionist. It would have been asking too much for him to handle complete integration of the races. Very few white Americans other than perhaps John Brown were amenable to it. You can judge an old man like Thurmond by how he has changed with the times. Lott, however, in the 21st century, should not hold up the Dixiecrat candidate of 1948 and say that was the right direction for the country.
posted by planetkyoto at 2:35 AM on December 16, 2002


Rudy, please tell me, if he "misspoke" both this time and, as it's been pointed out, back in '80 when he said the same frickin' thing, what else could he have possibly meant? Is it so ungenerous to assume the most straightforward meaning possible from his statement, to take his words completely at face value, to imagine that having said this at least twice now, Trent Lott actually meant to imply what that sentence does? Do you honestly think that racism is so completely eviscerated that when we find such bold evidence of it in places of high power, we should automatically begin looking for an excuse, however unlikely, because it just isn't possible that Trent Lott is an unrepentant bigot who happens to be relatively taciturn about his views?

1948, people. My dad was 8 years old; Trent Lott was 7. Mississippi would go on to uphold segregation for almost 20 years after this point. It wasn't an eternity ago; it wasn't the dark ages. We have not become so enlightened in these few decades since that racism is now extinct. It lives, it cripples and destroys, and how can we excuse ourselves if we don't root it out and make an example of it?
posted by grrarrgh00 at 4:50 AM on December 16, 2002


It lives, it cripples and destroys...

Dramatic!

1948 WAS a long time ago. Racism may not be extinct. But it's also a mistake to be so quick to toss that label around so casually.
posted by Witty at 5:10 AM on December 16, 2002


But it's also a mistake to use that word so sparingly, as thought it couldn't be.
posted by grrarrgh00 at 5:15 AM on December 16, 2002


As though.
posted by grrarrgh00 at 5:15 AM on December 16, 2002


I don't think Lott should be summarily dismissed just yet. That's not to say that I don't find his intimations (combined with a pretty offensive congressional voting record on civil rights issues) caustic--it just means that this presents the American public with another pointed opportunity to confront bigotry, and we should be smart enough to choose candid discourse over the crucifixion strategy of dealing with offensive ideology, which threatens to drive much needed reflection and debate back underground.

His comments (combined with the demostrable legislative bias) are worthy of censure; no doubt about that. But Lott has (essentially) said, and seems to believe, that he is not a bigot. Add to that the fact that those who know him personally seem to agree that he's not a racist. Fair enough--Republicans and the American public still has a problem that won't be solved with his departure. Whatever fueled Lott's inadvertent exposure of our long-standing flirtation with racism and the general appeal of discrimination among the disaffected is not an anomoly. Worse yet, it has taken on a much more refined demeanor--so much so it's apparently easy for some to delude themselves into believing that it has no influence on their judgment.

It seems we've entered a new era of battling discrimination, and this could just as easily be seen as an opportunity for the nation to learn along with Lott how to take another step in a more noble direction.

Or maybe I'm just getting soft in my old age.
posted by Tiger_Lily at 5:29 AM on December 16, 2002


But it's also a mistake to use that word so sparingly, as thought it couldn't be.

I don't think we have a problem with "sparingly" labeling people in this country.
posted by Witty at 5:30 AM on December 16, 2002


Well said Tiger_Lily.
posted by Witty at 5:32 AM on December 16, 2002


Tiger_Lily, they can't have it both ways. If this is an issue of racism which is deeply-rooted and needs to be addressed, then you certainly can't support the Republican's current position of playing the Byrd card and whining "look, YOU'VE got racists too!" as if that helps.

Or if that is an equal comparison. The difference, since many are asking, can be found in the Salon link boltman provided way up at the top of the thread. Byrd's quote is amazingly relevant:

"That's easy," he replied. "The greatest mistake I ever made was joining the Ku Klux Klan. And I've said that many times. But one cannot erase what he has done. He can only change his ways and his thoughts. That was an albatross around my neck that I will always wear."

In the three (or is it four?) public statements Lott has made to address his comments, not once has he simply said "yes. I said something racist. I fucked up. I'm a racist, I'm a fuckwit, I'm going to have to deal with that the rest of my life and I can only hope you continue to support me and believe I won't do it again." Granted, the fact that reporters claim to have at least two instances of him "doing it again" shatters that idea.

The problem, Tiger_Lily, is just what you said- Lott doesn't believe he's a bigot. He's not trying to admit the alcoholism, he's trying to hide the bottle while getting all of his friends to talk about what a great guy he is at parties. It's like the old line "oh, I'm not a racist- my butler's black." If we really are going pass off his repeated examples of this racism-in-denial as a cultural change that Lott hasn't addressed, than my only conclusion is that failing to notice such a drastic change in culture that makes such stupid statements taboo, private or publicly, rises to a level of outright ignorance that makes Lott unfit for office.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 6:57 AM on December 16, 2002


When I first read about this I wondered if Lott wasn't idealizing something else other than the dixiecrat's racist legacy. There's a lot of semi-libertarian talk about small government and states rights that's still a big part southern politics that I could easily seeing confusing people into thinking there's a baby in the bathwater. It now strikes me that Lott should have known better but I did wonder for a while there.

In related news I'm really proud of George Bush for saying what he did about it.
posted by wobh at 7:07 AM on December 16, 2002


In related news I'm really proud of George Bush for saying what he did about it.

You mean the day after the comment, when he said that he stood "firmly behind" Lott?

(I'm looking for a link.)
posted by goethean at 7:47 AM on December 16, 2002


well, how did the south feel about such organizations as G.A.R. Would a southern republican join such a club?
posted by clavdivs at 8:15 AM on December 16, 2002


Let us know when you find it, goethean. Bush did not personally comment on the matter until 12/11.
posted by Slithy_Tove at 8:22 AM on December 16, 2002


suggested 2004 gop campaign slogans:

words don't mean things.
party before principal.
separate but equal.
posted by lescour at 8:42 AM on December 16, 2002


I think I was thinking of an Ari Fleischer response, actually...I mis-remembered it as a Bush quote. But Ari's words are official white house responses.
posted by goethean at 8:42 AM on December 16, 2002


ok, I found it...turns out not to be as big a deal after all (unless you think that supporting a segregationist for Senate majority leader is a big deal).
Q So the President thinks that this matter should be --

MR. FLEISCHER: I just think, from the President's point of view, all Americans should take great pride in the fact that we are changed society since 1948; tremendous strides and changes and improvements have been made in the way we treat fellow Americans in the terms of race and equality. And the President looks at the history of our nation as one that -- we were a nation that needed to change. The changes that were brought by the civil rights community were healthy, constructive changes that have made us a stronger and a richer and a better society. And I speak for the President.

Q And he's confident that Senator Lott, given this comment and given his history, embraces those changes sufficiently to be the Republican leader of the United States Senate?

MR. FLEISCHER: The President has confidence in him as Republican leader, unquestionably.

posted by goethean at 8:52 AM on December 16, 2002


oissubke doesn't have the faintest idea whether Lott's a racist or not, he's just on automatic pilot. Liberals attacking a conservative! Must defend with vigor! Of course, liberals do the same thing (cf. Clinton).
posted by languagehat at 9:58 AM on December 16, 2002


An interesting passage from William Saletan's Friday take on the Rebpublican critics of Lott:

How many conservatives who denounced Lott this week appreciate the civil rights movement? How many have made careers out of deriding feminism, as though the women's movement achieved nothing? How many worship Ronald Reagan, who helped defeat the Equal Rights Amendment? How many defend Helms, who in 1990 defeated a black opponent by complaining in an ad that whites were losing jobs to blacks because of quotas? How many speak congenially to people who support them for what they know are ugly reasons? How many worry about the overlap between the positions of segregationists and the positions of people such as themselves, who defend the rights of states, neighborhoods, and private institutions? How many refuse to see that you can't be nice to racists without being callous to the people they despise?

If politeness to bigots, comfort with principles congenial to them, and amnesia about struggles for equal rights are now crimes worthy of ending people's careers, then let the inquisition begin. Lott's accusers will be sorry they started it.


Thank you, XQUZYPHYR, for posting the Robert Byrd quote in the face paleocon's for-the-third-time boilerplate dittohead "but Robert Byrd was in the KKK!" whine with which Steve_At_Linnwood so annoyed when he trotted out the same same lame bon mot sometime back. One might quote Charles Pierce writing to Eric Alterman here :

In the middle of the 1960’s, the Republican party made a conscious — and, as Pat Buchanan has argued, a deeply pragmatic — choice to align itself with the nastier flotsam of the American racist past. This wasn’t about affirmative action or quotas or any of the subsequent hot buttons. This was about lining up against the Voting Rights Act, and the Public Accommodations laws, and the Civil Rights acts, and everything else that we all deeply revere when we think about how Martin King died so white folks could feel better about themselves. And the modern Republican party never has had its feet held to the fire over it by anyone.

And note, planetkyoto, that, even in his own words--quoted and cited by Tim Noah's Chatterbox at Slate--Strom Thurmond's celebrated about face on race is a myth, not a fact.

oissubke may be on automatic pilot here, languagehat, but what was MidasMulligan on when he tried to spin Thurmond's 1948 presidential race? Now there's a headscratcher....
posted by y2karl at 10:26 AM on December 16, 2002


I meant when he said "Every day our nation was segregated was a day that America was unfaithful to our founding ideals. And the founding ideals of our nation and in fact the founding ideals of the political party I represent, was, and remains today, the equal dignity and equal rights of every American."

As eloquent a statement I've ever heard him make.
posted by wobh at 10:32 AM on December 16, 2002


On second thought I don't know so much about the "political party I represent" part but that part also looks like a rhetorical elbow in Lott's side so I'm letting it go.
posted by wobh at 10:56 AM on December 16, 2002


First Trent Lott. then Ted gets the boot on Survivor. Will the madness never end?
posted by Mack Twain at 11:17 AM on December 16, 2002


“We’d be happy to send you up some if you need any” - nice one trent.
posted by specialk420 at 1:16 PM on December 16, 2002


XQUZYPHYR,
I hope I'm not being mistaken here as giving Lott a 'Good Ol' Boy' "pass" for being behind the times. I just don't see the merit in treating him the same way we would a card-carrying member of the Aryan Nation. If he insists, and those who know him agree, that the contempt that we usually associate with racism does not counsel him--then we're working with a different, but equally dangerous, animal here.
You're right about the the "You're guilty too!" defense being a handy way to deflect criticism. The trouble with dismissing it offhandedly is it that it also happens to be true. The 'albatros' is still rampant in our society (Lott style) -- it's just become less overtly expressed (former-Byrd style).
The issue you raise about having it "both ways" is precisely why Lott found himself in trouble here. He's been privy to advantage in race discrimination and feels free to use it legislatively, even as he recognizes that it shouldn't be influencing him. And he's definitely not alone in that duplicity. Lott, for good or ill, has inadvertently marked himself as the fitting personification of that phenomenon that creeps just below the surface of "respectable" society. So chucking him out the door won't make a dent in the problem, but it may make "having it both ways" a helluva lot harder to detect in future. I just can't fathom how that's supposed to be more helpful in the long run, than if we just grab this issue by the balls and deal with it.
posted by Tiger_Lily at 3:31 PM on December 16, 2002


Lott is really just a stand-in for an entire culture that is referenced in this post (great post by the way). He may or may not be a racist, he may or may not be a good person. I suspect he does not want or mean to be a racist, but the culture he comes from holds several conflicting truths-- they know that racism is wrong and bad, but have a reverence for a segregated past that never was.

So is it right for one man to bear the political fallout? I'm not sure, but the culture that he is immersed in and a part of is in conflict with mainstream American values, especially after 9/11, when we evaluated this country and really were proud of the good things, paramount among them equal rights for all. So he might have to 'take one for the team' and resign his post as leader of the party in order to make a statement about American values that all of us share. That sucks for him, but the party and the country will be better off if this culture is repudiated at the national level one more time.
posted by cell divide at 4:08 PM on December 16, 2002


(great post by the way)

agree...
posted by y2karl at 8:21 PM on December 16, 2002


To mix a metaphor, what we have here is a case of a devil's bargain and the chickens coming home to roost. Finally, perhaps. This isn't so much Newsfilter as it is History. And the drama...
posted by y2karl at 8:32 PM on December 16, 2002


great post by the way

Aaarrrggghhh! No. Did anyone actually read the main FPP link? It's a mish-mash of wild accusations and guilt-by-association crap. It acually tries to link the libertarians with the Confederate nostalgia gang, which is sort of like saying vegetarians are secretly conspiring with McDonalds. It's just awful.

And these stuck-in-time would-be Confederates will be a 'potent force' in the Republican party when the Confederate Air Force flies sorties over Baghdad. Conservatives are voicing less support for Lott than Tom Daschle is.

If you guys want to discuss l'affaire Lott, fine. But the post isn't very good.
posted by Slithy_Tove at 9:47 PM on December 16, 2002


I can't think the country will be better off for kicking someone out of office just for being associated inferentially with racism. Someone is so clearly ideologically dangerous that they must be removed from office because of a short comment--a comment that is unarguably subject to interpretation and a man so ideologically dangerous that there was no outcry or mention before the fact.

I understand the desire to make examples of bad ideology, but this is far from a clear cut case. Sacrficing someone at the alter of fear or malice for doing no wrong is a very poor example. I am stunned that many seem quite content to make that leap without hesitation. Perhaps, it is just that the idea of "reasonable doubt" is a very sliding scale.
posted by rudyfink at 12:20 AM on December 17, 2002


when the Confederate Air Force flies sorties over

They're the Commemorative Air Force now, though I suspect their charter still calls for a downed pilot to be revived with a mint julep.

And don't knock 'em. They put on a hell of a show, if you can stomach going to Midland-Odessa to see it. It's complete with mock bombing runs with big booms that, according to the announcers repeated statements, DON'T GLORIFY WAR, and concludes with the B-29 _Fifi_ making a mock a-bomb run complete with big boom and mushroom cloud. That last was actually done tastefully in a never-again sort of way.

And at least one of ``their'' planes is a P-51 decked out like a redtail from the Tuskegees.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 12:30 AM on December 17, 2002


I can't think the country will be better off for kicking someone out of office just for being associated inferentially with racism.

I'm a proud Democrat, but I agree. I'm a little taken aback by the intensity of this furor. I think Senator Lott probably still has somewhat racist leanings, but if he does, that certainly wasn't made clear at Senator Thurmond's party. And his mea culpa on BET yesterday was shocking in its abjectivity. You almost felt humiliated for him. If Senator Lott was fit to be the GOP Senate leader three years ago, he's done nothing to alter that now. I think he probably wasn't fit to lead it three years ago, and in that sense would be glad to see Senator Frist replace him, and am even glad that the GOP is now experiencing some of the infighting that so often plagues Democrats, but I worry that the blogosphere, and the media, can essentially remove the most powerful man in the American congress from his position inbetween elections because of a vague off-the-cuff remark.
posted by gsteff at 1:54 AM on December 17, 2002


Except is wasn't just an "off the cuff remark". Mr. Lott has said what he said before. This time, people were listening.
posted by black8 at 4:07 AM on December 17, 2002


Rudyfink, gsteff: Lott is not just "associated inferentially with racism"; his entire career has been based on racism. He didn't just make an "off the cuff remark"; he's been saying this stuff all his life. As black8 says, people are finally paying attention and taking offense. His downfall is well deserved.
posted by languagehat at 7:50 AM on December 17, 2002


Rudyfink, gsteff, etc - not to invoke a certain law or anything, but if a similar remark had been made in regard to, e.g., a former nazi who had run on a platform supporting lynching and segregation of jews, would you guys find it so easy to reinterpret or dismiss?

It's kind of amazing Thurmond is widely respected by his party despite his past, but people who are conscious of what his policies meant at very least are extremely careful about praise & stick to congratulating him on having moved on from his reprehensible views. To make a supportive comment about his 1948 campaign at all seems unacceptable to me; to expand it to wishing he'd won so we wouldn't have "all these problems" today is blatantly bigoted. I honestly don't see how else you can interpret it.
posted by mdn at 11:42 AM on December 17, 2002


Joe Conason thinks it's time to examine Ashcroft's connections with the neo-Confederates, and Josh Marshall is wondering if Larry King is going to ask Ashcroft about them tonight (I doubt it.)
posted by homunculus at 2:06 PM on December 17, 2002


Before the deleted thread drops off of lofi forever, I would like to post, what I see, as some of the freshest commentary yet on this whole inane furor. It began when a poster called aldafar spewed some cheap Lott-style opportunism:

Since no one else seems to realize it, I'll go ahead and say it:

The best thing for the Democratic party, and left leaning people in general, is for Trent Lott to stay on board as Majority leader.

With him at the helm, Republicans are forced to acknowledge the underlying bigotry that has - since the time of Lincoln - run throughout the party.

Should Lott resign, he'll be replaced by a conservative with nearly identical views (Nickels voted against MLK as well), but tighter lips. Whomever it should turn out to be, this leader will be able to claim that the Republicans have solved the problem of racism in the party without really changing anything.

Which is why conservatives clamor for his resignation while influential liberals have remained largely silent.
posted by aladfar at 11:55 AM PST on December 17


MidasMulligan responds:

With him at the helm, Republicans are forced to acknowledge the underlying bigotry that has - since the time of Lincoln - run throughout the party.

Odd statement. Little blurry on the ol' history there. More Democrats than Republicans voted against the Civil Rights Act. An alternative perspective (assuming that we've now officially entered the highly polarized world of gross generalizations and cheap soundbites) would be to say "With him at the helm, Democrats will be able to continue playing the race card, which hadn't been working too well in recent elections".

Somehow, when Lott speaks at a birthday party and makes an offhand comment about Helms, it leads to the loss of all moral credibility, and the self-satisfied allegation that the entire Republican party needs to acknowledge it's "racism". But when someone like Jesse Jackson makes references to "Hymietown", not only doesn't it mean that Democrats are "racist", it doesn't even affect his stature as a left-wing "moral" leader. Hhhmmm.


This whole notion that Democratic policy is somehow fundamentally pro-black, while conservative policy is anti-black, is an article of faith. The Republican party has acted admirably on this fiasco, and took the initiative in raking in its own extremists, and defining what it truly stands for on race in this country. Which, like the Democratic philosophy, is something that is ideologically pro-black and based in equality. Republicans have taken the high-road on this one, and acted in good faith instead of simply reacting expediently to political climate. No one needed to 'test the waters' before making a move, here. Now I suggest its time for the Democrats et al to be the noble ones, and not turn this into an occasion for political opportunism in the vein of William Salaten and aldafar. I'm not suggesting that this is what everyone is doing, but its definitely something that has surfaced and that I find distressing. We can disagree with eachother in this country without necessarily vilifying competing ideas, or tying every moment of the past into issues of the present.
posted by dgaicun at 3:03 PM on December 17, 2002


btw [emphasis mine] on the Midas quotes. Sorry Midas.
posted by dgaicun at 3:08 PM on December 17, 2002


Republicans have taken the high-road on this one, and acted in good faith instead of simply reacting expediently to political climate. No one needed to 'test the waters' before making a move, here.

What?! This bubbled up slowly and was strongly downplayed by republicans when it was first spoken against. They have only changed their tune as it has become clear that the comments are a big deal. See, e.g., what Midas had to say about the whole thing when it began! It's utterly ridiculous to say the republicans are not thinking of the political impact this could have.
posted by mdn at 3:47 PM on December 17, 2002


But when someone like Jesse Jackson makes references to "Hymietown", not only doesn't it mean that Democrats are "racist", it doesn't even affect his stature as a left-wing "moral" leader. Hhhmmm.

If many Democrats had troubling links to anti-Jewish groups, and Jackson's words were seen as in some way representative of the extremists in the party, this would work. I for one don't think anyone should be drummed out of politics or their jobs for one or even two remarks. But a pattern of pro-segregationalist affiliation is something else, and Lott is really just the fall guy for a party that has too many links to a vision of the country that most Americans reject.
posted by cell divide at 4:04 PM on December 17, 2002


mdn,

What?! This bubbled up slowly and was strongly downplayed by republicans when it was first spoken against.

Did you read the NYT article? People on the right were the first and strongest to challenge Lott's slip. I watched it unfold. Andrew Sullivan, David Frum, and Instapundit came out first, followed by WSJ and WaPo conservative Op-ed. Daschle's the one who apologized for Lott, not Bush. No one down-played anything, it was an inconsequential gaffe to some, an outrageous blasphemy to others. But it was the political right who were most responsible for whipping this whole thing up into the controversy it turned out to be.

btw, i gotta reply in work, for that free-will thing

If many Democrats had troubling links to anti-Jewish groups, and Jackson's words were seen as in some way representative of the extremists in the party, this would work

Cell divide, grow-up. Both the Left and the Right produce extremists. You act like left-wing racism and anti-Semitism doesn't exist. Like a Democratic big-wig has never cosied-up to Louis Farrakhan or anything. Also, I don't know who exactly is advocating reinstituting racial segregation in this country, but I guarantee you they are an extremely small and marginal minority.
Stop acting like the right is any more dangerous or sinful than the left in this country, it just ain't so.
posted by dgaicun at 5:45 PM on December 17, 2002


This whole situation certainly puts the lie to those who say (including many on MetaFilter) that racism is not a problem in America today.

But it was the political right who were most responsible for whipping this whole thing up into the controversy it turned out to be.

Absolute unadulterated bullshit.

Is GW Bush calling for Lott's departure? Where was he and the rest of the Republican party over the years as Lott has spouted off his racist nonsense?

From the Newsweek article: "But White House officials, afraid of offending 'the base' - the Southern white conservatives who elected Lott and Bush -- were careful not to openly work for Lott's ouster".

Yeah, Bush and the right are really, really ballsy on this one. And Republicans really showed outrage in '79, when Lott fought desegregation, in 1981 when he tried to get Bob Jones University tax breaks because "racial discrimination does not always violate public policy", in 1983 when Lott voted against Martin Luther King Day, in 1984 when he called the Civil War "the war of Northern aggression, and in 1992 when he spoke before a group of segregationists, noting that "people in this room stand for the right principles."

Yeah, Republicans have really come down hard on Lott. They came down so hard they propelled him to leadership rolls in the Republican party over years. Pathetic.

Where were the Republicans then? Where are they now? Which party uses code words like "states right" in presidential campaigns? Which party used "Willie Horton" campaign ads? Who tried to smear John McCain with leaflets, telephone calls, and emails about his "black child"? Who spoke at Bob Jones University in the last campaign? Which party works actively to end affirmative action?

And exactly how extreme does someone have to be in the Republican party before heads will finally roll? What do you have to say -- "Sieg Heil?" This should be a no-brainer to any but the current inhabitants of power in Washington.

Cell divide, grow-up. Both the Left and the Right produce extremists. You act like left-wing racism and anti-Semitism doesn't exist. Like a Democratic big-wig has never cosied-up to Louis Farrakhan or anything. Also, I don't know who exactly is advocating reinstituting racial segregation in this country, but I guarantee you they are an extremely small and marginal minority.
Stop acting like the right is any more dangerous or sinful than the left in this country, it just ain't so.


First of all, don't tell someone to "grow up". That kind of juvenile discourse really went out in grade school.

Second of all, you claimed terror at "left-wing" racism, and didn't provide any evidence. Then you said something about "anti-semitism" which we're somehow supposed to divine is also "left-wing", and gave a link that provides no such evidence. So at this point the assumption is that you're just making stuff up.
posted by fold_and_mutilate at 7:05 PM on December 17, 2002


Both the Left and the Right produce extremists.

And of course, the pertinent fact in this matter is that extremist Trent Lott is the incoming Senate majority leader for the United States Republican Party. Imagine that.

Some fringe extremist.
posted by fold_and_mutilate at 7:11 PM on December 17, 2002


But it was the political right who were most responsible for whipping this whole thing up into the controversy it turned out to be.

Which is why, I assume, they are howling for the head
of John Ashcroft now?

And, anyhow, as to your contention, some would differ.
posted by y2karl at 7:36 PM on December 17, 2002


First of all, don't tell someone to "grow up". That kind of juvenile discourse really went out in grade school.

First of all, I don't appreciate your tone. I'm sorry that I obviously upset you by maybe thinking that the Republican party made some good moves on this Lott gaffe. I'm also sorry that I would express the, clearly extremist, opinion that the republican party (roughly half of the entire country) was not at heart any more fundamentally racist or ill-intentioned,than the Democratic one. Your hysterical rantings have now shown me the light. hallelujah!

Me: But it was the political right who were most responsible for whipping this whole thing up into the controversy it turned out to be.

You: Absolute unadulterated bullshit.


Oh, was that some of that elevated discourse you were calling for? Lovely. Seriously F&D, while the major media and political world (of both party affiliations) snoozed, it was mostly the Rightwing punditry of the grassroots blogoshpere, who started the furor. Next, it hit the press with the conservative op-eds. I'm sorry, the conservative party doesn't whip up a witch-hunt every time somebody makes a comment they regret, or shakes hands with somebody you don't like. I guess those kinds of things only happen on the Right.

Which party used "Willie Horton" campaign ads? Who tried to smear John McCain with leaflets, telephone calls, and emails about his "black child"?

Please replace the, severely generalized, word 'party' with any given ethnic group, and I think you'll see how irrational your being right now. (bigotry?)

Second of all, you claimed terror at "left-wing" racism, and didn't provide any evidence. Then you said something about "anti-semitism" which we're somehow supposed to divine is also "left-wing", and gave a link that provides no such evidence. So at this point the assumption is that you're just making stuff up.

I used no such word as 'terror'. Psychological surveys have been documenting for years that the levels of racist feelings held by people in this country are roughly even among people on the left and right (generally tilting slightly to the right). Anti-Semitism has been shown to be equally distributed among the right and the left. This 'Republicans are racist' scam is completely bogus and has no real solid evidence to support it other than the shady partisan tactic of defining Republicans as de facto racist:

which party works actively to end affirmative action?

I'm sorry, I didn't know that it was racist to disagree with F&ds politics. Apparently, only racists oppose affirmative action. And any black person that supports it (roughly %10), must obviously be some sort of self-hating defect, who cries at night and begs God for 'pure white skin'. F&D, grow up.
posted by dgaicun at 8:41 PM on December 17, 2002


. . .supports it=. . .opposes it. (must obviously be. . .)

F&D=F&M
posted by dgaicun at 8:47 PM on December 17, 2002


Part 2 of But it was the political right who were most responsible for whipping this whole thing up into the controversy it turned out to be. becomes Seriously F&D, while the major media and political world (of both party affiliations) snoozed, it was mostly the Rightwing punditry of the grassroots blogoshpere, who started the furor.

kausfiles would disagree with your wishfully thought, demonstrably false spin:

It was a string of pro-Democrat bloggers -- Atrios, Josh Marshall, Tim Noah, to name three -- who immediately started whaling on Lott. (The conservative bloggers -- Sullivan, Frum, and Goldberg -- began pummeling Lott a day or two later)...

P.S.: The conservative bloggers weighed in only after Thomas Edsall wrote up Lott's comments in a Saturday, December 7th Washington Post.piece.


And, as the link notes, let's not forget James Carville and Sidney Blumenthal.

And again, Which is why, I assume, they are howling for the head of John Ashcroft now?
posted by y2karl at 11:53 AM on December 18, 2002


Oh, and even Glenn Reynolds backs Kaus up on this fraudulent it was mostly the Rightwing punditry of the grassroots blogoshpere, who started the furor, too.
posted by y2karl at 12:21 PM on December 18, 2002


Yes, I caught that Kausfiles before bed last night, too.

. . . demonstrably false spin

Spin, is a more than a little unfair, Karl, seeing as how I provided the NYT article stating otherwise before I even caught Kaus. But, I guess the whole business of people projecting devious motives onto their perceived ideological enemies, is what the issue has always been for me with this Lott hysteria. Your McCartyite desire to purge the Republican party of so-called neo-Confederates, is nothing but a back-wards campaign of thought-crime. Am I the only one who realizes that no one in the Republican party is advocating segregation? At least the hysterical anti-Communists of the Cold-War worried about moles who could aid a real threat. Is the Return of the South, really such a legitimate worry? Let the Democratic and Republican parties get excited over who to throw out, and over how petty the offense. Fine, we can only demonstrate our holy commitment to anti-racism, by divining the inner thoughts of others, and punishing them for their true beliefs. Glad to see the Right is participating. This whole drama was an over-blown witch-hunt in my opinion. The only question now is, is what political figure will be in next month's Sensational Scandal of the Week ®? Will he be a Democrat or Republican? Clearly the scandal will be of pressing national significance, but what will it involve: Intern blow-job or rebel-flag under-wear?

Oh, won't somebody please think of the children?
posted by dgaicun at 12:52 PM on December 18, 2002


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