GOODBYE AND GOOD RIDDANCE TO

GOODBYE AND GOOD RIDDANCE TO STROM THURMOND: It was announced at about 11:00 tonight that former Senator Strom Thurmond has passed away at the age of 100. Readers of this blog know that when a celebrity or famous political figure dies, I often share a personal rememberence, and make an effort to pay tribute to that person. I plan to do that when Ronald Reagan dies,when Carl Pohlad dies, and (hell) probably even whenever Bud Selig dies too.
I will not be respectfully eulogizing Strom Thurmond tonight, because I believe that he was a man unworthy of mine or anyone else’s respect. He was the man who did more than any other American to derail the progress of the civil rights movement, to preserve racial inequality, and to deny voting and anti-discrimination rights to African-Americans. And he wasn’t Robert Byrd, who (in an admittedly atrocious act) once briefly joined the Ku Klux Klan in a bid to gain votes- Thurmond was a national leader of the pro-segregation movement, and (as Thurmond admirer Trent Lott has reminded us) even ran for president on the single-issue platform of keeping black children out of white schools. That he dropped these views as he got older is no defense; Thurmond’s actions were beyond forgiveness- He said “segregation forever,” not “segregation ’til I change my mind.” And later he all but lost his mind, selfishly continuing to serve in the Senate until he was well beyond senile, and was practically catatonic by the time he retired at the age of 100.
What’s funny is, I can already predict the next three or four days of partisan political discourse: Fox News Channel and their allies will run wistful, worshipful tributes to Thurmond- the same people who call Robert Byrd a Klansman every time he opens his mouth will preach the fiction that Thurmond was some kind of hero. Then a liberal or two will tell the truth- that Thurmond was in fact as vile a man as has ever been in American politics- and the righties will call them “rude,” “disrespectful,” and “un-American.” And on and on it goes… the continuing presence of Strom Thurmond in the GOP was one reason I’ve remained a Democrat; their soon-to-be-lionization of him will likely be one thing that keeps me one.
Strom Thurmond was a racist, a monster, and one of the primary villains of 20th century American history. He was an embarrassment to the United States the entire time that he served in the Senate, and one of the last links to an era in which black people were looked at second-class citizens, if not subhuman. America is a better country now that he’s dead.

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