- Please send as far and wide as possible.
Editor, The Konformist
Brother Lott's real record
By Derrick Z. Jackson, 12/18/2002
IT IS IMPOSSIBLE to tell which sound is louder, the laughter of
millions of black folks or the millions of mint julep glasses dropped
to the ground by shocked conservatives who are screaming, ''Uncle
Trent! Shut up!''
Black folks are in stitches because Lott cannot unstitch his record.
The Republican Party wants to stitch up Lott's mouth. A stitch in
time nine years ago, when Lott was cavorting with offshoots of white
citizens councils, might have save the Republicans from this moment.
Finally, with Lott's wistful praise of Strom Thurmond's
segregationist presidential campaign of 1948 threatening to put a
white sheet over the entire party, Republicans are making moves to
drop Lott as majority leader of the Senate.
They are not moving fast enough to stop the painful from becoming
preposterous. In an interview on Black Entertainment Television, Lott
was asked by interviewer Ed Gordon, ''What about affirmative
Lott said, ''I'm for it. I think you should reach out to
people ... ''
Gordon interrupted, ''Across the board?''
Lott said, ''Absolutely, across the board. That's why I'm so proud of
my alma mater now, University of Mississippi, that obviously had a
difficult time in the '60s and '70s, now led by an outstanding
chancellor, Robert Khayat, that has gotten rid of the Confederate
flag. ... I am for affirmative action. And I practice it. ... I have
actually tried very hard to be an affirmative action participant.''
Lott has tried hard all right - to kill affirmative action and black
participation in just about anything that would have benefited black
folks from his college days to today. Just in case you actually began
to feel sorry for Lott as he wriggled to be a brother, here is a list
of Lott's votes and actions over the last four decades:
Early 1960s: Fought to keep his Sigma Nu fraternity all white not
only at the University of Mississippi but across the nation.
1975: Voted against extension of the Voting Rights Act.
1976: Voted to ban judges from awarding money to cover the costs of
attorneys to victorious plaintiffs in civil rights suits.
1979: Voted for a constitutional amendment to ban school busing.
1980: Praised Thurmond at a rally for presidential candidate Ronald
Reagan, saying that if Thurmond had been elected in 1948, ''we
wouldn't be in the mess we are in today.''
1980: Voted against federal administrative penalties for people or
firms that are guilty of discriminatory housing practices.
1981: Instrumental in President Reagan's attempt to give Bob Jones
University, which then banned interracial dating, tax exemptions.
1982: Voted again against extending the Voting Rights Act.
1983: Opposed Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, citing its cost
and ''the fact that we have not done it for a lot of other people
that were more deserving.'' In 1998, Lott said, ''Sometimes, I feel
closer to Jefferson Davis than any other man in America.''
1983: Supported an amendment proposed by Senator Jesse Helms to
preserve tax-exempt status for Bob Jones University, which then
banned interracial dating.
1984: Said ''The spirit of Jefferson Davis lives in the 1984
1988: Voted again against administrative penalties in housing
1989: Voted against $300,000 for the King federal holiday commission
to promote racial harmony.
1990: One of only four senators to vote against requiring the Justice
Department to categorize hate crimes by race.
1990: Voted against the restoration of affirmative action programs
struck down by the Supreme Court.
1992: Told the Council of Conservative Citizens, which has ties back
to the white citizens councils of segregation (known by African-
Americans as the ''downtown Klan''): ''The people in this room stand
for the right principles and the right philosophy. Let's take it in
the right direction and our children will be the beneficiaries.''
1993: Voted to extend to the Daughters of the Confederacy the design
patent for the Confederate flag.
1994: Voted to support an amendment by Helms to strip federal funding
from the King holiday.
1994: Voted against the use of racial statistics in death penalty
1995: Voted to end affirmative action in federal contracting.
1997: Voted against affirmative action in funding businesses for
people of color and women.
1998: Voted again to end affirmative action in federal contracting.
2000: Voted against expansion of hate crimes laws to include gay and
2001: Was the only senator in a 93-1 vote to oppose the appointment
of Roger Gregory, a black judge, to the US Court of Appeals for the
Fourth Circuit in Richmond, Va.
This record is important not just to pile on Lott. He is done for as
majority leader. The importance is in measuring it against who will
take his place. It is ironic that the first Republican senator who
said Lott should be replaced, Don Nickles of Oklahoma, has displayed
nearly the same reflexive opposition to civil rights, down to voting
against the King holiday, supporting Bob Jones, and voting to kill
Nickles said, ''I am concerned that Trent has been weakened to the
point that it may jeopardize his ability to enact our agenda.'' Lott
may be going, but his politics are hardly going with him. Lott may
now have reduced himself to a fool, but the conservatives, once they
mop up the puddle of mint juleps, will not be fooling around.
Derrick Z. Jackson's e-mail address is jackson@....
This story ran on page A23 of the Boston Globe on 12/18/2002.
GOP Berate of Lott Hypocritical
Wed Dec 18, 2002
WASHINGTON - Former President Clinton says Republicans are
hypocritical for berating Senate Republican leader Trent Lott about
his insensitive comments on race.
"How can they jump on him when they're out there repressing, trying
to run black voters away from the polls and running under the
Confederate flag in Georgia and South Carolina?" Clinton said
Wednesday in New York. "I mean, look at their whole record. He just
embarrassed them by saying in Washington what they do on the
backroads every day."
Lott has been trying to atone for publicly wishing that former
segregationist Sen. Strom Thurmond had been elected president in
1948. Lott said his home state of Mississippi voted for Thurmond "and
if the rest of the country had followed our lead, we wouldn't have
had all these problems over all these years either."
Lott has apologized, but many conservatives have called for him to
give up his leadership post. President Bush's aides have said Lott
doesn't have to resign, but the White House is not making the case
for keeping him in place either.
"I think that the way the Republicans have treated Senator Lott is
pretty hypocritical, since right now their policy is, in my view,
inimical to everything this country stands for," Clinton said while
attending an event for the European Travel Commission.
"They've tried to suppress black voting, they've ran on the
Confederate flag in Georgia and South Carolina. And from top to
bottom, the Republicans supported it. So I don't see what they're
jumping on Trent Lott about."
Republican National Committee Chairman Marc Racicot called Clinton's
comments "misleading" and "divisive rhetoric."
"This is another tired example of Bill Clinton misrepresenting the
facts and misleading the American people to gain political
advantage," Racicot said.
Lott stepping down as majority leader
Frist emerges as front-runner for leadership post
Dec 20, 2002
WASHINGTON (CNN) --Wounded by the controversy over his comments
criticized by many as racially divisive, Sen. Trent Lott announced
Friday he was stepping down as Republican leader in the Senate.
Sen. Bill Frist, R-Tennessee, emerged as the front-runner to replace
Lott, who had been under increasing pressure to step aside because of
the furor, which Republicans feared would distract from their
congressional agenda and undermine efforts to reach out to minority
"In the interest of pursuing the best possible agenda for the future
of our country, I will not seek to remain as majority leader of the
United States Senate for the 108th Congress, effective January 6,
2003," Lott, 61, said in a statement.
"To all those who offered me their friendship, support and prayers, I
will be eternally grateful. I will continue to serve the people of
Mississippi in the United States Senate," Lott said, indicating that
he would not resign his seat from the upper house of Congress.
Frist, 50, had announced his "likely" candidacy Thursday night, and
support for him grew quickly.
Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, one of the strongest allies of
Lott, Friday endorsed Frist for majority leader. That move by
McConnell, who had also been seen as a possible successor, makes it
all but certain that Frist will have the support he needs to win the
A physician from Tennessee who is a favorite of the White House,
Frist issued a statement late Thursday saying several senators had
approached him and asked him to seek the post.
Lott was elected majority leader in November, but his political
standing eroded in Washington because of the controversy surrounding
his praise of Strom Thurmond's 1948 segregationist campaign for the
The remarks -- suggesting the nation would have been better off had
Thurmond been elected -- drew a strong rebuke from, among others,
President Bush, who called them "offensive" and "wrong."
Lott, despite several apologies, never managed to contain the
criticism from Democrats and -- more importantly -- conservatives and
Republicans. His legislative record on civil rights was scrutinized
and past statements about Thurmond's 1948 candidacy were also
"I have concluded that the current controversy has completely
overshadowed our efforts to expand the American dream to all
Americans," Sen. Christopher Bond, R-Missouri, said in a statement
Friday, announcing his support for Frist.
Even before Lott's announcement, Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee
issued his own endorsement of Frist, as did John Warner of Virginia
and several others.
"If Bill Frist is a candidate for majority leader, I'm for him,"
Alexander said in a statement. "He's my neighbor, my friend, my
senior senator and one of our best national leaders." (Full story)
Warner: 'Bigger than friendship'
Warner, the veteran Virginia senator, has long been a friend of
Lott's. But he was among the first of the GOP's 51 senators to call
for a meeting of the party conference to consider whether to vote on
a new leader. The meeting is set for January 6.
The stakes are much "bigger than friendship," Warner said, and the
leadership battle is an issue "about what's best for the United
States of America" and how best the GOP can "preserve the credibility
of the United States Senate."
Before Lott's decision, only one GOP senator -- Sen. Lincoln Chafee
of Rhode Island -- had said publicly that Lott should step down.
Others, however, have been very critical of his comments, saying they
have opened the GOP to unfair charges of racial bigotry.
Several Republicans and conservatives said the controversy threatened
to undermine the Republican agenda -- and that of the White House --
in Congress next year. The furor took the glow off the Republicans'
election victories in November, when they regained control of the
Senate and built on their majority in the House.
Lott, who had apologized repeatedly for his comments, had picked up
the public support of about nine Republican senators, including such
senior figures as Alaska's Ted Stevens and Utah's Orrin Hatch. But
most GOP senators kept quiet about the matter.
The White House stayed on the sidelines, refusing to publicly endorse
the idea of replacing Lott -- or offering him much support. Warner
denied the White House had been involved in persuading Frist to run
or that he had been in contact with the White House over the issue.
"The White House will work with whoever it is that members of
Congress deem appropriate to represent themselves," White House press
secretary Ari Fleischer said Thursday.
Former President Clinton lashed out at the GOP Wednesday, saying it
was "pretty hypocritical" of Republicans to criticize Lott for
stating publicly what he said the GOP does "on the back roads every
CNN Correspondent Jonathan Karl contributed to this report.