Sunday, June 19, 2005

Bob "The Butcher" Byrd

or, Bob The Welder, Yes We Can!

Okay, okay. Just a little fun at the expense of Senator Robert C. Byrd (D-WV). Pictured on the right is the most famous butcher that I knew, before today.

I did not know that Sen. Byrd was a former butcher and later a welder in West Virginia during his Klan days. I also thought that the highest position that he attained in the Klu Klux Klan was that of Kleagle. His new book, "Robert C. Byrd: Child of the Appalachian Coalfields", details (well, some details are left out) his early days in the Klan as the "Exalted Cyclops," the top officer in the local Klan unit.

Exalted Cyclops, Kleagle or Beagle, it is not too important now. It is fun to throw rocks at the opposition and this is made easier when not quite the whole truth is told. The fact is that Robert Byrd has, over time, lifted himself above those early days and his poor, rural Appalachian bigotry.

I wish that, in his book and also through many interviews over the years, he had been completely truthful about the time frame involved. True, he was out of the Klan by the late '40's, but why does he claim that he was active only in '42 and '43? Why does he try to isolate those few years during the '40's as his bigoted period when he personally filibustered the 1960 Civil Rights Act for 14 hours, almost to the point of collapse on the Senate floor?

Embarrassment, I suppose. I can understand anyone who matures and changes over time. What I don't like is the hypocrisy and the holier-than-thou, elder-statesman-who-knows-best profundity. Sometimes he reminds me of John C. Calhoun, except that Calhoun went to his grave a racist and a bigot.

The same will not be said for Robert C. Byrd.

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