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Guest Columnists :
Affirmative Action Insults Immigrant Contributions - Wendy McElroy, FOX News
Protest Augusta?  Why not Sudan  - Diana West, TownHall.com
How to Ruin American Enterprise - Benjamin J. Stein, Forbes (via Yahoo Finance)
(Yes, it's THAT Ben Stein)
Saddam Hussein's rope-a-dope strategy  - Cal Thomas, TownHall.com
If Congress does nothing, taxes will rise  - Bruce Bartlett, TownHall.com

What is the Deal?

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December 15, 2002

What is the deal with Trent Lott?

By Jan A. Larson

Let me just say that I’ve never been a Trent Lott fan.  My impression of Lott is that he is a career politician that will play the partisan angle every time.  He’s the Republicans’ answer to Tom Daschle.

That said, I find the vicious, cynical, partisan attacks on Lott for his comments at Strom Thurmond’s 100th birthday celebration to be reprehensible; just as reprehensible as Lott’s comments.  Lott made an off-handed remark, intended to cast favorably on Thurmond, that the country would have been better off had Thurmond been elected President in 1948.  As everyone knows by now, Thurmond ran as a third-party candidate and advocated a segregationist platform.

Lott has repeatedly apologized for the remark, said that he didn’t intend to offend anyone and wasn’t endorsing the positions of Thurmond’s Dixiecrat party in 1948.  That should have been enough to put an end to it, but all it did was stir up the partisan sharks like so many barrels of chum.

All of the usual suspects, Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, every Democrat in Congress, Al Gore and a host of other chimed in calling for everything from Lott to step down as minority (soon to be majority) leader in the Senate to his ouster from the Senate entirely.

The media piled on in digging up similar comments made by Lott in 1980 and a record of Lott opposing integration of his college fraternity in the early 1960’s.  Let’s get one thing clear.  People act according to the environment in which they are reared and in which they live.  We must remember that the early 60’s was the time at which the civil rights movement began in earnest.  People in Mississippi, having gone through many generations of segregation, were not about to change their ideas on that subject over night and no one should expect that a white college student in Mississippi at that time is going to rush to embrace such a significant change.  We, in 2002, are mistaken if we believe we can apply standards of today to conduct 40 years ago.  To that end, I do not hold Lott’s opposition to integrating his fraternity against him.  Times change.  He has changed.  I am willing to give him the benefit of the doubt on that issue.

The comment in 1980 is more disturbing in that it apparently was virtually identical to the comment made at Thurmond’s celebration.  Does that mean that Lott really believes that we would be better off had Thurmond been President?  If so, what does he mean by that?  Does he mean we would be better off had we maintained segregation in our society or does he merely mean that we would be better off had some of Thurmond’s other ideas been adopted?  We don’t know.  Lott has indicated that he was not referring to Thurmond’s stand on segregation, but rather some of the other principles that Thurmond favored at that time.

If this issue is enough to force Lott out of the Senate in light of the actions of Bill Clinton during his presidency, we won’t be living under a double standard.  It will be a triple or quadruple standard and, no clear-headed American should stand for it.  If on the other hand, the Republican members of the Senate choose to select another leader of their party and/or the people of Mississippi choose someone else to represent them in the Senate, then so be it.  As for now, I would advise all of those whose screeching voices are filling the airwaves to take a good look in their own closet before they hurl another stone.


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The opinions expressed in "What is the Deal?" guest columns reflect those of the author only and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Pie of Knowledge.  The owner and staff of the Pie of Knowledge accept no responsibility for the content or accuracy of submitted commentary.  (c) Copyright 2002 - The Pie of Knowledge (Jan A. Larson).  All rights reserved.  This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.