It got personal, no guesses on why
When the Republican Party swept into power in the November 2002 US midterm elections, Trent Lott, was then the Rep Minority Leader, on his way to becoming a very powerful man – the Senate Majority Leader, a position that unfortunately for him, he would have held, had he not decided to put both his feet in his mouth at a dinner, for another Republican Senator, the late Strom Thurmond.
Before I proceed further, let me acquaint you with Strom Thurmond. An ultra-right wing conservative with a Martin Bormann-like sneer, Strom Thurmond had run for the Presidency in 1948 on the State’s Rights Ticket. This platform essentially opposed any attempt by the Federal government to enforce civil rights legislation. It was also unashamedly segregationist, meaning that Thurmond, if elected, would have reversed all the legislation that allowed blacks and whites to go to the same schools, the same bars and restaurants, live in the same neighborhoods, work in similar professional positions and travel by the same public transport.
Thurmond had made an entire career out of holding rabidly racist positions on any number of issues. He even forced himself upon a hapless 16-year old African-American maid in his house, an act which was definitely rape and should have merited a minimum 10-year prison sentence and disbarred him from politics for life. Of course that didn’t happen. This is America.
As if rape wasn’t enough, Thurmond went on to father a daughter from that union. Then, having produced a child, not only did he never acknowledge her publicly as his daughter but managed buy her silence and have it hushed up and kept a secret till after he died at the age of 100, in 2003. May his soul never rest in peace.
But hey, like I said, this is America. Screwing black help has always been du jour here for centuries. Even their most haloed idols have coerced their negro maids into having sex. Their third Pres, Thomas Jefferson, after whom every city and town in America has at least one bridge or avenue named, had sex with his black female slaves. One bore him six children, the first being born when the maid he raped was just 14.
Instead of his name being erased from every monument, street, public building and bridge for practising pedophilia on a hapless underage black girl, Thomas Jefferson is celebrated today as one of the greatest Presidents Americans have ever seen, feted for having a hand in writing the very same Constitution that was supposed to outlaw the very same crimes that he had committed.
Getting back to this other guy whom I mentioned in the first paragraph – Trent Lott, in December 2002 he appeared at a dinner hosted by the Republican Party of the US, to celebrating Strom Thurmond’s 100th birthday. At that dinner he made this public announcement as a part of a eulogy:
“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 the years, either”
What Lott was effectively saying was that America would have been better off, if it had voted for a racist in the 1940s and opposed civil rights. The point that this was exactly the reason why Thurmond did not get elected in the first place, appeared to have escaped Lott.
Dick Cheney, George W Bush, Trent Lott, George HW Bush at Strom Thurmond’s 100th birthday bash. Reminds me of a photo I saw somewhere of a formal dinner at the 1942 Wansee Conference
At the dinner all the big honchos of the American mainstream media were present but nobody reached for his phone. No one took notice of Lott’s blatantly racist comments.
But thank God for the internet. Lott’s words were soon all over the web and the story quickly went out of control. The national press was forced to sit up and take notice, however reluctantly. Lott appeared hurriedly on TV to do some damage control, claiming that he had actually been referring to Thurmond’s economic and foreign policies.
That could very well have been true, except for the fact that Strom Thurmond never had anything new or earth-shattering to offer as regards the economy or foreign relations. Rednecks rarely do. Have you seen the Republican Party of the US come up with better solutions for anything – the immigration reforms, the healthcare reforms, the Israeli-Arab situation, Syria, Iraq…… anywhere?
All Thurmond ever had to offer in his entire political career was overt racism. Lott’s attempt at putting out the fires that his eulogy had started, actually ended up stoking them. He resigned as the leader of the Reps in the Senate fifteen days after his ill-conceived eulogy.
On the Monday following Lott’s infamous remarks, another funny thing happened – Lott’s Democratic Party counterpart and leader of the Senate, Tom Daschle, quickly came to his rescue, with this all’s well, boys will be boys gesture…
“There are a lot of times when he and I go to the microphone and would like to say things we meant to say differently, and I’m sure this was one of those cases for him, as well”
To anybody who is liberal (white or black), the Trent Lott case was disconcerting –
One – That a senior politician like Trent Lott made those comments was in itself appalling, even though they were in character, his character. While an undergraduate at the University of Mississippi, Lott led an effort at the 1964 national convention of the Sigma Nu fraternity to oppose a civil rights amendment proposed by the Dartmouth College and Duke University chapters to end mandatory racial exclusion by the fraternity. Lott sided with the segregationists who defeated the amendment. The Dartmouth chapter subsequently seceded from the fraternity, and Sigma Nu remained whites-only. And this was going on in college, where we are given to understand that folk go to study.
But let me not open the can of worms called fraternities and sororities, US-specific cult-like mainly whites-only groups of students, mostly sons and daughters of US establishment figures, the rich and the famous. You won’t be able to sleep at night if I told you about these.
Two – The American Press did not exercise the right to freedom of expression and did not bother to report on Lott’s comments until after they were forced to, by the internet. There is an almost endemic lack of social conscience and subservience to the establishment on the part of the US media houses that has since been well documented, the most glaring being the blind support for the 2003 invasion of Iraq, even after the myth about the WMD in Iraq was exposed as a lie.
On September 9, 2009, President Obama was invited to address a joint session of Congress to outline his proposal for reforming health care in the US, an effort that would culminate later on, to a widely popular law that is now known as Obamacare. During his address, Obama said: “There are also those who claim that our reform effort will insure illegal immigrants. This is false – the reforms I’m proposing would not apply to those who are here illegally.”
Addison Graves “Joe” Wilson, Sr. of the U.S. House of Representatives did not allow the President the courtesy of finishing his sentence. In an unprecedented breach of decorum, he pointed his index finger at the President and shouted twice, “You lie!”
Now that’s what I would call a snarl. Joe Wilson, behaving like he really is – a redneck
Later, in a 240-179 vote, the House passed a resolution of ‘disapproval’, a mild rebuke to Rep Joe Wilson for his obnoxious behaviour. Republicans agreed that Wilson was out of line but said the House rebuke was a ‘useless diversion’.
House Republican leader, John Boehner, called the resolution a ‘partisan stunt’ and noted that Wilson had already apologised, so that was that, the matter stood closed. “Joe Wilson’s a good man,” Boehner said. Meanwhile, Joe Wilson sent in a watered-down apology to the White House, not bothering to speak to the President himself in person. In his apology, he added a caveat – that he wouldn’t apologize a second time.
Here’s what I take away from this –
One – Full 43% (179 out of 419 reps) did not believe it was a big deal that Joe Wilson had brought disrespect to the nation’s highest office and insulted the President personally.
Two – Behaviour, that would have brought about immediate expulsion or at least suspension from parliament elsewhere, was seen instead as trivial, a non-issue for which a mere resolution would be sufficient. He was even given a certification by his own leader, that he was a ‘good man’.
I had always looked at America with awe, amazed that a 78% white nation, that had once thrived on slavery, would turn around and elect a black President. I had revered America. But as the number of insults and slights that this President has had to bear over the years have kept growing (like the petty Donald Trump and his Obama birth certificate issue), I have begun having having serious reservations on whether this nation has really been able to put it’s horrific past behind.
The Trent Lott – Strom Thurmond as well as the John Boehner – Joe Wilson affairs brought home something else to me – No matter which party a white politician belongs to, he is politically incestuous and will either stand up for another white politician or police officer or in the best case, just refrain from making any comment. Where was Hillary Clinton when the crowds marching across America, protesting the ugly intersection of racism, law enforcement and economics in the wake of the Michael Brown and Eric Garner killings? It took her 19 days to come out with a carefully worded statement and that too only because she is a contender for the 2016 US Presidential elections and doesn’t want to lose the black vote in the run-up.
The US Republican Party’s personalized targeting of Barrack Obama as a human being, rather than a sitting President, is unprecedented and unrelenting. I shudder to think what might have happened if Obama had turned out to be a philanderer like JFK or Bill Clinton. I am quite sure he would have been strung up and lynched from the nearest oak.
It would perhaps have not been so worrisome, if the Republicans had managed to keep this blindly hateful racial bias within and striven to show a united front to the outside world, especially to it’s adversaries (who are many) and not let it spill it’s toxicity out into international waters. But that was a bit too much to ask of the hawks.
Following close on the heels of the unprecedented invitation to the Israeli PM, Netanyahu, to lecture (more appropriately, harangue) the US Congress on America’s foreign policy, this Monday the world woke up to something even more outrageous, leaving the most hardened political commentator shocked beyond belief.
A one-page ‘open letter’ appeared in the press on Monday, signed by a number of Senate Republicans, that was addressed to “leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran.” It stated in no uncertain terms that any nuclear deal that Iran signs with the Obama White House should be ratified by the US Congress, in order to be ‘a binding international agreement’ or else it will just be an executive agreement that could get reversed when Obama leaves office.
The letter goes on to ‘enrich the Iranians’ knowledge’ of the US constitution in a veiled and arrogant manner, it’s style absolutely astonishing in it’s crudeness….
’…..the president may serve only two 4-year terms, whereas senators may serve an unlimited number of 6-year terms. As applied today, for instance, President Obama will leave office in January 2017, while most of us will remain in office well beyond then—perhaps decades… The next president could revoke such an executive agreement with the stroke of a pen….’
I am not trying to argue the merits of the deal that Obama and the Iranians are working on. I am trying to fathom how much a man, who is just doing his job the best way he can, one that he has so far done in an exemplary manner, how much he would have to be hated for such a glaring breach of diplomatic protocol to be committed.
I am certain that the Republican Party of the US was completely aware that the Iranians know how the US Government works or what it’s constitutional requirements are. There was no real need for a tutorial on that. The US Constitution is after all, a public document.
This letter was no ‘enrichment exercise’. It was a message, not only to Iran, but for the world – Barrack Obama doesn’t count. If you want a deal, deal with us.
God help America.