by John Hawkins | June 20, 2005 3:58 am
Now any conservative can tell you that Robert Byrd, the man the left likes to call the “conscience of the Senate,” is a former klansman. That’s old — but entertaining news — that’s always fun to toss in the left’s face.
I mean, here is this old bigot, this old klansman — and all these hyper-sensitive, ultra-politically correct liberals — who run around claiming everything Republicans do is evidence of some hidden racist tendency — follow this guy around like they’re lovestruck teenagers.
Remember when Republicans quite properly stripped Trent Lott of his leadership position in the Senate for sounding a little too supportive of Strom Thurmond’s racist past? Well, Robert Byrd is the living embodiment of what people thought Trent Lott was praising — yet, there are blogads running on liberal blogs referring to Robert Byrd as “An American Hero.” It’s just mind-boggling, off-the-charts hypocrisy.
Again, this is all fun stuff, but it’s also old news.
However, the WAPO has done an in depth article on Byrd’s Klan ties that’s chock full of new and also long forgotten details. In fact, the WAPO piece was so good, I thought it was worth quoting some of the excerpts and commenting on them. Read along — it’ll be a blast!
In the early 1940s, a politically ambitious butcher from West Virginia named Bob Byrd recruited 150 of his friends and associates to form a chapter of the Ku Klux Klan. After Byrd had collected the $10 joining fee and $3 charge for a robe and hood from every applicant, the “Grand Dragon” for the mid-Atlantic states came down to tiny Crab Orchard, W.Va., to officially organize the chapter.
Yes, folks, Robert Byrd wasn’t just a member of the KKK, he founded the Klan chapter in his area and talked everybody else into joining! That explains a lot, doesn’t it? I mean, if we have a guy charismatic enough to talk people into joining the Klan, then how much harder could it be to talk a bunch of liberals into voting for him?
Oh, but it gets better, folks. Byrd has a new book out, “Robert C. Byrd: Child of the Appalachian Coalfields,” and in it he “whitewashes” what the KKK was all about:
The 770-page book is the latest in a long series of attempts by the 87-year-old Democratic patriarch to try to explain an event early in his life that threatens to define him nearly as much as his achievements in the Senate. In it, Byrd says he viewed the Klan as a useful platform from which to launch his political career. He described it essentially as a fraternal group of elites — doctors, lawyers, clergy, judges and other “upstanding people” who at no time engaged in or preached violence against blacks, Jews or Catholics, who historically were targets of the Klan.
Why, the Klan hated blacks, Jews, and Catholics? Nonsense. Why, that’s just propaganda! Actually the Klan was just a nice group of “upstanding people,” the sort of fine folks anybody would want to hang out with. Heck, Byrd even said they were a “useful platform from which to launch his political career” — and it turns out that they were!
Here’s more from the WAPO on Robert Byrd’s long, successful relationship with the KKK:
“Byrd’s book offers a truncated description of his days with the Klan that does not completely square with contemporaneous newspaper accounts and letters that show he was involved with the Klan throughout much of the 1940s, and not merely for two or three years.
According to his book, Byrd wrote to Samuel Green, an Atlanta doctor and “Imperial Wizard” of the Ku Klux Klan, in late 1941 or early 1942, expressing interest in joining. Some time later, he received the letter from Baskin, the “Grand Dragon” of mid-Atlantic states, saying he would come to Byrd’s home in Crab Orchard whenever Byrd had rounded up 150 recruits for the Klan.
When Baskin finally arrived, the group gathered at the home of C.M. “Clyde” Goodwin, a former local law enforcement official. When it came time to choose the “Exalted Cyclops,” the top officer in the local Klan unit, Byrd won unanimously.”
Well, well, well. “(M)uch of the 1940s” — so he was with the KKK for almost a decade — ooh, and he was an “Exalted Cyclops” — very impressive. Maybe Byrd should put that on his blogads: “Vote for an American Hero and an Exalted Cyclops in the KKK” — wait, is that overkill? Is it too long? Well in any case, I’m sure it wouldn’t hurt his fund raising. Heck, Byrd could still walk around in his white KKK dress and hood and as long as he could deliver a seat in West Virginia, the Democrats would still love the guy just as much as they did in the fifties:
“….Byrd won the primary (for the U.S. House in 1952), but during the general election campaign, Byrd’s GOP opponent uncovered a letter Byrd had handwritten to Green, the KKK Imperial Wizard, recommending a friend as a Kleagle and urging promotion of the Klan throughout the country. The letter was dated 1946 — long after the time Byrd claimed he had lost interest in the Klan. “The Klan is needed today as never before, and I am anxious to see its rebirth here in West Virginia,” Byrd wrote, according to newspaper accounts of that period. Byrd makes no mention of the letter in his new book.
Stunned Democratic state party officials, including then-Gov. Okey L. Patteson, urged him to drop out of the race. Byrd survived the ensuing political firestorm, won the general election and went on to serve six years in the House before winning his Senate seat in 1958. During his Senate campaign, he told a newspaper reporter that he personally felt the Klan had been incorrectly blamed for many acts committed by others.
Apparently, the Klan really does get “incorrectly blamed for many acts committed by others.” I mean, here we are in 2005 thinking they’re a bunch of backwards, racist scumbags and we have an admired Democratic Senator explaining in his new book that they were a gentleman’s club that would never advocate violence against minorities. Who knew? How lucky we all are to have “the conscience of the Senate” to set the record straight and take up for the poor, misunderstood folks in the Klan!
Moving on, here’s a great juxtaposition from the article:
Four years later, Byrd’s Klan past became an issue again when he joined with other southern Democrats to oppose the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Byrd filibustered the bill for more than 14 hours as he argued that it abrogated principles of federalism….
….When Sen. Mike Mansfield (D-Mont.) retired as majority leader in 1976, Byrd easily captured the post.
Yes, folks, a mere 12 years after Robert Byrd was filibustering the Civil Rights Act of 1964, he was the Democratic majority leader in the Senate.
You know, there are a lot of things that conservatives and liberals don’t see eye to eye on and perhaps we’ll have to agree to disagree on a lot of them.
But, can’t we all agree that a former “Grand Cyclops” of the Ku Klux Klan who filibustered the Civil Rights Act of 1964 shouldn’t be one of the most prominent representatives of the Democratic Party in the Senate of the United States in these days and times? You would have to hope so, but I think we all know better than that…
Hat tip to Michelle Malkin for the story.
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