Flap over Trent Lott uncalled for

Many things happened these past few winter weeks. But none was more insignificant, yet in many eyes more important, than what incoming Republican Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott said at a birthday party.

His words eventually led to his stepping down as Senate majority leader on Jan. 6, the day before the Senate reconvened. Bill Frist, a Republican from Tennessee, has taken his place.

“”In the interest of pursuing the best possible agenda for the future of our country, I will not seek to remain as majority leader of the United States Senate for the 108th Congress,”” Lott said after realizing that the political damage he had as of then sustained was irrepairable.

This bit of non-proportional controversy arose after he made a remark at former Sen. Strom Thurmond’s 100th birthday party that some assumed was praise for the 54-year-old segregationist policies of the 1940s Dixiecrats.

Thurmond had denounced these policies later in his career, switching parties from Democrat to Republican. “”I want to say this about my state: When Strom Thurmond ran for president, we voted for him. We’re proud of it,”” Lott said on Dec. 5. “”And if the rest of the country had followed our lead, we wouldn’t have had all these problems over all these years, either.””

Shortly after, President George W. Bush weighed in on the matter. “”Any suggestion that the segregated past was acceptable or positive is offensive and it is wrong,”” the president said. “”Recent comments by Senator Lott do not reflect the spirit of our country.”” The strange thing is that Lott made no reference to the segregationist policies of Thurmond’s platform, yet had to dive immediately into damage control when members of the media eagerly connected the dots for the rest of us. Lott tried to explain that he was merely attempting to cheer up an old man on his birthday.

Even Tom Daschle, the outgoing Senate majority leader who originally accepted Lott’s apology, later insisted on “”a fuller explanation.””

Answering his critics, Lott explained what he meant by his comment in an interview on Black Entertainment Television. “”I saw a senator that was committed in the fight against communism, that had fought Nazism, [and] a senator that was for fiscal responsibility,”” he said. “”And one that also thought that law and order was very important.”” These were the “”problems”” he was referring to, not integration of races.

Before making his decision to step down, Lott appeared to abandon his conservative positions. On B.E.T., Lott all but stopped short of saying all conservative stands on race are racist. Asked if he supported affirmative action Lott said, “”I’m for that,”” although his voting record suggests otherwise.

Affirmative action policies have long since been opposed by conservatives as as an attempt to use racism (against the supposed “”privileged”” groups in society) to stop racism. Racism is the belief that one race is somehow superior than another. And the implementation of a system such as affirmative action, which touts inferiority of certain groups by claiming them as in need of “”special”” treatment because of nothing else except the color of their skin, is just as racist as any other kind of conceivable racism.

Instead of justifying his standpoint, Lott began taking standpoints in a desperate public relations struggle. Frantically abandoning more core conservative principles, Lott also said on B.E.T. that he would have voted in favor of the Martin Luther King Jr. national holiday if he could turn back time. At the time, Lott had believed that the holiday, along with any new funded federal holidays, would be an unnecessary burden on the federal budget, which would then find its way back to the taxpayer.

So there he was, trying to dig himself out of a political grave, and at the same time digging another one within his own party. No wonder he had no support; the Dems wanted to destroy him while the Republicans wanted nothing to do with him.

He spelled out the conservative position on B.E.T., saying that he did not support “”creating more paid federal holidays that … cost $300 million or more … [and I was in favor of] consolidating the Washington and Lincoln birthdays into one.””

Fiscal austerity has long been a trademark of the Republican party, and for Senator Lott to abandon this position once he found himself in hot water is a smack in the face to conservatives. The assumption here is that conservatives must rethink their core principles in order to not be seen as racist by a portion of the American public. This is inherently wrong since positions that conservatives hold on race — that we shouldn’t don the blinders of race and instead concentrate on the individual — are the essence of equality.

The most important misconception, indeed the most successful, myopic, distorted view of race, is that people succeed or fail as a group. They don’t; they succeed or fail as individuals. Yet this is exactly the type of refusal of individual responsibility for your actions — you can just blame your group membership — that has been drilled into our brains by the liberal elite.

For some, group membership is important when it brings benefits with it. But it’s about time we treat people of all colors and creeds as individuals, not falsely lump them into groups. Even worse, members of the left are trying to link Lott’s supposedly racist statement to the myth that the Republican party is a racist party, forgetting that Republicans are the party of President Lincoln — the party that fought for an end to slavery in our civil war. (Here come the assaults that the Civil War wasn’t about slavery.)

Republicans were the party of the freedmen directly following the Civil War and up until the 1950s when they adopted states’ rights stands. The Jim Crow laws of white-black segregation can be said to be the result of pushing for greater states’ rights, and were supported by some racists for this end. But others hold that these laws were merely a by-product of the practice of state’s rights, a conservative political philosophy that pushes for a usurpation of federal power by giving more power to individual states, thereby reducing the possibility of federal tyranny.

Former President Bill Clinton summed up the democratic talking points on this matter concisely when he said, “”How can they [Republicans] attack him [Lott]? He just embarrasses them by saying in Washington what they do on the back rows.””

What Clinton and other prominent Dems are alluding to is the large, racist segment of the population that the Republican party panders to.

But I challenge those who believe in this absurd conspiracy theory to dig up the facts to where racism would pay off in an election. Wouldn’t political racism lead to a net loss of votes? If you don’t believe so, put down “”Conspiracy Theories for Dummies”” and wake up.

For those of you in tune to conspiracy theories, it could just as easily be the modern democratic party that panders to racists.

It was none other than ex-President Clinton who in 1993 awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Sen. J. William Fulbright, a former segregationist. Was Clinton chastised? No. Or how about Clinton’s membership to an elite golf club that that shunned memberships to those that didn’t fit their “”correct”” profile while he was running for president in the early ’90s?

And what about former Ku Klux Klan member, now Democratic Sen. Robert Byrd, saying a short while ago on “”Fox News Sunday”” the “”N”” word? What about Senator Byrd and his filibuster of the 1964 Civil Rights Act with none other than Al Gore Sr., stalling a vote for more than a dozen hours? And contrary to the popular belief that Republicans are the party of racists, more Republicans than Democrats voted in favor of that same bill.

Both parties have their skeletons. But to essentially crucify Lott for minor remarks when similar actions or remarks by Democrats go virtually undetected by the media is a double standard. For Democrats to excessively criticize Lott for praising a then member of their own party, not even mentioning segregation — yes, Thurmond was a Democrat at the time — and then trying to draw it out to the entire Republican party, is a gross political ploy, not to mention ludicrous.