"Sperm" Thurmond's Legacy

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Strom Thurmond's family has acknowledged that the late senator and one-time segregationist is the father of "Essie Mae Washington-Williams, a Los Angeles woman whose black mother worked as a maid in Thurmond's parents' home as a teen-ager," as Reuters reports.

Thurmond is hardly the only nationally elected official to father illegitimate children–think of Dan Burton of Indiana, who famously called President Clinton a "scumbag"–and to his credit, he apparently supported Washington-Williams financially. Yet his political behavior was always disturbing and the years he spent trying to keep blacks down is made even more grotesque in light of the news.

Around the time of his death, Thurmond came in for all the testimonials that even loathsome characters (e.g, Nixon and, in the near future, Sen. Robert Byrd) get if they stick around long enough. Among the things Thurmond got credit for was "growing" on the race issue to the point that he even shoveled political pork to black areas of South Carolina. Too bad he didn't step forward when he could have with a revelation that would have radically altered race relations in America at a point in time when blacks, especially in the South, were still frequent targets of racially motivated violence and segregation.

Has anyone interviewed Trent Lott for a reaction? Does his high opinion of the old Thurmond still hold?

NEXT: Good Riddance and a Good Start

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  1. I really think it should be “Strom Spermond”. Yeah, that’s the one.

  2. “‘fucktard’ would NEVER be mistaken for rational discourse — or any sort of human discourse, for that matter.”

    I dunno Justin,

    The term “fucktard” seems quite appropriate in reference to politicians, who are, by their very nature, irrational and sub-human.

  3. if the fucktard fits… 🙂

  4. Fun with Raimondo quotes:

    “What I like about Byrd. . .he is the remnant of an age when “fucktard” would NEVER be mistaken for rational discourse — or any sort of human discourse, for that matter. Go wash out your mouth with soap and learn to speak like a human being.”

    “To R.C. Dean: You sound so … disappointed. But this “top” and “bottom” business is soooooo over (except in Britain, of course, where even the str8 guys act like fags).”

    Please define rational discourse.

  5. Public Servant:

    Was Raimondo not responding in that latter quote to the typical homophobic bullshit that lights up this board every time he posts something here? Take your simian taunting back over to Free Republic.

  6. Note to Raimondo:

    I’m pretty sure that calling Nick Gillespie or Virginia Postrel a “neocon” falls a bit short of “rational discourse,” too.

    Not that I think blog posts should be so constrained. After all, the best word I can think of to describe Mr. Raimondo remains “nincompoop.”

  7. MB,

    Sorry, I guess I did take the top/bottom quote out of context. I missed that it was a response to a rude comment by R.C. Dean.

    Still, Raimondo is a little nutty.

  8. R.C. Dean,

    How is it a struggle? Seems like a perfectly natural thing for him to do; here is a man in his twenties, who has a lot of power over a woman who he takes advantage of. Its an age-old story; the fact that he was a racist probably made the affair even more exciting.

  9. As a son of the South and a boomer who went through the 60’s sea change, I think I can speak to racial attitude transformation.

    Nigger Bob and his wife, Ruby, helped my mom and dad raise 7 kids in a dirt poor little town in the Mississippi delta. They were as part of our family (and as well loved) as anybody else. Nobody, including Bob and Ruby, ever knew his moniker was an insult. It just was. In fact, in an era when you literally got your mouth washed out by a God fearing mother for saying “heck”, that term was accepted as the only one to refer to the darker race.

    It was only later, during and after the late 60’s freedom riders, race riots, and MLK’s assassination – these events were closer to home than Vietnam – that I finally realized all the baggage the term “nigger” carried with it. I went to Bob and Ruby and asked forgiveness. They said that was alright, we just didn’t know any better.

  10. BTW, in the American South at least, there is a long “tradition” of either raping or otherwise taking for a mistress black women by white men. You’ll find the same is true in the Caribbean in 17th, 18th and 19th centuries when most of the colonial possessions there were dominated by slave-based production, or transcending out of such a labor-social relation.

  11. I’m probably the only one who cares at this point, but I posted earlier using the name “Public Servant.” I quoted Justin Raimondo out of context and then later made a qualified apology.

    I should not have qualified my apology and I should have apologized publicly.

    Brendan Huhn

  12. “Around the time of his death, Thurmond came in for all the testimonials that even loathsome characters (e.g, Nixon and, in the near future, Sen. Robert Byrd) get if they stick around long enough.”

    You want loathsome: how long will it be (if it hasn’t happened already) until some government place is named after the former and dead senator?

  13. Why is Byrd in the same category? He had some stupid, racist ideas as a young man, realized they were stupid, and renounced them while it was still a politically risky thing to do. Yeah, he’s a little too big on the pork, but that hardly rises to the level of fighting to prevent an entire race from voting.

  14. I’ve got to say it now just as I see it: Some of the people spouting off in here and some of them unfortunately quite frequently, act like total jackasses. You all must have been quite reasoned young people that later changed or, worse, you are just what you have always been: Challenged in the developmental department. That’s why you can’t see that people change. You don’t want to grant people their growth. Not to mention a lack of graciousness blaming people for mistakes they made when quite young and immature. To boot, you then eternally twist the meaning of their few ill-chosen words, although you know full well what they meant to express.
    How you can equate the mistakes of Mr. Byrd and Mr. Thurmond escapes me.
    Mr. Thurmond is dead and think what you wish of him, but de mortuis nil, nisi bene.
    Mr. Byrd is in his late eighties and has done a darn sight more good for the country than most of you ever will! Treat both men with the human respect you would like to be afforded!
    This includes you Mr.Gillespie.
    “Loathsome character”, for Heaven’s sakes. Have you no decency, Sir?

  15. You people suck so much that when people read your shit the say,”Goddanm you suck!”

  16. You suck so much that when people read your shit they say, “Goddamn you suck!”

  17. Young man, my ass. Makes it seem like he was a teenager. The guy was in his 20s when he left the Klan and in his late 20s was still writing stuff like:

    “I am a former kleagle of the Ku Klux Klan in Raleigh County and the adjoining counties of the state …. 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 of the Union. Will you please inform me as to the possibilities of rebuilding the Klan in the Realm of W. Va …. I hope that you will find it convenient to answer my letter in regards to future possibilities.” ? Robert Byrd in letter to Klan Imperial Wizard Samuel Green of Atlanta, April 8, 1946.

    And, “a little too big on pork”??? The difference between Byrd and Thurmond is that Byrd is considered an eloquent windbag and is still a Democrat.

  18. The reason for the loathesome comment on Byrd is clear: he’s against cloning, against drug legalization, and against the war. To top off the list of his crimes, Byrd believes in God. Obviously, he should be shot.

  19. martin,

    One doesn’t have to twist the words or actions of Strom Thurmond to know that he was a scumbag.

    As to Chilo’s advice, well, I speak ill of dead people like Stalin, Pol Pot, Woodrow Wilson, Bismark and various other rogues, butchers and generally nasty people who are dead all the time; why I should stop doing so – in the case of jackass Strom Thrumond or others – is beyond me.

    Antiquis temporibus, nati tibi similes in rupibus ventosissimis exponebantur ad necem.

  20. So, Martin, I take it that you don’t consider Strom a fucktard.

  21. Oh yeah, and he’s a (white) Southerner. Doubleplusungood.

  22. this whole thurmond thing is so typical. it’s like the preacher with the gay porn collection or the anti-drug radio host with the pill gobbling problem.

    does byrd’s being an assbackwards fucktard count for or against him in your book?

  23. Sure, Strom Thurmond impregnated a black girl and he was a racist. But in his defense, he ~raped~ the girl, so he was *not* a hypocrate.

  24. What I like about Byrd, apart from his defense of the Constitution against the Imperial Presidency, is that he is the remnant of an age when “fucktard” would NEVER be mistaken for rational discourse — or any sort of human discourse, for that matter. Go wash out your mouth with soap and learn to speak like a human being.

  25. One struggles to imagine a scenario in which a deeply racist 22 year old Strom Thurmond has consensual sex with the black family maid in the Deep South of the 1920’s.

  26. and, if you needed one more good human-rights reason, he filibustered (for 14 hours!) and then voted against the 1964 civil rights act. he opposed the nominations of thurgood marshall and clarence thomas to the supreme court — accusing thomas of “injecting racism” into his own nomination hearing, whatever the f*ck that’s supposed to mean.

    truthfully, the only –ONLY– reason byrd is given a free ride while thurmond was derided in recent years is because byrd remained affiliated with the democratic party in the aftermath of the civil rights movement — not out of principle, i submit, but (like zell miller) out of habit. i’m sure that byrd, given the chance, would have driven the democratic party right back to its racist southern-elite roots. fortunately, he never was granted that opportunity.

  27. (as is demonstrated by his dumb-ass “white nigger” remark, which was meant to argue against the idea that black people are uniquely bad).

    don’t look now, joe, but you’re defending it.

  28. defend that.

    If “marriage” means anything two people want it to mean, “anti-semitism” includes opposing the casual mowing down of the families of Palestinian suicide bombers, and “homophobia” is anything that pisses off a fag, then to what strict interpretation of the word “nigger” is Byrd bound? There isn’t anything to defend.

  29. Barry Goldwater opposed the Civil Rights Act, too. What a convenient time for you to discover that “states rights” is always a code for racism.

    And Lord knows, mark, YOU’VE never accused someone who cries “racism” when they encounter legitimate political opposition of inappropriately injecting race into an argument. Big Rainbow/Push supporter, I presume.

    Byrd explicitly, publically, repeatedly denounced racist thinking and admitted the error of his ways. He saw one party was devoted to civil rights, and one party was against it, and chose good over evil. Thurmond never publically denounced segregation, continued to maintain that he was right to do so, and became a Republican as soon as he realized that party was becoming more welcoming to racists than the Democrats. I think the public record speaks for itself here.

  30. i’m all against the unthinking politically correct culture, but let me see if i can summarize your argument, rst:

    1) interpretations of words can vary
    2) ergo, a former KKK member, now a senator, using “nigger” in a conversation diminishing the effects of racism in our society on national tv is perfectly ok

    did i get that right?

  31. Joe, you’re wasting your time arguing with Jonah Goldberg, er, uh, I mean, “mak nas”. One way to get rid of him, though: tell him that Reason magazine (before it fell into the hands of the Postrel/Gillespie neocons) argued against the 1964 Civil Rights Act on the grounds of (dare I say it/) the right to associate freely.

  32. Byrd explicitly, publically, repeatedly denounced racist thinking and admitted the error of his ways. He saw one party was devoted to civil rights, and one party was against it, and chose good over evil.

    i wish i could believe his motives, or any politican’s motives, were ever so pure and true. your faith is strong.

  33. Um, a white politician denouncing racism in West Virginia during the 60s and 70s is clearly not acting out of self-interest.

  34. There are countless examples (from the left and the right, from the public sector and the private/business sector) of individuals whose public persona differed radically from his/her private life.

    Strom Thurmond was a racist as a politician, but in his private life apparently had a thing for black women.

    In 2000, Al Gore extolled the virtues of public schools at every campaign rally with NEA members present, but sent his own daughter to private school.

    Rush Limbaugh speaks endlessly about the evils of drug use, but is himself a drug addict.

    Believe me, I could go on and on and on.

  35. hey now! that hurts… 😉

    all i mean to say is that byrd and thurmond (and helms and a number of other conservative soutehrn democrats of the pre-civil rights era) are equally repulsive on these grounds. thurmond too hired black staffers in the aftermath of the voting rights act in 1965 and voted for the MLK holiday in 1983 — but that’s not good enough, apparently, and he is denied the absolution that byrd is granted, though they were/are both fairly clearly racists? that simply holds no water with me without granting an ulterior prejudice against republicans and favoring democrats.

  36. “Strom Thurmond was a racist as a politician, but in his private life apparently had a thing for black women.”

    How is that contradictory? Maybe he geot off on the power trip of having sex with a woman whose social and economic status (his household help) make it impossible to say no. Maybe he got off on the naughtiness of consorting with a “nigra.” Hell, why do you think the household help in old Dixie had lighter skin than the field workers? Next thing, you’ll tell me that’s proof of slaveowners’ believe in racial equality.

  37. 1) interpretations of words can vary

    Of course. Words are symbols. Symbols are interpreted. Interpretations are by definition largely subjective.

    ergo, a former KKK member, now a senator, using “nigger” in a conversation diminishing the effects of racism in our society on national tv is perfectly ok

    Politically unwise perhaps. Inappropriate as any vulgarity would be when used by a senator on national tv. But there’s nothing inherently or objectively wrong with it. He made his definition clear. People might have been offended, but that’s life. If you don’t like him, don’t vote for him.

  38. Um, a white politician denouncing racism in West Virginia during the 60s and 70s is clearly not acting out of self-interest.

    was thurmond when he supported the appointment of an african-american as a southern federal judge in 1982? african-americans vote in large numbers in considerable numbers in the south, and politicians like byrd and thurmond changed to get re-elected. that does not equal absolution.

  39. “was thurmond when he supported the appointment of an african-american as a southern federal judge in 1982?”

    Um, yes, black voters were an important political force in South Carolina by the 1980s. They were not an important political force in West Virginia in the 1960s. So there you go.

  40. apparently had a thing for black women.

    Because he screwed a maid? Trim is trim, gentlemen. That he wanted to get his rocks off and his maid who happened to be black did the trick says nothing in either direction about his racial beliefs in policy.

  41. …or even in his personal beliefs. My point, it could be read either way.

    But nailing the help, espcecially black help in the South, doesn’t scream “racial equality.”

  42. I don’t like Robert Byrd.

    I don’t like Strom Thurmond.

    I’m in no mood to waste time trying to divine which of them is worse. I don’t know that Nick Gillespie was trying to say the two are equally bad (insert your own comparison here), just that both have few redeeming qualities and yet Byrd will be eulogized as a great man just like Thurmond was.

    And since the eulogizing will mostly be done by professional politicians and pundits, one has to wonder just who great they were.

    There, was that so hard?

  43. No. It screams, “I’m horny, the wife ain’t home, and Essie Mae’s bending over dining room table agin…”

  44. Um, yes, black voters were an important political force in South Carolina by the 1980s. They were not an important political force in West Virginia in the 1960s. So there you go.

    um, and you believe that because byrd saw it coming earlier, he should be forgiven? you aren’t that naive, surely.

    he opposed the war — great. so did i. does that mean in your book we both get a free pass on everything else?

  45. precisely, thoreau. thank you.

  46. I know little about Thurmond. I am inclined to believe he was mostly a racist fornicating fucktard, but in his three and a half centuries in office he must have done something worthy of commendation rather than condemnation. Maybe he told funny jokes?

  47. He produced the legislation directing the Army to create the Civil Affairs Division.

    “…saw it coming earlier.” Look, maybe you’re right, and the entire thing was a political ploy. But it was an awfully big risk he took at the time, in order to see a payoff two decades away.

  48. Well, I can see Jean Bart and Brendan, you are far too busy reveling in your own glory. Can’t be bothered to reflect a little bit. Like comparing Strom Thurmond to Stalin and Pol Pot is sensible. Or using juvenile language is a sign of eloquence. Suit yourselves.

    By the way, it’s ‘Bismarck’ with a ‘c’. But I take it you knew that and it’s just a typo.

  49. martin,

    When did I compare Strom Thurmond to Pol Pot or Stalin? In fact, my second statement deal with Chilo’s advice, which Martin qouted, and what I think of it.

  50. R.C. Dean,

    I see; consensual on her part. I misinterpreted your original statement. Though we disagree often, I was thinking as I originally understood your statement seemed rather dense to me. You’ve never struck me as especially dense. 🙂

  51. Jean Bart,
    The sentence I quoted “De mortuis nil, nisi bene”, does not mean one should only speak good of the dead or the Latin would read “bona”.
    It rather means one should only speak of the dead in a civil, not in an insulting manner as they can no longer defend themselves.

  52. My Latin leaves me. On second thought I think “bona” to be the wrong form. “Bonum” seems better. Does anyone know which is correct?

  53. .It rather means one should only speak of the dead in a civil, not in an insulting manner as they can no longer defend themselves.

    If they are in a position such that their life requires defense after they are dead, perhaps they should have behaved better in life.

  54. go bone yourself martin

  55. JB – I have no doubt that the 22 year old Strom thought nailing the help was a fine idea. I doubt the 16 year old maid was quite so enthusiastic. In my world “consensual” is a two-way street.

  56. Martin,

    I’m so hurt because my main goal when posting on a comment board is to be eloquent. Oh no, people don’t think I’m eloquent.

  57. out of all my youthful mistakes – including some i’m making at this very moment – i don’t ever remember conspiring to fuck with large portions of the population solely based on external characteristics like skin color or what sort of religion they were born into. those are the deeds of fucktards, and any human dignity they may deserve for their mere existence was burned off long ago with a cross or two.

    BTW, can i take personal responsibility for “fucktard” popping up all over hit and run? it fills my heart with joy!

  58. Just read a NY Times article and was disappointed that to see that while a lot of ink was given to Essie Mae’s opinion of Thurmond, none was given to her mother’s opinion of what transpired.

    One’s reputation has to be about Saddam Hussein low for rape not to tarnish it.

  59. One difference between Byrd and Strom:

    Byrd is said to carry a pocket edition of the Constitution all the time.

    I expect Strom probably had little interest in the Constitution, being more partial to pictures torn raggedly out of Swank or Hustler.

  60. The proper White House statement on the occasion of Thurmond’s death would have been:

    “His country is grateful for his service during World War Two. The end.”

  61. I feel bad about speaking ill of the dead. At my next opportunity, I am going to fertilize the grass over Strom Thurmond’s grave.

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