Democratic Senator Robert Byrd passed away last week at age 92. Among the items in his lengthy CV was a year-long membership in the Ku Klux Klan. He also had some kind words for that organization and its principles thereafter.
Eventually Byrd denounced his Klan involvement as “my biggest mistake… an albatross that I will always wear.” Too little too late, perhaps, though it compares favorably to the post-segregation career of, say, Strom Thurmond (i.e., remain an unrepentant racist, join a grateful Republican Party).
Rightbloggers took the occasion of Byrd’s death to tell America that Democrats are the real racists. But, as always seems to happen when they try this approach, events spoiled it by drawing rightbloggers into battle with a famous African-American — in this case, the late Thurgood Marshall.
As soon as Byrd’s death was announced, rightbloggers danced on his grave — “I placed the legendary West Virginia Senator Robert Byrd in the category of ‘only the wrong survive’ along with Fidel Castro and Pete Seeger,” bragged Scott Johnson of Power Line — and used him to tar, so to speak, the Democrats.
“How dare the liberal media portray conservatives as being racist while simultaneously sweeping the facts under the rug about their longest serving member of congress who lived a life of shameful racism,” wrote RedState. “The left will be eager to whitewash Byrd’s horrific legacy,” said Ed Driscoll.
FrumForum felt it necessary to gild Byrd’s racism lily. When Byrd filibustered the 1964 Civil Rights Act, said Alex Knepper, “It wasn’t out of principled libertarian support for property rights” — not like that nice Rand Paul fellow, in other words.
The funeral came, and Bill Clinton mentioned Byrd’s Klan years in his eulogy: “He was a country boy from the hills and hollows from West Virginia. He was trying to get elected… And maybe he did something he shouldn’t have done come and he spent the rest of his life making it up. And that’s what a good person does.”
Regular readers hardly need to be told that rightbloggers took this perhaps overly-gracious encomium to mean that Clinton chose, in the words of Scared Monkeys, to “praise and defend [Byrd’s] involvement in the KKK.”
At Michelle Malkin, Doug Powers went semantic: “Maybe he did something he shouldn’t have?” and “‘Fleeting association’? Byrd was an active member of the Klan for at least a year…”
Bear in mind, Clinton’s remarks were made at a funeral, in which setting it is not customary to tell mourners, “The deceased was a racist son of a bitch.” But rightbloggers, as evidenced by their obsequies at the passing of Ted Kennedy (“Worst Traitor Since FDR“) and Jack Murtha (“May he rot in hell“) never stand on such ceremonies when it comes to their enemies. (Our theory is that they were abused as children, or raised in Skinner boxes.)
iOwnTheWorld fixated on Obama’s generous, Christian sentiment that “Robert Byrd possessed that quintessential American quality, and that is the capacity to change, a capacity to learn.” “Obama Uses Byrd Eulogy To Wedge In His Campaign Message – CHANGE,” they yelled. “What a horse’s anal wart. Not only is Obama busy apologizing for a racist,” etc.
“Of course, the NAACP’s embrace of Byrd has nothing to do with principle,” said Doctor Zero at Hot Air. “It’s a heartless, soulless political calculation, made by a group that profits handsomely from the immense government Byrd nourished.” Apparently even black people had their own sinister reasons for defending the racist Byrd. No wonder conservatives can’t catch a break with them!
Another of the Byrd offenses that came up in rightbloggers’ denunciations was that he had voted against Thurgood Marshall’s Supreme Court appointment in 1967. American Conservative Daily, Commentary, Pajamas Media, and several others put it into their bills of particulars.
FrumForum expressed horror that Byrd “went to J. Edgar Hoover to see if Marshall had any Communist ties that could ruin his nomination,” and pointed out that when Byrd, like 47 other Senators, voted against Clarence Thomas’ unfortunate SCOTUS appointment, he became “the only senator in the body to have voted against both black Supreme Court nominees.”
It just so happened Obama Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan had her Senate hearings last week, during which Marshall came up.
Back in April rightwing columnist George F. Will suggested Republicans grill Kagan, who had clerked for the first black SCOTUS judge, about Marshall’s “approach to judging,” which he implied was activist — a big conservative no-no when it comes to the judiciary. The Republican National Committee picked up the charge in May.
Last week GOP Senators on the committee showed they’d gotten the word, and denounced Marshall. Jeff Sessions called him a “well-known activist,” John Coryn said Marshall was “not what I would consider to be mainstream,” etc.
Prior to his appointment, Marshall had argued the winning case in Brown v. Board of Education. He’s an American icon. Normal people might consider the Republican attacks on him ill-advised at best. But conservatives rose to the GOP’s defense.
“Several justices — including Kagan’s mentor, Justice Thurgood Marshall — continually voted to ban the death penalty, despite the fact that the Constitution clearly, repeatedly, unquestionably provides for capital punishment,” said Ann Coulter. “That’s how liberals ‘get some things done.’ That’s judicial activism.”
“Though sometimes mistakenly identified as an anti-communist,” wrote The Freedom Fighter’s Journal, “Thurgood Marshall, had a radical past… Marshall was active in the leadership of at least two Communist Party infiltrated organizations, the American Civil Liberties Union and the National Lawyers Guild…” Read further for the shocking Hussein Obama connection! (“It is likely that Barack Obama would have met Chesa Boudin through his friendship with [Bill] Ayers and [Bernardine] Dohrn…”)
“Don’t be surprised when the polished and polite Elena Kagan finds a constitutional right to gay marriage within the shadows and penumbras of Thurgood Marshall’s Constitution,” warned Freedom Corner.
“Kagan denied that the late Thurgood Marshall, whom she identifies as one of her heroes, could properly be described as an ‘activist’ judge,” cried FrontPage. “Yet this was the same Thurgood Marshall who advised judges to ‘do what’s right and let the law catch up’… in a defense of affirmative-action policies, [Marshall] once told William O. Douglas, ‘You [white] guys have been practicing discrimination for years. Now it’s our [blacks’] turn.'”
Well, at least they didn’t accuse him of a “heartless, soulless political calculation” against his own people.
No rightblogger we could find defended Thurgood Marshall. Certainly, none admitted that, on second thought, maybe Robert Byrd wasn’t so bad after all, since they too felt Marshall shouldn’t have been put on the Court, and they certainly weren’t racists. (Buckhorn Road came close: “While I would admit that I too would have voted against Marshall, my concerns would have been on ideological grounds.” Sure they would, buddy.)
Thus another of the rightbloggers’ sporadic efforts to take the high ground in matters of race ended, as most do, with them piling on a black person like Henry Louis Gates, Congressman John Lewis, Michelle Obama, etc. It’s as if they couldn’t help themselves.
They still had other moral battles to fight, too: For example, denouncing Google for giving their domestically-partnered gay employees extra pay to make up for their tax disadvantage versus married employees. This really brought out the best in them — “Google’s straight workers last seen practicing their lisps and learning show tunes,” etc.
Apparently the only minority they can convincingly represent at present is oil company executives. But there’s some hope for them: it’s predicted their greatest constituency will become a minority in the U.S. by 2050. What they’ll have lost in electoral power, maybe they’ll gain in moral stature.