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ItsAHabit's avatar

Why Was Sen. Byrds KKK Activity Minimized?

Asked by ItsAHabit (2297points) July 6th, 2010

Why was Sen. Byrd’s KKK membership and recruiting activities for the Klan glossed over after his death?

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27 Answers

chyna's avatar

Because it was very old news and he has not been a member of the KKK in many, many years. He regreted his involvement in the KKK and never tried to hide it. He discussed it with President Obama, who did bring it up at Senator Byrds memorial.

dpworkin's avatar

He spent most of his elected life actively making up for his early lapses, and never ceased apologizing in a direct, thoughtful and serious manner.

josie's avatar

No more so than Sen Kennedy getting away with, at best, vehicular homicide.

Response moderated (Unhelpful)
dpworkin's avatar

@josie How on earth are personal behavior in an auto accident and membership by a politician in a racist organization in any fashion related, except in your wish to take a shot at a dead Kennedy? You are shameless.

jaytkay's avatar

Glossed over by who? It was mentioned the morning of his death on NPR. It was mentioned at his very public funeral.

When President Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, he said “We have lost the South for a generation.”

Senator Byrd stuck with the Democrats.

Those who couldn’t abide black people voting and going to school left the party. Jesse Helms, Strom Thurmond, Trent Lott…and thousands of other notable bigots left to make the Republican party what it is today.

josie's avatar

@dpworkin What is the difference in reprehensible personal behaviour other than the specific context. How come you don’t dog the guy who took a shot at the dead Sen Byrd by asking if his clan activities were glossed over. And why is one corrupt politician more sacred than another?

dpworkin's avatar

@josie Your pyrotechnics fool no one. Everyone noticed that I defended Byrd, while you attacked Kennedy.

jazmina88's avatar

I think many politicians, both parties, including sitting Presidents, excluding the current, have gotten away with so much disgusting behavior for the sake of their political party. Presidents whose memory goes blank when talk of scandal comes forth.
They are above ethics apparently. Except nixon.

josie's avatar

@dpworkin I am not trying to fool anybody. And I probably am shameless, but not more so than Byrd or Kennedy

dpworkin's avatar

At least we agree that you are shameless.

Cruiser's avatar

Because back then a lot of Southern Whities had a hooded smock in the back of the closet and most are afraid now to admit it.

ItsAHabit's avatar

Yes, I heard it mentioned on NPR and also Clinton’s defense of Byrd’s membership. Both struck me as glossing over his Klan recruiting activities.

SmashTheState's avatar

It’s embarassing, not because the Kluxers are racist (the government is itself racist and supports the KKK’s goals) but because they’re revolutionary. The State doesn’t want to do or say anything which will promote an organization which threatens their own tyrannical power. So their servants in the corporate media obediently sweep Byrd’s past under the rug.

dpworkin's avatar

@SmashTheState Idiocy from the left is just as shameless as idiocy from the right, but at least I find your brand of shamelessness amusing; perhaps because of my past as a Soixant-Huitard. All your bullshit was a dear part of my adolescence.

jaytkay's avatar

@ItsAHabit Yes, I heard it mentioned on NPR and also Clinton’s defense of Byrd’s membership. Both struck me as glossing over his Klan recruiting activities.

They emphasized the last 60 years of his life, in the US House and Senate? And his work for civil rights?

Instead of the first 30 as a welder and grocery clerk?

Shocking.

SmashTheState's avatar

@dpworkin Just because you were, to quote Jello Biafra in Chickenshit Conformist, “harder core than thou for a year or two, then it’s time to get a real job,” doesn’t mean the rest of us are too. I’m 42 years old with 25 years of experience as an activist and community organizer, thank you, not some naive teenybopper with a circle-A t-shirt and a skateboard. It is a fact of historical reality that until about 50 years ago, the KKK was an organization respected and approved of by the US government. In fact, several US presidents were either honourary members, or held KKK events at the White House. It was only when Amerikan domestic policy began to drifft away from open and acknowledged institutional racism (and moved instead to hidden and tacit racism instead) that they turned against the KKK, as a result of the threat the KKK’s subversive support of open racism posed to the State’s hegemony on power.

dpworkin's avatar

Oh, why does it not make perfect sense to me that a Black president is heading a government that is actively (although covertly) supporting the agenda of a defunct KKK? 42 years of experience doesn’t seem to do much to potentiate reason, nor have you the right to comment on what I was doing before you were alive. You have no idea.

JLeslie's avatar

@jaytkay I am not arguing with you, but ironically all of the Republicans around me here in the midsouth seem quick to tell me that white Democrats in the south are racists. I guess maybe they are trying to tell me who I am aligned with. I find it ridiculous.

@all, I realize Byrd was a KKK member, but did he actively do anything harmful or abusive to anyone? Believe me I think the mere existence of theh KKK is harmful, but I mean did he do anything criminal? Or, was he just kind of going along with the other whites in power at the time, and giving in to his own weak fears at the time.

I mean if Jews can be friends with Germans now, I guess we can overlook Byrd for being an ass in the early part of his life.

WestRiverrat's avatar

@JLeslie Byrd was a Grand Kleagle. What I get from my brief research, a Kleagle is a recruiting officer. A Grand Kleagle is the head recruiting officer for the state. So Byrd may not have directly broken any laws, but you can bet he recruited some that did.

Byrd did a lot of good things for his state, but I don’t think he deserves the pass he is getting for his time in the KKK. If he does, Strom Thurmond deserves the same pass. He was the senator that hired the first black to be on a senatorial staff.

dpworkin's avatar

He doesn’t get a pass. It was a large part of his obituary. He predicted that in sorrow and it came true. What else do you want? Posthumous impeachment?

ItsAHabit's avatar

Trent Lott had to resign after making positive comments about former presidential candidate Strom Thurmond, even though he explicitly rejected Thurmond’s racist views.

jaytkay's avatar

Lott praised Thurmond’s 1948 campaign, which was fighting for segregation and poll taxes, and against a proposed Federal anti-lynching law. Lott has also recently expressed anger at 1950s & 1960s Federal anti-segregation moves.

His dishonest apologies don’t hide the fact Lott gets dreamy-eyed and nostalgic about lynching, segregation and disenfranchisement.

syzygy2600's avatar

@SmashTheState 42 years old and you sound like a fuckin 15 year old who just discovered rage against the machine. He didn’t get a pass, i’ve heard it mentioned numerous times from multiple sources.

ItsAHabit's avatar

Lott and Byrd seem to be six of one or half a dozen of the other. I think it takes a strong partisan to see any significant difference between them on this matter.

Drawkward's avatar

Because what was (and may still be) acceptable in the south isn’t always acceptable in the context of the larger country.

ItsAHabit's avatar

The Ku Klux Klan was “acceptable” from California to Long Island, NY in the early 1920s. For example, in the 1920s, over 25 percent of native-born men in the entire state of Indiana were official members of the Ku Klux Klan. The Klan’s membership was many times larger than any of the popular veterans’ organizations and was even larger than the Methodist church, the state’s biggest Protestant denomination. And women‘s auxiliaries added even more members, many of whom were members of both the Klan and the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU).

The rapid growth of the new KKK of the 1920s probably reflected the fact that it promised to both support and enforce prohibition. Indeed, the anti-alcohol was one of the major supporters of prohibition:
• The Ku Klux Klan was “revived in Atlanta in 1915 to defend Prohibition,” which existed in Georgia at that time.
• “Prohibition became one of the Klan’s leading issues” and the Klan strongly supported both Prohibition and its strict enforcement.
• The Ku Klux Klan “adopted prohibition as a central rallying cry.”
• “Enforcing Prohibition was a cornerstone of the KKK’s ‘reform’ agenda.”
• “Enforcement of Prohibition, in fact, was a central, and perhaps the strongest, goal of the Ku Klux Klan.”

Of course, by the time Byrd was a recruiter, the KKK had long been discredited throughout the country. Membership, much less recruiting, was far from acceptable.

http://www2.potsdam.edu/hansondj/Controversies/1107362364.html

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