Charles G. Hill at Dustbury.com has the most even-handed and, to my mind, the best statement on the late Strom Thurmond. Charles brings personal experience and a certain maturity to what has become a minor blogville shriek-o-fest, what with the many self-righteous cries on one side of "Good riddance, burn in hell you racist!" (in the comments) and of "How dare you speak ill of Strom Thurmond, he was a great man, I'm delinking you so there!" on the other (in the post and the comments).
Here is my personal viewpoint of the matter: I don't know what his recent senate voting record was like, but I am pretty sure that he had stopped voting in favor of segregation some time ago. Sure, we have yahoos like Trent Lott who slipped up and basically admitted that they yearned for the good old days when Thurmond was in his prime and darkies knew their place. And I have the feeling that many of his constituents kept voting him into office out of nostalgia for that halcyon time when an illiterate white farmboy could openly consider himself superior to a black man with a college degree. But did Thurmond still hold those views? I have no idea -- I am pretty sure he didn't do so openly, though. I think it was a disgrace that someone so old and (at least physically) doddering should not have retired after a certain age -- say, before he needed two aides to hold him up all the time. I don't say this out of revulsion for old age. In many ways his refusal to retire had something of that present-day, in-your-face attitude that everyone seems to have -- a certain truculent refusal to take the other person into consideration because the universe revolves around me! me! me!
But I don't know that his current senatorial record isn't enough to offset the damage his segregation-era congressional career did. I do wonder at the wisdom of cursing people for what they did in their past, and disregarding anything they may have done in the present to make up for it. We talk a great deal about wanting to "heal" the wounds of racism, and of reforming racists, but what might a racist think when he sees this sort of thing? If we have given up on the lasting value of reform, what are we going to do instead, execute them?
Updated to add: this (the pertinent phrase is here if you don't want to read any more hosannas to St. Strom) is why I decided to make my blogroll private, by the way. The public, showy act of linking and delinking is just so much evidence that the internet is one big middle school. I was a misanthropic outsider who refused to participate in the shenanigans then, and I might as well be one now.
Update further: can it now be told -- was Strom Thurmond really a member of the Legions of the Undead? Zombie or vampire -- you make the call! (Come to think of it, he did resemble David Bowie's character in The Hunger, just before that character's demise. Hmmm.Posted by Andrea Harris at June 28, 2003 03:29 PM