December 09, 2002


LOTT'S GAFFE AND A BYRD TANGENT: The Senate Majority Leader swooning over Thurmond '48 is simply indefensible. Calls for his head are justified. (If you're reading this fairly soon after I'm writing it, you can go to InstaPundit's main page and just keep scrolling for more on this-- including links to Andrew Sullivan and Virginia Postrel calling for Lott's ouster.) But I have to add that Josh Marshall's comment, that this is "Just another example of the hubris now reigning among Capitol Hill Republicans," is almost as offensive as Lott's. If Marshall really thinks that Jim Crow nostalgia is rampant among Republicans, he's blinded by partisan hatred. Since that's not his usual posture, I'll assume he meant it in a much narrower sense-- that Republicans think they can say anything they want. But this is not what Republicans want to say. At least, I hope not.

A left-of-center Beltway opinion journalist is allowed to shoot off in a way that a Senate Majority Leader shouldn't be. It may be worth noting that the Democrats had a former Klansman as Majority Leader as recently as thirteen years ago, but while regular readers know that Robert Byrd is not my favorite person, I actually defended the "white niggers" comment (which was ten years after Byrd left the Majority Leadership). This was before I was either blogging or writing professionally, so my defense appeared in now-dead internet discussion forums and an email to Andrew Sullivan.* My basic point was that Byrd meant "nigger" metaphorically as all the worst stereotypes of blacks, and was saying, correctly, that many whites fit those stereotypes, too-- and the stereotypes are thus stupid.

Maybe there's a defense that can be mounted for Lott, but I can't see it. His remarks strike me as way worse than the ex-Klansman's.

*I'm the "20-year-old reader" Sullivan refered to here (hard to believe this was nearly three years ago), noting Chris Rock's "black people and niggers" routine. I also fed him the tidbit about Eminem, though the interview I referred to was after Eminem's first major-label album (his second, more overtly gay-hating-for-shock-value album was out by the time this was posted); denizens of the Detroit underground probably wouldn't consider that "early in his career." It admittedly seems more like that now, though.

Posted by John Tabin at December 9, 2002 07:53 AM