Friday, June 27, 2003
Front Page Haiku
Strom meets his Maker
What's God gonna think of a
Had he died a year sooner, Trent Lott would still be Majority Leader. One of the troubling things about Thurmond is that he is so old, he takes us back to an entirely different era where open bigotry was not only OK but expected in certain quarters. We don't want to think about an era that had pluralities of Southern states voting for an openly segregationist presidential ticket in 1948, and that a young 45-year-old Thurmond headed up that ticket.
Yet he stayed in politics another five-and-a-half decades, going from an era where the military was just starting to get integrated to a point where the Secretary of State was a black four-star general. The country has seen the error of its ways and has rejected those old views. There were quite a few populists whites in the South that saw things in Us-versus-Them mode, and the civil rights Yankees were Them. Fast forward a quarter-century, and those same rednecks grew to see that their black neighbors were Us, especially when they got the right to vote.
How much of Strom's change from segregationist to a more color-blind stance is political expediency or personal growth is a point of debate, but we've seen in that half-century the debate change from one of bigotry versus color-blindness to one of color-blindness versus positive discrimination. Many people have move to what in the 1960s would have been a liberal position, only to see the posts moved on them.
As we move away in time from the contentiousness of the 60s and early 70s, the redneck politicians of that era are dying off or retiring. While liberals like to label the GOP via Strom as the party of Jim Crow, Strom was a Democrat at the time. It was a Dixiecrat ticket, remember? With Strom's passing, we come closer to having a post-Civil Rights Era discussion without name-calling from the 60s.
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