December 19, 2002
By Lois Erwin
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
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
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
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
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
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.