8/22/2005

Mississippi Needs a New Senator

Senator Trent Lott needs to go. He has become a liability to the State of Mississippi. His remarks at Strom Thrumond's birthday party were not acceptable nor was his apology. I first I thought maybe he was just humoring an old man for his birthday but from his association with a group called the Council of Conservative Citizens, I no longer hold that opinion.

Jeff Jacoby's article Lott is a Slow Learner made me realize that not only is his political actions in Washington harmful to Mississippi, but some of his views on racism are harmful as well.

It was in December 2002 that Lott uttered the words that led to his fall. ''I want to say this about my state," he told the guests at a 100th birthday party for Thurmond, the 1948 Dixiecrat candidate for president and longtime senator from South Carolina. ''When Strom Thurmond ran for president, we voted for him. We're proud of it. And if the rest of the country had followed our lead, we wouldn't have had all these problems over all these years, either."


This statement is bad enough, but his association with the Council of Conservative citizens is worse.

Lott has always insisted he is no bigot, and ''Herding Cats," according to Roll Call, ''includes examples of his personal and professional life that counter the allegation that he is racist." (Presumably those examples do not include Lott's ties to the Council of Conservative Citizens, a white-supremacist organization that has denounced ''miscegenation" and ''race-mixing" and highlighted ''the struggle for the survival of white people on this continent." )

What Lott really believes none of us can know for sure. But anyone who proclaims that ''all these problems over all these years" could have been averted if a segregationist had been elected president that America would be better off, in other words, if Mississippi's bathrooms were still marked ''white" and ''colored" and its black citizens barred from voting has obviously got a problem of his own. And if after all this time Lott still sees his words as ''innocent but thoughtless," his party was right to demote him.

Not being one to take things at face value, in other words do Jacoby's words have merit? I looked up to see Senator Lott's connection to the Coucil of Conservative Citizens. Frankly, I was shocked.
Founded: 1985
Headquarters: St. Louis
Leader: Gordon Lee Baum
Publication: The Citizens Informer (circulation of 20,000)
Background: Established by former activists in the segregationist White Citizens' Councils
Ideology: White supremacy, white separatism
Outreach: Mass mailings, prison newsletter
Approach: Advances its ideology by inflaming fears and resentments, among Southern whites particularly, with regard to black-on-white crime, non-white immigration, attacks on the public display of the Confederate flag, and other issues related to "traditional" Southern culture.
Connections: Several mainstream figures have spoken at or attended CCC meetings, including Senator Trent Lott; Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour; Mississippi state senators Gary Jackson and Dean Kirby; and several Mississippi state representatives. Former governors Guy Hunt of Alabama and Kirk Fordice of Mississippi also spoke at CCC meetings.
Extremist associations: David Duke, Mark Cotterill, Chris Temple, Jared Taylor, Paul Fromm
...
However, the ante was upped a few days later when Post reporter Thomas Edsall revealed that Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott had appeared as the keynote speaker at a 1992 meeting of the CCC in Greenwood, Mississippi. In the article, Edsall cited an issue of The Citizens Informer that featured a large photograph of Senator Lott at a CCC conference and quoted him as telling attendees that "we need more meetings like this." According to the Informer, Lott asserted that "the people in this room stand for the right principles and the right philosophy. Let's take it in the right direction and our children will be the beneficiaries." Lott's involvement was more complicated than Barr's, because Lott originally denied firsthand knowledge of the CCC (later having to backtrack on this statement) and because, as opposed to Barr, there was evidence of an ongoing relationship. CCC leaders revealed that Lott had spoken to them on more than one occasion; that his syndicated column regularly ran in The Citizens Informer, and that his uncle, a member of the Council's Executive Board, called him an "honorary member." Lott later criticized the CCC's use of his name in their publications, denied membership and claimed ignorance as to the racist nature of the group's rhetoric. Unlike Barr, however, he never condemned the group's racist ideology explicitly and unequivocally. ADL

The last sentence is very troubling. He appears to have distanced himself from this group but still has not condemned it's stance on racist ideology explicitly and unequivocally.

I do not want Mississippi to be the poster child of racism any longer. We must get rid of those politicians who associate with groups like the Council of Conservative Cititzens. That includes Governor Haley Barbour. It's easy to see why the state referendumum to change the state flag failed, Kirk Fordice was the chairman responsible for designing and promoting the new flag. His name is counted among those who spoke at CCC meetings. I debated with everyone I could that we needed to change the flag, to no avail.

New voices are needed to free us from the hateful racism that Mississippi is associated with.

6 Comments:

Anonymous Jonathan said...

Seawitch (or Karen), this was a great, gutsy post, on so many levels. I really found your candor and curiosity very refreshing, right now. From here (Northern Virginia), it looked to me like Lott got a raw deal. But the whole thing never sat well with me. His recent appearance on the talk shows last Sunday were unimpressive. He seems really bitter. Your post got me thinking about how Lott might look from Mississippi.

Any post that invites me to think is better than any post that tells me what to think.

9:11 PM  
Anonymous seawitch said...

jonathan,

Thank you.

Bitter is how he came across to me when I read some of his interviews about his book. Blaming others for his mistakes. The JWR article really got me thinking about the birthday remark, plus not apologizing when the most of the Senate did about lynching.

9:44 PM  
Blogger St. Casserole said...

Lott could have changed his ways after the Strom Thurmon remark and re-invented himself as the Elder Statesman for racial inclusivity. But, NO.
I am curious about his book but will borrow a copy rather than buy one. I can't see adding to his "purse" anymore than we do daily as Mississippian. Good post.

3:33 AM  
Anonymous seawitch said...

Thanks. I think I will pass on the book. I am glad to see that as a Mississippian you agree with me about his remarks.

3:51 AM  
Blogger Sigmund, Carl and Alfred said...

Good post. Great minds and all that...see this http://sigcarlfred.blogspot.com/2005/07/robert-e-lee-osama-bin-laden-and-civil.html

2:39 PM  
Anonymous seawitch said...

scg&a,

Thank you. I read your post and the other one about Senator Lott and Sneator Cochran not apologizing when they had the chance in the Senate. I didn't want to think Lott's actions could be considered racist but in light of the information on his connection with CCC, it puts his other actions in a new light.

3:23 PM  

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