Strom Thurmond Dead
June 26, 2003 7:52 PM   Subscribe

CNN reports that Strom Thurmond died about an ago, this time for real. The South Carolina senator first served as state senator in 1933, went on to become governor in 1947, and won his Senate seat in 1954. In the last years of his term, the recently-retired Senator was barely functional, unable to so much as wield a gavel. Thurmond will likely be remembered for leading the opposition to civil rights for blacks in the mid-20th century. Strom Thurmond was 100 years old.
posted by waldo (97 comments total)
 
South Carolina's The State has full coverage of Thurmond's death. Another segregationist, former Georgia governor Lester Maddox, also died this week.
posted by Frank Grimes at 7:58 PM on June 26, 2003




...after hearing of today's supreme court ruling.
posted by y10k at 7:59 PM on June 26, 2003


Fun facts about Strom Thurmond:
  • He has been alive for almost half of the entire history of the United States
  • He was 17 when women were granted the right to vote
  • He is one of few living politicians to have received votes from Civil War veterans
And, of course, everybody's favorite Strom quote:

"I wanna tell you, ladies and gentlemen, that there's not enough troops in the army to force the southern people to break down segregation and admit the nigger race into our theatres into our swimming pools into our homes and into our churches."
posted by waldo at 7:59 PM on June 26, 2003


Google News links
posted by arco at 8:00 PM on June 26, 2003


christ, stav, I didn't realize how much that man's face resembled a pepperoni pizza.
posted by angry modem at 8:01 PM on June 26, 2003


I actually did wait 15 minutes after I saw it on CNN. Not a peep on Google News or CNN or even, surprisingly, The State. :) Besides, if people didn't put up incomplete stories, what in the world would poor Matt do all day? ;)
posted by waldo at 8:03 PM on June 26, 2003


So was it that important to be the first one to post it? (Just wondering)
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 8:06 PM on June 26, 2003


Here is a link.
posted by RunsWithBandageScissors at 8:08 PM on June 26, 2003


y10k, LOL

It's churlish and immature to give vent to feelings like this, I know, but AFAIC: not a got-damn moment too soon.
posted by adamgreenfield at 8:09 PM on June 26, 2003


It's about damn time this dinosaur kicked it. Now the morons who kept electing him will have to find some other racist crook to......oh, forget it.

(Wow, a whole 15 minutes! You are master of your domain, waldo.)
posted by UrbanFigaro at 8:16 PM on June 26, 2003


One down, oh-so-many Old World racists to go.
posted by FormlessOne at 8:18 PM on June 26, 2003


Hmm, worked on preview. Let's try it again.
posted by RunsWithBandageScissors at 8:19 PM on June 26, 2003


Damn, it's a particularly great week to be gay or black, or both.
posted by kmel at 8:24 PM on June 26, 2003


will Bush go to the funeral?
posted by amberglow at 8:33 PM on June 26, 2003


I loved when MTV sent Chuck D to the Republican convention in 92 (I think) and he asked Strom Thurmond "Which was better: World War I or World War II."

Strom had trouble understanding the question.

Also, what y10k said.
posted by ColdChef at 8:39 PM on June 26, 2003


More importantly, will Trent Lott go to the funeral? If so, what will he say?
posted by kickingtheground at 8:40 PM on June 26, 2003


I have a really hard time taking much pleasure in someone's death, especially someone that wasn't pure fucking evil, and as much of an asshole as Strom was, I wouldn't call him pure evil.

I'll just sit back and be glad that his bullshit segregationist ideals died long before he did (and just to cover my ass, I'll add a "For the most part")
posted by Ufez Jones at 8:44 PM on June 26, 2003




good riddance.
posted by donkeyschlong at 9:04 PM on June 26, 2003


Well, I certainly won't miss him, but I suppose it's best to pretend his death is a bad thing, at least in public.

Aww.
posted by Hildago at 9:04 PM on June 26, 2003


I sincerely hope we're not in for a round of public memorial tears over this like we were for Nixon's death. They're public servants. If they are shameful human beings, we aught not make a big deal over their passing.

Truly a good week to be gay, or black.
posted by jeff-o-matic at 9:23 PM on June 26, 2003


Not that I make it habit to talk ill of the dead. Perhaps the US can finally enter the political 20th century.
posted by MrLint at 9:35 PM on June 26, 2003


Not to defend Thurmond, as I won't especially miss him, but the obituaries do note him being the first southern senator to hire a black staff member and voted for the renewal of the Voting Right Act, a holiday for MLK Jr., and a repeal of the poll tax in South Carolina. I guess I stick to the whole not speaking ill of the dead thing.
posted by gyc at 9:36 PM on June 26, 2003


Consensus has long since settled on him as an opportunist. Nobody really thought of him as a True Believer. To me it's a tossup as to which thing would make him look worse. Was he a reformed racist? An unreconstructed racist, gone to ground? Or just a successful and unscrupulous politician, doing whatever it took to stay in office?

What I don't see here is any sort of comment about the man's legislative record, which was certainly conservative, but which never attracted the sort of hatred and controversy as that of, say, Jesse Helms. Maybe we should save some bile for when HE dies.
posted by coelecanth at 9:47 PM on June 26, 2003


..."Which was better: World War I or World War II."

Strom had trouble understanding the question.


He's not alone. What the hell kind of bullshit question is that?
posted by alumshubby at 9:50 PM on June 26, 2003


MrLint...are you being ironic, or was that a slip? It's 2003.
posted by alumshubby at 9:51 PM on June 26, 2003


This thread encapsulates most of the worst of MetaFilter.
posted by timeistight at 9:55 PM on June 26, 2003




I really do quite profoundly disagree, timeistight.

I cannot help but attend to the human misery this man allowed to persist in the world. (From where I sit, it's still worse if he *was* an opportunist - the true believer at least has the excuse of good faith.) Something in me does celebrate his passage, yes, as it celebrates (far more joyfully and profoundly) the late SCOTUS verdict.

So sue me, I'm a little bit human, just like everyone else who's glad he's gone.
posted by adamgreenfield at 10:02 PM on June 26, 2003


(I'm sorry, I can't resist!)

do you think they will allow coloreds to attend the wake?
posted by mcsweetie at 10:14 PM on June 26, 2003


I guess I'm in the minority here, but I like Strom. Did you know he fought at Normandy on D-Day? And while he supported segregation with the longest filibuster in U.S. history, he later changed his position when it became politically untenable. A good politician has to represent his constituants, and thus must be a chameleon to the changing beliefs of the people he represents. The fact that he could be so racist and support civil rights reflects that he was a great politician, though I think he was overdue for retirement by about twenty years.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 10:16 PM on June 26, 2003


If he would have done this sixty years ago we could have avoided this entire thread.
posted by crasspastor at 10:28 PM on June 26, 2003


This thread encapsulates most of the worst of MetaFilter.

Right down to your glib, self-righteous comment. This one too. Hey, we're on a roll!
posted by Hildago at 10:32 PM on June 26, 2003


Regardless, I'd say 100 years is a pretty good run.
posted by moonbiter at 10:39 PM on June 26, 2003


This thread encapsulates most of the worst of MetaFilter.

Look, much as I thought I would when this eventually happened, I'm not going to say anything that gloats condescendingly about him being dead. Hell, I'd love to live to be 100. But you're not going to get me to pretend that I ever at any point in my life had a kind thought about him, and the fact that he's dead isn't going to make me pretend that's not how I felt.

I'm not going to rejoice over someone's death. But I'll rejoice at every defeat, socially and legally, of the evils he helped inflict on this country that will occur in my lifetime. I am not the one who chose to leave a legacy of things that a more civilized, modern time realized are wrong, so I'm not going to feel shame for opposing what he did when he was alive just because he's not anymore.

He left a legacy that I largely hope to see destroyed, and I feel no shame for that.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 10:41 PM on June 26, 2003


I sincerely hope we're not in for a round of public memorial tears over this like we were for Nixon's death.

Yeah, but I'd pay to read anything as good as "He Was a Crook" about Sen Thurmond.

That said, I have heard a number of amazing stories about the man's capacity for kindness and care towards his constituents, white or black. An African-american guy I once met told me a story about wandering into the Capitol in the mid-70s, finding his way to Strom's office, telling the secretary that he was a veteran and homeless, and Strom coming out of his office and making a few calls. He shook the guy's hand, and put him in a car to go work at the Pentagon filing and answering calls. The job was there when the guy got dropped off at the Pentagon.

That's always been one of my favorite stories - no matter how evil you think somebody is, they've probably been a really good guy at least occasionally.
posted by GriffX at 10:41 PM on June 26, 2003


Good fucking riddance.
posted by interrobang at 10:53 PM on June 26, 2003


Alum : irony, straight up.
posted by MrLint at 10:54 PM on June 26, 2003


and yet WALDO while he did indeed say that, he was a smart and astute politician to stay in office after the Civil Rights act. I make no claims that he was a saint, but I found it odd how many people of ALL races wanted a picture with him when I gave tous of the Capital.
posted by geist at 11:07 PM on June 26, 2003


Now the morons who kept electing him will have to find some other racist crook to......oh, forget it.

The same kind of morons who keep electing Robert Byrd? Nevermind.
posted by alethe at 11:15 PM on June 26, 2003


christ, stav[rogin], I didn't realize...

Oi!
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 11:35 PM on June 26, 2003


"The fact that he could be so racist and support civil rights reflects that he was a great politician"

Funny, I thought it reflected the fact that he couldn't hold a job in the private sector.
posted by 2sheets at 11:37 PM on June 26, 2003


Yes, alethe. Exactly the same.
posted by UrbanFigaro at 11:38 PM on June 26, 2003


A good politician has to represent his constituants, and thus must be a chameleon to the changing beliefs of the people he represents.

No, he doesn't. What you described isn't a good politician — it's a career politician. A good politician has his own strong beliefs and ideas and if people like them, they vote for him. He has to convince the voters to vote for him, and if he can't they vote for another guy/girl.
posted by cx at 1:11 AM on June 27, 2003


I'm not going to rejoice over someone's death.

I am. If that racist shitbag sucks big black cock in hell for all eternity, it won't be long enough.
posted by majcher at 1:30 AM on June 27, 2003


I don't want to make the disgusting statements made by Rush Limbaugh after Paul Wellstone's funeral look in any way justifiable, so I'll not say anything.
posted by Space Coyote at 1:39 AM on June 27, 2003


A good politician has to represent his constituants, and thus must be a chameleon to the changing beliefs of the people he represents.

.... and he was promoting heritage, not hate too
posted by ElvisJesus at 2:10 AM on June 27, 2003


A Tribute to Strom Thurmond: The Senate's Icon of Time
Senate Floor Statement by Sen Bill Frist

EJ Dionne on States Rights and the Republican Party

me, I just hope that God is a Black woman, and She is vengeful beyond human belief

So was it that important to be the first one to post it? (Just wondering)
we all understand your sorrow, Steve -- condolescences, your party lost a very valuable member. but I'm sure that in the future, many Republican Senators will just ask themselves, What would Strom do?, so his legacy will remain
posted by matteo at 3:45 AM on June 27, 2003


Old racists CAN change, albeit slowly: I have seen it with my own eyes...

Strom was a creature from another era-in that era almost every white male in the South was a segregationalist. No one, and I repeat, no one, would have gotten elected to the position he held without sharing those beliefs.

His segregationalist beliefs were WRONG, but I think it is wrong to judge the whole of his Senate term by our enlightened standards.

Meanwhile, I am still scratching my head at why his constituency kept reelecting him in his senility.
posted by konolia at 4:29 AM on June 27, 2003


From Cold Chef's link:

The day before his wedding in November 1947, the 44-year-old Thurmond tried to show he wasn’t too old to marry Jean Crouch. With his 21-year-old bride-to-be looking on, Thurmond performed a handstand for Life magazine. The caption read: "Virile governor demonstrates his prowess in the mansion yard day before wedding."

Handstand = virility. Can't stop laughing. What an innocent time - for the media at least.
posted by orange swan at 4:48 AM on June 27, 2003


Perhaps the news of premature obituary stressed him out so much it did him in.
posted by bwg at 5:21 AM on June 27, 2003


This thread encapsulates most of the worst of MetaFilter.

Actually, MetaFilter encapsulates most of the worst of MetaFilter.
posted by bwg at 5:23 AM on June 27, 2003


I just hope that when Jesse Jackson, Robert Byrd, Al Sharpton, et al., finally pass away I can gloat like this. The man is dead. Do we need all the hate?
posted by marcusb at 5:28 AM on June 27, 2003


Feel free to gloat. I hate them almost as much as I hated Thurmond.
posted by ColdChef at 5:31 AM on June 27, 2003


Actually, MetaFilter encapsulates most of the worst of MetaFilter.

Except for that gloopy biohazardous ooze that squeezes out around the edges. I hate that.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:34 AM on June 27, 2003


Except for that gloopy biohazardous ooze that squeezes out around the edges. I hate that.

So true. And it's a bitch to get it off of the keyboard.
posted by bwg at 5:37 AM on June 27, 2003


That said, I have heard a number of amazing stories about the man's capacity for kindness and care towards his constituents, white or black. An African-american guy I once met told me a story about wandering into the Capitol in the mid-70s . . . The job was there when the guy got dropped off at the Pentagon.

Wow, we've already established a mythology about the man. How long till someone hears it from their friend's sister's cousin's hairdresser that Thurmond was pulling babies out of the Pentagon as it burned?
posted by archimago at 5:58 AM on June 27, 2003


I thought he was a fascinating man. Such "legend in their own lifetimes" charactors deserve special treatment.

Why don't they display him, sort of like Lenin, in a vinegar filled pickle jar on display in the Senate foyer?
posted by troutfishing at 6:50 AM on June 27, 2003


In the spirit of not speaking ill of the dead, the thing I most admire about Strom Thurmond is that he managed to screw his way through half the women in South Carolina, including a death-row inmate a couple hours before she was killed. Wacky.
posted by Pseudoephedrine at 7:09 AM on June 27, 2003


I can't wait to see what Aaron McGruder's take on this is.
posted by vito90 at 7:12 AM on June 27, 2003


The folks at Disney are already gearing up to stuff him full of animatronics. mark my words - HE'LL BE BACK (and you'll all be sorry)
posted by Pressed Rat at 7:43 AM on June 27, 2003


Almost, but not entirely, off topic:
Vis10n or Oissubke or namespan or one of our other LDS members: isn't there some tradition where you say honest things (including very negative ones) about the deceased at a memorial service? How does that work exactly? I seem to remember seeing this in God's Army.

posted by PinkStainlessTail at 7:57 AM on June 27, 2003


By the looks of this thread Regan's obit will be even more hostile. As far as the politics, I would take a look through the Senator Wellstone threads which to compare a Democrats passing and see how many tasteless comments were being thrown around. Granted that was before an election and the focus was on how to replace a dead candidate, but some posts are best left elsewhere.
posted by brent at 8:09 AM on June 27, 2003


Why don't they display him, sort of like Lenin, in a vinegar filled pickle jar on display in the Senate foyer?

can't find a link, but i swear this morning on NPR they reported there are plans being made to have him "lie in state" at the S.C. capitol to receive mourners. the horror...
posted by serafinapekkala at 8:12 AM on June 27, 2003


.
Fucker.
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 8:19 AM on June 27, 2003


Why don't they display him, sort of like Lenin, in a vinegar filled pickle jar on display in the Senate foyer?

I thought they had already been doing that for the past 20 years. Silly me.

I try not to rejoice in anybody's suffering, and I suppose he has a family who'll miss him and I'm sorry for them I guess, but the more old-school segregationalists die off, the less of them thre'll be wandering around telling lies about how great things were before the race-mixing.
posted by jonmc at 8:34 AM on June 27, 2003


Pseudoephenedrine, where on earth did you come up with THAT?
posted by konolia at 8:46 AM on June 27, 2003


archimago - look, I wasn't trying to canonize Strom - I know you're just attempting to be clever, but that story happened to somebody I met.
posted by GriffX at 9:37 AM on June 27, 2003


Matteo, confused as always, you mistook sarcasm for sorrow.
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 9:41 AM on June 27, 2003


Ignatius, what's up with the incredibly (for you) inarticulate post?
posted by alumshubby at 9:47 AM on June 27, 2003


...including a death-row inmate a couple hours before she was killed. Wacky.

Not just any death row inmate, South Carolina's first female death row inmate.
posted by dgaicun at 9:51 AM on June 27, 2003


As far as the politics, I would take a look through the Senator Wellstone threads which to compare a Democrats passing and see how many tasteless comments were being thrown around.

I think a certain amount of allowance has to be given when you're talking about someone dying at 100, after a successful life, versus someone tragically being killed in a plane crash.

whether or not strom thurmound once helped out a black man who stopped by his office, the point should be on policy not individual friendliness. People seem to forget that policy actually really does affect people, far more than the occasional win-the-lottery moment for someone who's given a favor. If you eat junkfood all the time and then have a salad once a year, you can't use that to claim to have a healthy diet, eg.
posted by mdn at 9:54 AM on June 27, 2003


I'm ambivalent in my feelings about ST's passing. He was revered down here, for many very right reasons as well as a few wrong ones. I wish he'd retired a ways back, but he clearly loved his role as US Senator and I think it was his reason for living. The people of SC are complicit in keeping him there, but I think they did that more out of love for Strom the person than out of making the hiring/firing decision that electing an official for public office (or not) is supposed to be. At any rate, despite Strom's frank doddering, it was nice to see old age respected to some degree (OK, maybe to an excessive degree) in a youth-obsessed culture.

I feel badly for all of the MeFiers here who've expressed raw hatred for Strom the segregationist and not given him credit for any of his virtues.
posted by alumshubby at 9:58 AM on June 27, 2003


I feel badly for all of the MeFiers here who've expressed raw hatred for Strom the segregationist and not given him credit for any of his virtues.

you know, I think this is one of the reasons that race relations are so pitiful in the US. Even after we collectively decided the segregationists were wrong, we retained respect for them, accepted them in positions of authority. Leaders of the third reich were put to death, or at very least had to hide their identity for the rest of their lives. Was the rhetoric against blacks and jews all that different? Strom ran and won on a pro-lynching platform! The action went much further in germany, and I'm not saying strom should have been put to death or anything, but imagine growing up hearing his speeches and then watching him remain in a place of power for all those years. He was never even openly repentant about his earlier policies.
posted by mdn at 10:12 AM on June 27, 2003


Ignatius, what's up with the incredibly (for you) inarticulate post?

Backhanded complement accepted, but my comment really did say it all. He is dead, hence the "." And, he was a fucker.

I'll admit to ignorrance of the finer points of his tenure as a US Senator, but anyone who stood tall and screamed to defend segregation and racism deserves to, well, be weeded out of the garden of cultural and legal memes that is our legislature. I would not be happy if someone had killed him, nor am I glad that he is dead, per se. A retirement announcement would be about the same in my eyes.

Either way, good riddance, even if he was nice to a black guy once. Hell, Thomas Jefferson was real nice to a certain black person, and if he were alive today I would hope that he could understand the errors of his former racist, slave-owning ways. That will be enough comparison of Strom and my (flawed) man T Jeff.
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 10:27 AM on June 27, 2003


um...he helped keep millions of Americans disenfranchised (to put it mildly) for years and years...and later served as model for younger politicians (Lott, etc), putting outright racism under a hood and ensuring that race-baiting, code words, and innuendo became an established part of elections and governance in this country...

even Bill Frist, in the link above, doesn't mention one piece of legislation or law he authored or sponsored...what good did this guy do? The New York Times obit as well, running 5 pages long, also is suspiciously short on actual pieces of legislation. Someone please enlighten me--there has to be something...
posted by amberglow at 10:31 AM on June 27, 2003


A few thoughts I had about Thurmond's death

1) Wow, I'd give just about anything to live as full of a life as he did, minus the racist actions, and experience so much change in all areas of life throughout my life. Things like landing in Normandy, being in public office, etc., not to mention things like flight, computers, the internet, etc.

2) How will my beliefs and actions be perceived in 77 years, if I reach 100? This is a man that outlived his beliefs by at least 30-40 years, if not more. Will people be this hateful and spiteful towards me because of my inability or unwillingness to change my beliefs?
posted by gyc at 10:39 AM on June 27, 2003


DancingOnCasketsFilter.
posted by alumshubby at 10:47 AM on June 27, 2003


"Truly a good week to be gay, or black." ... or BOTH !!! eh.. any one ???
posted by adnanbwp at 10:47 AM on June 27, 2003


Will people be this hateful and spiteful towards me because of my inability or unwillingness to change my beliefs?

if you hold such hateful and spiteful beliefs as this man did, have a real effect on the actual speed of change from your hateful policies to newer more reasonable ones, and later fail to honestly and completely reassess your position and apologize profusely for your earlier ignorance, then I should hope so.

although, I mean I should hope they will be "this hateful and spiteful" which is to say, not overwhelmingly / perversely so. I don't sense that much vitriol in the thread - he was 100 so it isn't exactly sad that he died, and he has been getting way too much praise considering choices he made in his life.
posted by mdn at 10:54 AM on June 27, 2003


If any of you ever say that someone should be lynched, or that things were better when one group of people owned abother, much less if you spend a significant portion of your life protecting this illogical hate as legal or social reality, I will not mourn your deaths. Maybe you won't care, but there it is.

I'm all for historical relativism, and maybe if Thurmond was my grandpa I could still love him or whatever. That being said, there is huge difference between simply subscribing to a given viewpoint and foisting it on others.
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 11:01 AM on June 27, 2003


Griffx, I wasn't attacking you, per se, just that like everything else in this country, he will be remembered the way that people want to remember him, that that one act of kindness (or political play?) will be what comes to define him, not that he'll be remembered for the racist he was.
posted by archimago at 11:01 AM on June 27, 2003


Konolia> Off the top of my head, this metafilter thread mentions it, though I've heard it elsewhere as well. Strom was famous for being, uh, "frisky" even in his old age.
posted by Pseudoephedrine at 12:46 PM on June 27, 2003


mildly off-topic, but, as I was reading this thread, I was struck with a notion. I doubt there's a single person in this thread who doesn't have at least one opinion on some issue, that, a hundred years from now, will seem terribly unenlightened.
posted by GeekAnimator at 1:26 PM on June 27, 2003


I doubt there's a single person in this thread who doesn't have at least one opinion on some issue, that, a hundred years from now, will seem terribly unenlightened.

And then, thankfully, we will all die.
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 1:41 PM on June 27, 2003


I doubt there's a single person in this thread who doesn't have at least one opinion on some issue, that, a hundred years from now, will seem terribly unenlightened.

Personally, I expect the future people will be laughing at my quaint and outdated opinions on bukkake.
posted by COBRA! at 1:49 PM on June 27, 2003



Re: Strom gettin' frisky with the soon-to-be crispy critter.

One account of the incident. Others here.
posted by Wet Spot at 1:59 PM on June 27, 2003


As my friend Bubba says, only the good die young.
posted by TedW at 8:24 AM on June 28, 2003


As my friend Bubba says, only the good die young.

Is that the Bubba whose friend Forrest got into the shrimpin' bidness?
posted by bwg at 2:56 AM on June 29, 2003


Cheney and Rumsfeld are going to pay their respects
posted by amberglow at 8:54 AM on June 29, 2003


He'll be missed. He left behind a wife, three kids, a grandchild, and his life partner, Jesse Helms.
posted by basilwhite at 8:15 AM on June 30, 2003


hmmmmmmmm...
posted by amberglow at 6:45 PM on July 1, 2003


Amberglow, just say it.

Strom Thurmond has a daughter whose mother was a black woman. The daughter is in her seventies now.

According to the Slate article, he did visit her regularly and probably paid for her college education.
posted by konolia at 9:23 PM on July 1, 2003


I wasn't afraid to say it...i just can't fathom it--to spend decades keeping black people down, and being against "race-mixing" and equal rights in any and every way, all the while with his own, living, "mixed-race" child who was being immensely hurt by his actions...what can you say?
posted by amberglow at 9:45 PM on July 1, 2003


Actually, i can say this: He never would have been a segregationist presidential candidate in 1948 or done that filibuster, if people had known of this. I cry thinking of the damage he did to civil rights in this country, and to his own child.
posted by amberglow at 9:49 PM on July 1, 2003



Racism is a stronghold of the mind, amberglow. And part of that stronghold is that it's as much a fear about what others may think as it is about actual hatred or felt superiority over another race. It's a herd mentality thing.
posted by konolia at 6:13 AM on July 2, 2003


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