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The Republican Code-Talkers
December 19, 2002
By Lois Erwin

If Trent Lott's now almost inevitable departure as Senate Majority Leader is to have any real value to the Republican Party, it must be the first stage in releasing the present-day Republican Party leadership from the stranglehold of southern white bigots and segregationists. This must be just the first step, not the last.

If and when Mr. Lott goes he should take Attorney General John Ashcroft with him, as Mr. Ashcroft's views parallel Mr. Lott's when it comes to favoring Confederate president Jefferson Davis over United States President Abraham Lincoln. In addition, Mr. Ashcroft, along with Mr. Lott, has close ties to the segregationist and racist Council of Conservative Citizens, an organization that has praised the assassination of President Lincoln in the pages of its newsletter "Citizens Informer."

Next to go should be Oklahoma Senator Don Nickles whose voting record of resisting equality for blacks has matched Trent Lott's.

After that, if the Republicans truly wish to remain the Party of Abraham Lincoln, Congressman Tom DeLay should go. His views and voting patterns are, if anything, worse than Trent Lott's.

Vice president Dick Cheney might also come under some scrutiny. When the House of Representatives offered a resolution, in the 1970s, calling on the white supremacist South African government to release Nelson Mandela from prison, Congressman Cheney voted "NO"! And for what crime had the white South African government imprisoned Nelson Mandela? For thinking that the blacks of South Africa - a majority of that country's population - should have a "say" in their government. Some would consider that Cheney vote a vote for continued white supremacy in South Africa. Fortunately, saner heads prevailed in South Africa; Nelson Mandela was released after 27 years in prison, went on to lead his country away from the horror of Apartheid and, later, win a Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts.

The bigotry spotlight might also shine on George W. Bush who, after losing the New Hampshire primary election to John McCain, hastened to give a well-publicized speech at the infamous Bob Jones University - thereby, proving in coded signals his support for a value system that included the prohibition against inter-racial dating.

Up to and during the Civil War, "states rights" was code for protecting the right of some human beings to own other human beings - slavery.

Ever since the Civil War days, "states rights" has been code for racist laws and segregation. For 80 years, things remained as they had been in the south: blacks had no rights. Then, in 1948, President Harry Truman and Senator Hubert Humphrey championed the inclusion of a civil rights plank in the Democratic Party platform. That was too much for the southern racist, bigots and segregationists: they stormed out of the convention hall, created the States' Rights Party and ran Strom Thurmond as their presidential candidate. Thurmond's candidacy failed, but he carried four Deep-South states and won 39 Electoral votes.

For years, things remained as they were until, in 1964, President Lyndon Johnson passed civil rights legislation giving American rights to all citizens, including African-Americans. A year later, the Voting Rights Act proved to be too much for the old "Dixiecrats" and they left the Democratic Party to join the Republican Party, changing the face of that party from the Party of Abraham Lincoln to what it is today - a party led by white southerners whose hero is Jefferson Davis, Lincoln's opponent in the Civil War and a traitor in the minds of most northerners.

Increasingly over the last 35 years, Republican moderates have been side-lined, pushed out of leadership positions in the party and, finally, made irrelevant.

Until Trent Lott opened his mouth and ripped off - one more time - one of his stupid segregationist lines praising Strom Thurmond's run for the presidency on a "states rights" platform, understood by all to be a segregationist rallying cry, southerners had things pretty much their way in the Republican Party. The hoopla that followed Lott's remarks has revealed the dirty little secret of the Republican Code-Talkers, and, now, we all get it.

Well, ol' Trent, the Ole Miss cheerleader, will soon be gone from the Republican leadership post. The question before the Republican Party must be: Will Republicans in their desperate need to attract bigots,' racists' and segregationists' votes in order to win elections continue to campaign with coded messages? Or will they throw off their bigoted southern leaders and return to being the Party of Lincoln?

We'll have to watch and wait. Now that we know the code words, we'll be able to decipher their signals and messages too.

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