On Thursday Hillary Clinton gave a speech denouncing Trump for his ties to the “Alt-Right”, a movement that has its roots in white supremacy. Trump also has the support of KKK member David Duke, as well as many white nationalist groups. Trump has refused to disavow these endorsements.
So, what do the conservatives do? They attempt to destroy Hillary Clinton because of an video Clinton made after the death of Senator Robert Byrd, calling him a “friend and mentor”.
Now, Robert Byrd has a VERY racist past. Byrd was a member of the Ku Klux Klan in the 1940’s and helped establish the hate group’s chapter in Sophia, West Virginia. However, in 1952 Byrd avowed that “After about a year, I became disinterested [in the KKK], quit paying my dues, and dropped my membership in the organization,” and throughout his long political career (he served for 57 years in the United States Congress) he repeatedly apologized for his involvement with the KKK
Byrd said, “I know now I was wrong. Intolerance had no place in America. I apologized a thousand times … and I don’t mind apologizing over and over again. I can’t erase what happened.”
In his memoir, Byrd wrote, “It has emerged throughout my life to haunt and embarrass me and has taught me in a very graphic way what one major mistake can do to one’s life, career, and reputation.”
After Byrd’s death in 2010, the NAACP released a statement about the Senator’s passing, saying:
The NAACP is saddened by the passing of United States Senator Robert Byrd. Byrd, the longest serving member of congress was first elected to the U.S. House from [West Virginia] in 1952 and was elected Senator in 1958. Byrd passed away this morning at the age of 92.
“Senator Byrd reflects the transformative power of this nation,” stated NAACP President and CEO Benjamin Todd Jealous. “Senator Byrd went from being an active member of the KKK to a being a stalwart supporter of the Civil Rights Act, the Voting Rights Act and many other pieces of seminal legislation that advanced the civil rights and liberties of our country.
“Senator Byrd came to consistently support the NAACP civil rights agenda, doing well on the NAACP Annual Civil Rights Report Card. He stood with us on many issues of crucial importance to our members from the reauthorization of the Voting Rights Act, the historic health care legislation of 2010 and his support for the Hate Crimes Prevention legislation,” stated Hilary O. Shelton, Director of the NAACP Washington Bureau and Senior Vice President for Advocacy and Policy. “Senator Byrd was a master of the Senate Rules, and helped strategize passage of legislation that helped millions of Americans. He will be sorely missed.”
So yes, Senator Byrd once did a horrible thing. And then he changed, and realized the error of his ways. He disavowed racism in every form and became a champion. That should be celebrated.
Remember, Trump is courted by current-day white supremacists. Byrd, to whom the NAACP gave a 100-percent rating at the time of his death, renounced his youthful racism decades ago. But as Byrd himself once rightly pointed out about his racist past, “One cannot erase what he has done. He can only change his ways and his thoughts.”
Sorry, Trump — you and your white supremacist supporters have hardly changed your ways or your thoughts. In fact, they dictate your behavior right here and right now.