Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Hillary ripped for hosting birthday party for Robert "Sheets" Byrd at Frederick Douglass' house

From the Charleston Daily Mail:
Possible Republican challenger Jeanine Pirro has criticized Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton for co-sponsoring a birthday party for Sen. Robert C. Byrd, citing his long-ago membership in the Ku Klux Klan and a racially charged 2001 comment.

Pirro's complaint came a day after The Washington Post reported that Clinton and the Senate's eight other Democratic female senators were hosting a 88th birthday party for Byrd, a West Virginia Democrat, Tuesday night at the home of civil rights pioneer Frederick Douglass.

"It's outrageous and shocking that Senator Clinton and her Democrat colleagues would choose Frederick Douglass' house to honor Senator Robert Byrd, who has a history of involvement with hate groups and has used racial slurs publicly,'' said Pirro spokeswoman Andrea Tantaros.

The Clinton camp, in turn, accused the Westchester County district attorney of running "a campaign of insults and attacks.''

Byrd is the dean of Senate Democrats and one of the first people the former first lady turned to for advice after her election in 2000. But he also has a past that he has said continues to haunt him, including a brief membership in the KKK in 1942.

"Becoming involved with the KKK was the most egregious mistake I have ever made,'' Byrd said in 1999.

Two years later, during a "Fox News Sunday'' interview, Byrd was discussing race relations in the United States and said, "I've seen a lot of white niggers in my time.'' The senator subsequently apologized, saying "the phrase dates back to my boyhood and has no place in today's society.''
Oh, Sheets' Klan membership may have been brief; he left the Klan, but the Klan didn't leave him.

From the Opinion Journal in 2002:
At the time of his "white nigger" remarks last year, no national papers bothered to mention two letters that the Senator had distanced himself from, Clinton-style, by saying he didn't recall writing them, though he also didn't dispute them. The New York Times reported in 1971 on a letter Mr. Byrd wrote in 1946, after leaving the Klan. Writing to the Klan's Imperial Wizard, Mr. Byrd identified himself as a former Kleagle and recommended a person to serve as state Klan coordinator. He wrote, "The Klan is needed today as never before and I am anxious to see its rebirth here in West Virginia. . . . It is necessary that the order be promoted immediately and in every state in the Union. Will you please inform me as to the possibilities of rebuilding the Klan realm of W. Va?"

And in a 1947 letter, after Mr. Byrd had been elected to the state senate, he wrote that he would "never submit to fight beneath that banner (the American flag) with a Negro by my side. Rather I should die a thousand times, and see old Glory trampled in the dirt never to rise again, than to see this beloved land of ours become degraded by race mongrels, a throwback to the blackest specimen from the wilds."
Flash forward to the 1960s: Byrd was one of the Democratic senators who filibustered the 1964 Civil Rights Bill:

From the US Senate web site:
At 9:51 on the morning of June 10, 1964, Senator Robert C. Byrd completed an address that he had begun fourteen hours and thirteen minutes earlier. The subject was the pending Civil Rights Act of 1964, a measure that occupied the Senate for fifty-seven working days, including six Saturdays. A day earlier, Democratic Whip Hubert Humphrey, the bill's manager, concluded he had the sixty-seven votes required at that time to end the debate.

The Civil Rights Act provided protection of voting rights; banned discrimination in public facilities including private businesses offering public services such as lunch counters, hotels, and theaters; and established equal employment opportunity as the law of the land.
And Hillary is supposed to be so smart!

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