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Bob McMillanAn Opinion

By Bob McMillan
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You Decide

This column is all about quotes from Trent Lott, Robert Byrd, Bill Clinton, and Harry Reid. I do not intend to present my views but want you to decide whether the media coverage was fair?

First, go back to 2002. Trent Lott, a Republican from Mississippi, was the Senate Minority Leader and had been Majority Leader when the Republicans controlled the Senate. At the 100th birthday party for Senator Strom Thurmond, Trent Lott said, “I 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 years either.”

As a result of this quote, the media reaction, and calls for his resignation from Jesse Jackson and others, Trent Lott stepped down as Minority Leader and resigned from the United States Senate.

Next, let me give you a quote from Harry Reid, the current Senate Majority Leader who is a Democrat from Nevada. Back in 2008, as the Presidential campaign got into full swing, Senator Reid referred to candidate Barack Obama as “ …a light-skinned African American” who had, “…no Negro dialect.” Until my research for this piece, I was unaware of Reid’s comment. Were you?

Now let me turn to Robert Byrd who died at the end of last June. Senator Byrd, a Democrat from West Virginia was the longest serving United States Senator. He has an interesting background. In 1964, he voted against the 1964 Civil Rights Act and even participated in the filibuster on the Senate floor. Now let me give you a quote from a letter Byrd wrote to Senator Theodore Bilbo in 1944.

Byrd wrote, “I shall never fight in the Armed forces with a Negro by my side. Rather I should die a thousand times, and see Old Glory tramped 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.”

And Robert Byrd was a member, recruiter, and leader of the Ku Klux Klan for several years. How much of this have you heard about?

Finally, let me give you a quote from remarks by former President Bill Clinton at Byrd’s Memorial Service. Clinton stated, “There are a lot of people who wrote these eulogies for Senator Byrd in the newspapers, and I read a bunch of them and they mentioned that he once had a fleeting association with the Ku Klux Klan and what does that mean. I’ll tell you what it means. He was a country boy form the hills and the hollows of West Virginia. He was trying to get elected…”

Former President Clinton’s comments were very interesting even though Byrd’s association with the Ku Klux Klan was not “fleeting.” It lasted years.

You decide.

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