Strom Thurmond dead at last
By Lee Sustar | July 4, 2003 | Page 2
THE WORLD became a better place last month with the death of former Sen. Strom Thurmond (R-S.C.).
Just last December, the 100-year-old reactionary's racist views again became the subject of controversy when Sen. Trent Lott (R-Miss.) was hounded out of his role as Senate majority leader for praising Thurmond's 1948 presidential campaign to defend racial segregation. Nevertheless, when he finally died, Democrats joined Republicans in praising the disgusting old racist--including Sen. Joe Biden (D-Del.), who gave the eulogy at Thurmond's funeral.
"Strom Thurmond's soul is free today," Biden said, claiming that Thurmond had repented. Yet in a 1998 interview, Thurmond told a reporter, "I don't have anything to apologize for."
More than half a century ago, Thurmond became the spokesperson for Southern Democrats, known as "Dixiecrats," who stayed in power by denying African Americans the right to vote. "There's not enough troops in the Army to force the Southern people to break down segregation and admit the Nigra race into our theaters, into our swimming pools, into our homes, and into our churches," he said on the campaign trail.
He later helped write the Dixiecrats' "Southern Manifesto." Thurmond raved, "The white people of the South are the greatest minority in this nation...They deserve consideration and understanding instead of the persecution of twisted propaganda." In 1964, Thurmond pioneered what would become the Republicans' "Southern strategy"--switching parties to pull Southern white voters into the GOP.
By the early 1970s, Thurmond tried to change his image by becoming the first senator to hire a Black aide. This wasn't a change of heart, but part of the GOP effort to repackage race-baiting politics from the issues of segregation and civil rights and onto crime, welfare and taxes.
Yet if Thurmond grew quiet about his nostalgia for white supremacy, his notorious lechery continued until his long-overdue death. As a judge, Thurmond reportedly had sex with a woman death row prisoner on her way to the execution chamber.
No women aides or staffers were safe from Thurmond's groping hands, even when he could barely sit up in his wheelchair. Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) was reportedly among his victims. "When he dies, they'll have to beat his pecker down with a baseball bat in order to close the coffin lid," the late Sen. John Tower (R-Tex.) once said. Just make sure that lid stays closed.