Letters to the editor
December 13, 2002 | Page 6
Racist relic of the Senate turns 100
Dear Socialist Worker,
Amid much fanfare on Capitol Hill, retiring Sen. Strom Thurmond (R-S.C) recently celebrated his 100th birthday.
His fellow politicians had nothing bad to say about the man who's based his 48-year Senate career on racist bigotry. Thurmond is "a man of iron with a heart of gold," gushed Sen. Joseph Lieberman (D-Conn.). Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) declared, "He is not only a great man, he's done great things in his life."
Oh really? Like what? Like the fact that Thurmond once ran for president promising to end "social intermingling of the races"? Or perhaps that Thurmond authored the "Southern Manifesto" that urged Southerners to disobey the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court ruling in favor of school desegregation?
Or possibly it was the fact that Thurmond holds the record for the longest filibuster in history--24 hours and 18 minutes--against a 1957 civil rights bill? "There are not enough troops in the Army to force Southern people to admit the Negroes into our theaters, swimming pools and homes," the bigot once commented.
In addition to being a first-class racist, Thurmond is a notorious sexist and lecher as well. Last year, for example, while rolling down the hall in his wheelchair, he reportedly pointed to his lap and asked a female congressional staffer: "Want a ride?"
Now, to honor this decrepit geezer, the Air Force is naming its 100th C-17 cargo plane the "Spirit of Strom Thurmond"--and South Carolina Gov. Jim Hodges declared "Strom Thurmond Day" in South Carolina "to reflect on the many blessings he has bestowed upon our state throughout his life."
The only reason to celebrate anything to do with Thurmond will be to bid him "good riddance" on the day that he draws his last bigoted breath.
Nicole Colson, Chicago
Dear Socialist Worker,
I disagree with Joe Grossman's view that "as long as Americans view their flag positively we should embrace it." (SW, November 22)
Workers in the U.S. have far more in common with the people of Iraq than we do with the flag-waving bigots who cut our budgets while they spend billions bombing our Iraqi brothers and sisters. Moreover, the use of the flag in the antiwar movement implies that the U.S. can play a good role in world affairs. One look at the U.S. record of mass slaughter shows this isn't the case.
As the American socialist John Reed put it: "Uncle Sam never gives anybody something for nothing. He comes along with a sack stuffed with hay in one hand and a whip in the other." This applies particularly to workers in the U.S. who are being told that they should be patriotic and accept pay cuts and budget cuts "for the good of the country."
As socialists, we should argue for a movement that includes anyone who opposes the war, whether or not they carry the flag. But we also have to win people to seeing that the U.S. government is not a force for good, either abroad or at home.
If we are going to stop the U.S. war drive, we can't avoid arguing with people that the real solution involves embracing international solidarity with all oppressed peoples rather than the Stars and Stripes.
Mitch Lewis, Cambridge, Mass.
Dear Socialist Worker,
Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu's victory in the Louisiana senate runoff against George W. Bush-drone Suzanne Terrell is in no way a victory for ordinary working people. Landrieu voted with Bush 85 percent of the time during the last term and is a big money, political brat--the millionaire daughter of New Orleans Mayor Moon Landrieu.
Her victory, though, is a sweet and small black eye to Dubya at a time when every pundit in the wake of the November elections is speaking of his "popularity" in hushed tones. And Bush has been smirking more than ever.
Bush and his Republican plutocrat cronies pumped millions of dollars into the Lousiana runoff election, with Bush making many public appearances and giving Terrell his "private national donors list." In anticipation of another GOP win, Bush aides publicly dubbed the runoff "operation icing on the cake."
Terrell looked like she was going to win heading into the election, but the tide changed when the latest economic indicators put unemployment at 6 percent, and Landrieu made the economic future of the Louisiana sugar industry a defining issue--striking an anti-Mexico, anti-NAFTA stance with regards to one of Bush's pet projects.
Make no mistake, Landrieu is as craven as they come and brings new meaning to the phrase "Republican-lite." But Bush didn't get his "icing on the cake," he only got a big pie to the face. And that is a great reminder that there is a reservoir of anger against him that is only beginning to be tapped.
Dave Zirin, Washington, D.C.