08 July 2010

Decoding the Left: Robert Byrd - HUMAN EVENTS

Decoding the Left: Robert Byrd - HUMAN EVENTS

Robert Byrd’s death severs the Democratic Party’s most glaring link to its racist past. Rather than let the party’s embarrassing past fade from memory with Robert Byrd, party heavyweights have lamely obfuscated their former senate majority leader’s past as a “Kleagle” and an “Exalted Cyclops” in the Ku Klux Klan.

“He once had a fleeting association with the Ku Klux Klan, and what does that mean?” eulogized Bill Clinton of America’s longest serving senator. “I’ll tell you what it means. He was a country boy from the hills and the hollers of West Virginia. He was trying to get elected. And maybe he did something he shouldn’t have and he spent the rest of his life making it up.”

President Barack Obama more subtly addressed Byrd’s membership in the secretive racist organization. “We know there are things he said and things he did that he came to regret,” the President said.

Being a liberal means never having to say you’re sorry. No matter how egregious one’s sins against the stated principles of American liberalism, American liberals will welcome the sinner back as long as he atones through service to American liberalism. So convinced of the goodness of their own cause, liberals self-servingly view liberalism as an indemnity against past transgressions, as proven by this past year’s beatifications of one senator who left a woman to suffocate in her own air pocket at Chappaquiddick and of his longtime colleague who served as a recruiter for the KKK.

And why wouldn’t a former Klansman such as Byrd feel comfortable in the Democratic Party?

Robert Byrd entered an America in which segregationist Democrat Woodrow Wilson served as President. More than six years after Byrd’s birth, the Democratic Party narrowly rejected a resolution at its 1924 convention condemning the Ku Klux Klan.

Shortly before Byrd turned 20 in 1937, Democratic President Franklin Roosevelt appointed former Klansman Hugo Black to the Supreme Court. By the time Byrd reached voting age, his Democratic Party had in its entire history sent exactly one African American to Congress. And in Byrd’s first term in the United States Senate, “no” votes on 1964’s Civil Rights Act—which Byrd filibustered—disproportionately came from Democrats.

When racism was a state-sponsored problem in America, Byrd’s was the party of racists.

When government-perpetrated racism ceased to be a problem in America, Byrd’s party became the scourge of long-since-marginalized racists. In Rhodesia, in South Africa, in faraway places, Democrats fought against racists by remote. But at home, when it mattered, when they could have made a difference, Democrats considered Theodore Bilbo, Orval Faubus, and John Rankin to be party members in good standing.

Racism has never prevented the American Left from embracing recovering racists such as Robert Byrd. To Karl Marx, America’s Southern neighbors were “lazy Mexicans” and rival theorist Ferdinand Lassalle was “nigger-like.” Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger spoke to a Ku Klux Klan rally in 1926, championed a “negro programme” to reduce the African American birth rate, and deemed Jews, Italians, and Aborigines unfit lesser races. Jack Reed, the subject of Warren Beatty’s fawning biopic Reds and the only American buried beneath the Kremlin Wall, casually referred to black people as “niggers” and “coons” in his extant correspondence to Louise Bryant housed at Harvard University.

These are massive, not marginal, figures in the history of the Left. And their history of racism doesn’t disqualify them from their status as radical heroes. The standards the Left imposes upon their enemies are not the standards imposed upon their icons.

Indulgences, when the penitent is a Democrat, are easy to come by. The unpardonable sin here is not racism but opposition to liberalism. Big-spending Robert Byrd gets a pass because he faithfully served the interests of the Democratic Party for more than a half century. Had he served opposing interests, his years among cross-burners, violent bigots, and hooded hooligans would have been used as a brickbat to destroy him. It’s not racism that liberal crusaders are concerned about, but how to use “racism” as a cudgel to batter political opponents. How else does one explain the reverential treatment of a Klansman and segregationist by the leading lights of the Democratic Party?

The recent racist history of the Democratic Party doesn’t make its current votaries bigots or haters. It just makes them odd schoolmarms to lecture the rest of us about racism. The awkward eulogistic excuses and apologias for the KKK-Exalted-Cyclops-turned-Democratic-Senate-Majority-Leader demonstrate this.

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