Lott should be left to lead reconciliation

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 17, 2002

I want to say this about my state: When Strom Thurmond ran for president, we voted for him. We’re proud of it. And if the rest of the country had followed our lead, we wouldn’t have had all these problems over all these years, either.

It doesn’t sound that bad to me. Sen. Trent Lott, R-Miss., simply told the audience at a birthday party for Sen. Strom Thurmond, R-S.C., that Thurmond would have made a good president.

What was said before and after this statement had nothing to do with segregation, prejudice nor what so many people are saying.

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Of course, it was said about Thurmond, and everyone knows (or does by now) that Thurmond was a segregationist. In 1948, the race Lott was referring to, Thurmond ran on the Segregationist ticket.

Therefore, &uot;all these problems over all these years&uot; must relate to problems that blacks have caused because they are evil people who should be segregated to their own little part of America. Right?

Come on. Even Lott, who has a history of sticking his foot in his mouth, would not make such a statement.

And too, are we not forgetting that Thurmond no longer stands for such issues? He has renounced his former stances, asked for forgiveness and dedicated the rest of his time in public service to making a better life for all Americans.

But never mind that. The people calling for Lott’s head on a platter must believe that a person cannot change their ways, that man cannot change his heart and that once a racist, always a racist.

Fine. But if that is how we are going to set our social policy in this incident, let us do it in all incidents. And that means we must take the strides of the 1960s and throw them out the window.

That means that the work of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who preached a peaceful solution to the civil rights struggle, who believed a man’s heart can change, was for nothing.

Speaking of reverends, let’s look my favorite one, the Rev. Jesse Jackson. It seems black leaders have forgiven him for fornication. It seems many people believe he can change his ways. And who is to say he cannot?

But who is he to say that Lott cannot? Who is anyone to say that Lott has not?

Remember, Lott went to the Republican Party from the Dixiecrats. He has spent 30 years building the party today that controls the White House, the Senate and the House of Representatives.

Lott’s past is one thing. So is Thurmond’s past. But they are the past. We are in a time when we must look to the future.

Lott says he is dedicated to helping promote minority causes and proving himself not to be a prejudiced bigot many are painting him as. Do you think Sen. Don Nickles, R-Okla., a probable replacement for Lott, would do what Lott has vowed he will? Don’t count on it. The NAACP has given Nickles the exact same score as Lott when it comes to civil rights voting.

It’s not about black and white, but about conservative and liberal. The NAACP pushes a liberal agenda. Period. And Lott and Nickles are conservatives. Period.

But Lott is in hot water, and Nickles is in the second chair.

One is fighting for his political life and one a political promotion.

Who do you think is going to reach out &045; the man who knows he must make amends or the man whose political ambition is to &uot;move on up?&uot;

Lott made a mistake, but he should be forgiven. And he should be left to lead the way he says he will.

Sam R. Hall is publisher of The Times-Post in Chickasaw County. He can be reached at (662) 456-3771 or by e-mail to sam.hall@timespost.com.