All the media gushing about U.S. Sen. Strom Thurmond reaching the ripe old age of 100 last week was nauseating.
There are a lot of folks who live these days to be 100, and practically every one of them has done something in life for the betterment of humankind. Wish I could say the same for Thurmond.
Strom Thurmond has represented everything that is wrong about America during his way-too-long tenure in Congress. If the people of South Carolina had any concern for the rest of the people in this country, they would have kicked him out of office years ago.
Yet this racist has been returned to Washington election after election, and now, because he's set a record as the oldest living U.S. senator, people are fawning over him as though he were some American hero.
"He is not only a great man, he's done great things in his life," the normally snarling Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, gushed.
"He's a man of iron with a heart of gold," chirped Sen. Joe Lieberman, D-Conn.
"He's not just a witness to the entire 20th century, he was a full participant," added Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn.
Give us all a break.
As the NAACP's board chairman Julian Bond said in a column last week:
"The 'great things' from the 'heart of gold' don't include any landmark legislation authored by (Thurmond). Nor did it include ensuring all Americans were 'full participants.' Instead, Thurmond's sole legacy is durability and opposition to civil rights."
This was the guy who walked out of the 1948 Democratic convention because the Dems had the audacity to demand equal rights for black people. He then ran for president himself, pledging that "no Ne-gir-ahs" would ever swim in the same pools as whites, or drink from the same fountains or eat in the same restaurants.
"When Thurmond was born, black South Carolinians could not vote, go to school with whites or work at jobs reserved for whites," Bond pointed out. "Thurmond has spent his life trying to maintain the status quo of 100 years ago."
Not to mention that the centenarian's last vote was to confirm a man vehemently opposed by civil rights groups to a federal appeals court judgeship.
Isay amen to this rejoinder by Bond:
"He is a relic of America's shameful past who had long overstayed his welcome. And shame to his colleagues who confuse simple longevity with an illustrious legacy.
Copyright 2002 The Capital Times