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    A SORRY LOTT

    December 21st, 2002

    Prior to resigning his post as Senate Republican Leader, as part of his Nationwide Contrition Tour, Senator Trent Lott sat for an imaginary interview with SEMITRUE NEWS…

    SEMI: Welcome Senator, thank you for talking with us.

    LOTT: I’m sorry.

    SEMI: I said, thank you for talking with us.

    LOTT: I know, I’m just saying I’m sorry.

    SEMI: …Let’s cut to the chase. In 1948, Strom Thurmond ran for President on a pro-segregationist platform. As everybody in the entire world now knows, at a celebration honoring the senator, you mentioned that your home state of Mississippi was one of four southern states that voted for Thurmond and added “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 the years.”

    LOTT: I did say that, and I apologize for it.

    SEMI: Many people have interpreted that statement to mean that you feel we’d all be better off if those uppity black folk hadn’t insisted on being able to sit in the front of the bus, drink out of the same water fountains, and become Secretary of State.

    LOTT: I know, and I apologize for that. But I wasn’t referring to those racial and discarded policies of the past. I was referring to other social and economic discarded policies of the past.

    SEMI: During his 1948 campaign as a “Dixiecrat”, Thurmond charmed us with original Southern homilies such as “All the laws of Washington and all the bayonets of the Army cannot force the Negroes into our homes, our schools, our churches”. Do you mean to tell us now that you weren’t thinking of any of that when you said that we’d all be better off if he had been elected President?

    LOTT: That was an unfortunate statement, but Senator Thurmond ran on a broader platform of states rights, individual liberty, fiscal responsibility, a strong national defense and a balanced budget

    SEMI: And you just forgot about all that Jim Crow stuff.

    LOTT: Well I was very young at the time, maybe seven or eight years old, and I’ve apologized for that.

    SEMI: Many of your supporters have tried to dismiss the comments made a few weeks ago as simply a poor choice of words, until it was revealed that in 1980, at a rally in Jackson, Mississippi, you mounted the stage right after Thurmond spoke and said essentially the same thing: if the country had elected Thurmond to the presidency “30 years ago, we wouldn’t be in the mess we are today.”

    LOTT: Yes, but I was very young at the time, maybe 39 or 40 years old, and I’ve apologized for that.

    SEMI: Again, some of your supporters are dismissing these questions as pure political opportunism, but what many people find disturbing is that a man in your position, who says such things that he later attempts to shrug off as merely being “insensitive”, shows through his voting record that he has never been a supporter of civil rights.

    LOTT: I apologize for my voting record.

    SEMI: You voted against establishing Martin Luther King Day as a federal holiday…

    LOTT: I apologize for that.

    SEMI: You voted against extending the Voting Rights Act…

    LOTT: I apologize for that too.

    SEMI: While a Congressman in the late 70’s, you supported a constitutional amendment to prohibit school busing.

    LOTT: Oh yeah, big apologies for that one.

    SEMI: You filed a friend-of-the-court brief with the Supreme Court to support a tax exemption for Bob Jones University, a segregationist institution with rules discriminating against minorities and prohibiting interracial dating, arguing that “racial discrimination does not always violate public policy” and implying that such policies could be protected under the First Amendment.

    LOTT: Phew, yeah boy, really insensitive on that one. Just a big heap of apologies for that.

    SEMI: You were one of only four senators that voted against a bill requiring the Justice Department to compile hate-crime statistics based on attacks motivated by prejudice and race.

    LOTT: I don’t know what I was thinking. Definitely discarded policies of the past. I apologize for that.

    SEMI: In 1995, Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) hoped to use his influence to press the FBI to provide documents related to the 1966 murder of civil rights activist Vernon Dahmer to a local prosecutor who was seeking to reopen the case. The original 1968 jury had not been able to reach a verdict against the only suspect, a former Imperial Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan in Mississippi, and he had been free for nearly 30 years. You publicly rebuked Thompson, who is black, and told reporters: “Bennie Thompson would do well to tend to his job in Washington . . .”

    LOTT: Did I say that? Geez, I must have been having a bad day. I apologize.

    SEMI: Your critics point to decisions that you have made both as an elected representative and as a private citizen to discern a personal pattern of racial bigotry and discrimination. For example, as President of the intra-fraternity council at “Ole Miss” when you were a college student in the early 1960’s, according to Time magazine, you helped lead a successful battle to prevent your college fraternity from admitting blacks to any of its chapters.

    LOTT: I did do that, and I have since seen the error of my ways. And I apologize for that.

    SEMI: One more example. For many years, you have been associated with a group called the Conservative Citizen’ s Council (or CCC,  not to be confused with the similar-sounding KKK) a self-described advocacy group for “white European-Americans”  that opposes “schemes by leftwing militants to rob white Americans of their rights and heritage”. In 1992, you concluded your keynote speech at the Council’s national board meeting by gushing that “the people in this room stand for the right principles and the right philosophy.” You have hosted private meeting with Council leaders, attended CCC banquets in your honor, and for eight years wrote a regular column for their magazine, Citizen’s Informer. Yet when publicly confronted with the openly racist views of this group and your association with them, you claimed that you had “no firsthand knowledge” of the CCC. Can you explain that?

    LOTT: No, I don’t think anyone benefits from my trying to explain things. Right now, my focus is on apologizing.

    SEMI: Allow me then to give you some “firsthand knowledge” of the CCC. An editorial on their website proposes a U.S. Government-sponsored program to send African-American prison inmates “back” to Africa, and the “repatriation” of such prominent black intellectuals as Cornell West, Maya Angelou, and Toni Morrison. Are these the kind of “problems” you think a Thurmond presidency might have solved? Do you think Cornell West should be sent to Africa?

    LOTT: Well, I have never met Cornell West so I don’t really have an opinion, and I apologize for that.

    SEMI: Senator Lott, do you personally know any actual black people?

    LOTT: J.C. Watts of Oklahoma is a good friend of mine, he’s a fellow Republican, I respect him as a Senator, and I am barely frightened of him at all. And of course, I have hired many Negro-Americans on my staff. You know, on a Friday night, after a long week of work, there’s nothing I like more than relaxing with some of my home boys, maybe knock back a few pint-sized malt liquors, and reflect on how difficult it is to be in the minority.

    SEMI: You know what that’s like to be a minority?

    LOTT: Absolutely! I just spent two years as Minority Leader in the Senate, so I have a deep appreciation for what it’s like to be oppressed by The Man.

    SEMI: “The Man”, in this case, being…?

    LOTT: Senator Jim Jeffords of Vermont.

    SEMI: Thank you, Mr. Lott. I think all of my readers now have a better understanding of how you think.

    LOTT: I certainly hope so, and I apologize.


    Volume I, Issue IV

    December 8th, 2002

    YESTERDAY’S NEWS

    Ethnic Kurds flee Iraq! ~ Bombs rain down on Baghdad! ~ Saddam Hussein threaten retaliations against U.S.! ~ President Bush promises tax cut! ~ Hannibal Lecter Eating up the Box Office!…

    Has anyone else noticed that it’s 1991?


    AN ACT OF FAITH

    There was a remarkable front page article in the Washington Post this last Sunday:

    ·A Daughter’s Dream Lives at Scene of Her Death·
    by Jon Jeter; February 18, 2001; Page A01

    (Post articles are available for free for two weeks following publication).

    Eight years ago, a 26 year old white American girl named Amy Biehl was killed by black South African protesters during the civil unrest that precipitated the fall of Apartheid. Now her parents have journeyed to the very village where she was slain and are working in the community to improve the living conditions of those who still live there. When the four young men who were convicted of killing Amy appeared before South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission four years ago, Peter Biehl publicly supported their plea for amnesty. As the parents see it, they are honoring their daughter’s life by carrying on her work.

    It is an moving tale of redemption, transformation, and forgiveness. Were I in the same situation, I cannot say with certainty that I would comport myself with such civility.

    I am also sickened with the irony of contemplating the likely outcome of such an event in this country. If four black men chased down a white girl here and kicked and stoned and stabbed her to death in a barbaric fit of political outrage, would we even care if her parents supported amnesty for the killers?

    I am not going to defend the acts of killers; it is a complex political situation that I cannot even hope to fathom from the comfort of my own privileged life.

    Instead, I simply want to posit this: if ordinary people thrust into excruciating circumstances can react with such extraordinary charity and humanity, why should we not ask the same of our nation’s leaders?

    I was thinking of this as I listened to “President” Bush huffing and puffing at Saddam Hussein last week after ordering missile strikes against Baghdad . Critics contend that he wants to “finish the job” that his father started ten years ago, though few world leaders view Iraq to be a serious world threat anymore. A decade of deprivation in the wake of economic sanctions continue to punish Iraq’s already disenfranchised population and remain a pathetic substitute for sound policy. So here is my proposition for the new President”, a unique and, as far as I know, heretofore unspoken proposal for dealing with Saddam Hussein.

    Forgive him.

    Yep, call a press conference and publicly pronounce: “Saddam, I forgive you!”. This will fit right in with your new policy of Christian charity and will demonstrate to the country that you are so secure in your masculinity that you do not need to demonstrate it by raining missiles down on occupied cities in Islamic nations. As the son of the President who successfully organized the coalition to push the Iraqi army back over its own border, you are in a unique situation to close that circle with dignity and compassion (remember compassion?). You should immediately urge the U.N. to lift the economic sanctions and start rolling out trucks of food and clothing for impoverished Iraqis. The world will applaud you for your boldness and the Iraqi people, once fed, may remember who is their actual enemy. Also, we might be get some good deals on cheap oil.

    Oh. Right. I forgot … you and Dick Cheney would rather drill for oil domestically.

    Hmm… you don’t have any vested financial interest in the domestic cigar industry, do you? Maybe you could give Fidel Castro a call.


    WORLD WIDE WEB WORDS

    This week’s words all have to do with public ignominy…

    ex·co·ri·ate:
    to tear or wear off the skin of; abrade. To censure strongly; denounce.

    op·pro·bri·um:
    disgrace arising from exceedingly shameful conduct

    au·to-da-fé: public announcement of the sentences imposed on persons tried by the Inquisition and the public execution of those sentences by the secular authorities.

    de·fen·es·tra·tion:
    the act of throwing someone or something out of a window.

    I particularly like defenestration. I first came across the word a few years ago in a European text and asked a friend of mine who was a history major what it meant. Apparently, defenestration was a fashionable form of political assassination in medieval eastern Europe. According to a report on the Radio Prague website:

    “One of the most bizarre and typically Czech ways of dealing with opposition was the so called defenestration. The first one, which took place in 1419 in Prague, set off the Hussite revolution, while the most famous defenestration, which took place in May 1618, led to the uprising of the Czech Estates and marked the beginning of the Thirty Year War in Europe. In the 17th century, defenestrations were considered as a kind of Czech national custom…”

    In contemporary jargon, Defenstration has become a popular term to refer to the act of removing Microsoft Windows © from a PC in favor of another operating system. I like that, too!


    SEMI SITES

    To read more about the art of joyfully hurling political leaders out of windows, see the full text of the Radio Prague report at http://www.radio.cz/english/archive/3-6-98.html.

    To learn more about the inspiring life of Amy Biehl, see The Amy Biehl Foundation website at http://www.amybiehl.org/

    The South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) website can be found at http://www.truth.org.za/.


    WRITERS ON WRITING

    People want to know why I do this; why I write such gross stuff. I like to tell them I have the heart of a small boy … and I keep it in a jar on my desk.Stephen King


    All Contents (except the stuff I stole) Copyright © 2001
    S.M.McCord.

    Redistribution allowed, provided you cite http://www.semitrue.com.