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Passions in Poetry

A "Lott" of Trouble

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Moonlight Romeo
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0 posted 12-17-2002 01:23 PM       View Profile for Moonlight Romeo   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Moonlight Romeo

This will no doubt raise some eyebrows, but perhaps that is a good thing.  Thank you.

Welcome to America, land of the free and home of the ultra-sensitive.  Where even the most benign of comments can label you a segregationist, or, even worse, a human being.

Senator Trent Lott (R-Mississippi) found this out the hard way when, at a birthday party for Strom Thurmond, he said the following:
“Lott said Mississippians were proud to have voted for Thurmond as president in 1948.   He said if the rest of the country had followed suit, ‘We wouldn't have had all these problems over all these years.’ ’’ (From MSNBC)

Now, for those of you that do not remember the presidential election of 1948, let me bring you up to speed by telling you that Strom Thurmond ran in that election.  His platform was one that featured segregation as one of its major points.  Thurmond, back then, was one of the major leaders of the so-called “Dixiecrat” movement..

One assumes that when Trent Lott said “we wouldn’t have had all these problems” he meant that we wouldn’t have had all of these problems because African-Americans would have been in their place.  That is what he meant, isn’t it?  What?  You mean that you do not see how he said that?  It is right there, in black and white (or, in this case, blue).  “We wouldn’t have had all these problems over all these years.”  It is obvious that he is talking about African-Americans.  Anyone can see it, why can’t you?

So, now that he has said these things about African-Americans and labeled himself a supporter of segregation, Trent Lott is in trouble.  He has been scolded by the media and the press, and said his mea culpa at least three times now.  Members of his own party, even President Bush, are calling for him to step down as incoming Senate Majority Leader.  He has been on BET saying that he “now understands the pain that he’s caused”, just like a good boy who’s been scolded by his political parents should.

But, wait just a moment.  Let us take a look at another side of this story and these comments.  Forgive me for daring to think for myself, but what did Trent Lott say?  He said that: “Mississippians were proud to have voted for Thurmond as president in 1948.   He said if the rest of the country had followed suit, ‘We wouldn't have had all these problems over all these years’ ”

Now, please forgive me again if I am wrong, but where exactly did Trent Lott say that he is a supporter of segregation?  Where did he say that he was a racist?  Where did he say that he was someone who believed in these things?  He did not my friends.  He merely gave a gracious gesture to an old man and a friend.  But, here in the land of the free and the home of the ultra-sensitive, where anyone with a microphone in front of them is an open target, it is not the words that you say, but the words that they think you say, that matter.



What light through yon window breaks?  It is the east, and Juliet is the sun.

[This message has been edited by Moonlight Romeo (12-17-2002 01:24 PM).]

Opeth
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1 posted 12-17-2002 01:29 PM       View Profile for Opeth   Email Opeth   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Opeth

The bottom line is this, he shouldn't have ever made those comments, even if they were taken out of context. It is called stepping on one's own [edited by Moderator].

And he shouldn't have made those comments. Why? Because the GOP needs to reach out to minorities, and what he stated is not how to do it.

This doesn't mean that Clinton or others are not guilty of performing something similiar (Clinton has done so), but when your political party is already on the "hotseat" because of the race issue, the Senate Majority leader cannot put his foot in his mouth, and he did.

[This message has been edited by Sunshine (12-17-2002 01:40 PM).]

Christopher
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2 posted 12-17-2002 03:18 PM       View Profile for Christopher   Email Christopher   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Christopher

while it may not necessarily be "right," public figures (especially political candidates or officeholders) have to (or should) weigh the consequences of their words much heavier than the "average joe." if you or i make a comment like that, it affects a few people. if someone in the spotlight says something like that, it affects a nation.
Brad
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3 posted 12-17-2002 06:56 PM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

quote:
But, here in the land of the free and the home of the ultra-sensitive, where anyone with a microphone in front of them is an open target, it is not the words that you say, but the words that they think you say, that matter.


Uh huh, so is it what you think he said, or what others thought he said?

Would we have been better off with Strom instead of Harry and Dwight?

Your saying he meant nothing at all.
Cpat Hair
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4 posted 12-17-2002 07:14 PM       View Profile for Cpat Hair   Email Cpat Hair   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Cpat Hair

quote:
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
But, here in the land of the free and the home of the ultra-sensitive, where anyone with a microphone in front of them is an open target, it is not the words that you say, but the words that they think you say, that matter.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

you know..this is true for everyone... it is not what you say but what people think you said....it is not what you meant but what you were understood to mean..

It is called communication...and the speaker is responsible for conveying the idea to the listener. One should always choose the words they use carefully..or risk people not understanding what was meant to be conveyed.
If all this is true, ( shich I happen to believe it is) then the speaker is also responsible for the misunderstanding (if there is one) and the consequences of such misunderstandings.

NOw what he meant by his statement or what is read into his statement is his responsibility. Obviously, ( at least to me) anyone that is in public office is subject to much more scrutiny than the normal joe off the street or any chest beating opinionate that finds a forum to speak in. That in my opinion is as it should be. If these people are going to step up and represent the people in their Districts or States, then the people have a right to know what their elected officials are saying and to ask what was meant by it if they do not like what it might imply or infer.

Seems like...it is ok to question as long as the questions asked don't question your beliefs....  hmmmm... where is the logic in that sort of behavior?
Local Rebel
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5 posted 12-17-2002 08:50 PM       View Profile for Local Rebel   Email Local Rebel   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Local Rebel

While it's always fashionable to bash the media for reporting the news -- and to complain about partisan politicing -- ignore what the Dems and the press are doing and watch as the Republican sharks are circling the wounded Mr. Lott --it is they, and only they, that actually have any power to DO anything -- and it appears the Bush admin wants him gone.
Brad
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6 posted 12-17-2002 08:58 PM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

Good point.
Alicat
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7 posted 12-18-2002 11:11 AM       View Profile for Alicat   Email Alicat   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Alicat

Also is the point that elected representatives, at least in general theory, represent and speak for their home constituency. So when Mr. Lott was making these statements at Thurman's party, was he speaking for his home area, espousing the commonly held views of his state?

Those who are elected carry a greater resonsibility which they agree to carry. Actions and words have consequences, which beg out for responsibility. Saying 'I'm sorry', no matter how many times, does not erase the spoken word or acted deed.

Alicat
The Lonely Stranger
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8 posted 12-22-2002 08:03 AM       View Profile for The Lonely Stranger   Email The Lonely Stranger   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for The Lonely Stranger

To be honest, I don't see what all the fuss was about. It is my understanding that Mr. Lott was responsible for representing the ideals of the GOP. It has been my belief all along that Mr. Lott did just that. So wasn't he simply doing his job ??

... and they sent him home happy ... one hundred percent.

Denise
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9 posted 12-22-2002 07:37 PM       View Profile for Denise   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Denise

No, Mr. Lott wasn't representing the Republican Party or the view of the Republican Party when he made those personal remarks at a private birthday party, Lonely Stranger. He was expressing his own sentiments. For that reason, I think it was all blown out of proportion, considering it wasn't even clear what he was referring to by his remarks. Strom Thurmond did have segregation as a part of his platform when he ran for the office of President, but he had other issues as well. Lott could have been referring to one or more of those other campaign issues of the time. Who knows? Or he could have just been trying to make a 100 year old guy feel good by telling him the country would be a better place today if he had won? But, no matter what he meant, the sharks have circled and moved in for the kill, as they always do, Republican or Democrat, no matter the issue at hand. Politics is a dirty business, and the bottom line for most politicians is the advancement of their own personal power base, Republican or Democrat. I think our country would be better off if more people thought for themselves and weren't locked into a partisan mentality.    
The Lonely Stranger
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10 posted 12-22-2002 08:04 PM       View Profile for The Lonely Stranger   Email The Lonely Stranger   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for The Lonely Stranger

I beg to differ. When one examines his voting record, some of his prior affiliations, what was said and the context in which it was said. Mr Lott's meaning was crystal clear. I understand that some people would do or say anything to have hime exhonerated because they share his beliefs (one set or another)

Secondly, when you are the majority leader, you are in public life. What you say or do will come under close scrutiny ... it's part of the deal. I believe that such a speech was given on this very board regardin Bill Clinton. Under these circumstances .... when he opens his mouth ..... he speaks for the entiretiy of the GOP.

... There is no normal life Wyatt, just life ... so live!

Ron
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11 posted 12-22-2002 08:05 PM       View Profile for Ron   Email Ron   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Ron's Home Page   View IP for Ron

The only obvious mistake Thurmond made was living so long that his earlier ideals became antiquated. Just imagine how much trouble Lott would have caused had he said something nice about Washington or Jefferson?
Brad
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12 posted 12-22-2002 08:35 PM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

Just thought I'd muddy things up a bit more:
http://hnn.us/articles/1173.html#Byrd12-19-02

Ah yes, when the world was simple.
Denise
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13 posted 12-22-2002 10:18 PM       View Profile for Denise   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Denise

Lonely Stranger,

Yes, those in public life are under intense scrutiny, and should be very careful what they say, I agree. They have to examine everything from every possible angle, making sure that they do not say something, misconstrued or otherwise, that could upset one special interest group or another. Still, I don't see that a person, Republican, Democrat or Independent, is speaking for their respective parties whenever and wherever they speak. To say that they do is assuming quite a bit about quite a large group of people, I would think. That's quite a broad brush to be stroking.

Yes, some people would do or say anything to exonorate him because they hold similar persuasions politically. The same could be said of people who hold similar political persuasions as Bill Clinton, or any other politician. My blood still curdles when I hear people justifying Clinton's lying under oath, because, afterall, it was "just sex", and nobody else's business (intimating that it was okay for him to lie under oath under those circumstances). And yet I was equally irriated at the circling Republican sharks at that time as I am at the circling Democratic sharks this time. Some people speak out because they see the partisan absurdity of it all, and not because they share the political views or conduct of the person in the headlines.

Dealing with living in a fish bowl as they do is probably the only thing many of them do that even comes close to justifying their salaries, not to mention that fabulous pension plan that they pay absolutely nothing into (we pay ours and theirs out of our measley paychecks...aren't we generous?) Now, give me a politician who would address that issue and rectify it, and they'd have my vote...and my respect, no matter their party affiliation.

Ron and Brad,

I think the best thing that could happen in America is the bringing back of history as a subject in our schools.

  
The Lonely Stranger
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14 posted 12-23-2002 01:16 PM       View Profile for The Lonely Stranger   Email The Lonely Stranger   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for The Lonely Stranger

Ron said:

[The only obvious mistake Thurmond made was living so long that his earlier ideals became antiquated. Just imagine how much trouble Lott would have caused had he said something nice about Washington or Jefferson?]

Now let me be CERTAIN that I understand that I understand what you are saying before I respond. I would not want to have anyone say I bastardized your words.

Am I to understand that you do not believe that Thurmmond's championing of the cause of segregation was an obvious mistake?

... There is no normal life Wyatt, just life ... so live!

Opeth
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15 posted 12-23-2002 01:28 PM       View Profile for Opeth   Email Opeth   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Opeth

There is no comparsion between what Clinton did and what Lott said.

The Democrats couldn't wait to "jump" on this indident in order to continue their political strategy: dividng this country along various lines, especially racial.

Ron
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16 posted 12-23-2002 03:02 PM       View Profile for Ron   Email Ron   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Ron's Home Page   View IP for Ron

quote:
Am I to understand that you do not believe that Thurmmond's championing of the cause of segregation was an obvious mistake?

Had it been an obvious mistake in 1948 there wouldn't have been so many people convinced it was the answer to pursue. Hindsight is twenty-twenty.
The Lonely Stranger
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17 posted 12-24-2002 11:44 AM       View Profile for The Lonely Stranger   Email The Lonely Stranger   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for The Lonely Stranger

[Had it been an obvious mistake in 1948 there wouldn't have been so many people convinced it was the answer to pursue. Hindsight is twenty-twenty.]

I will not go into the millions of Germans who were convinced that the Holacost was the answer in order to topple that attempt at logic. I will simply as YOU RON if YOU believe that Championing segregation is a bad thing. I am asking YOU RON, in front of everyone ... if YOUR belief system says that segregation is wrong. Please answer my question.
Ron
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18 posted 12-24-2002 01:29 PM       View Profile for Ron   Email Ron   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Ron's Home Page   View IP for Ron

But if you're seeking an understanding of Thurmond, you're asking the wrong questions. What you or I believe today isn't relative to that particular understanding. Ask yourself, instead, whether YOU believed in segregation in 1948? Did you believe those flashes in the night sky were related to electricity in 1750? Did you believe the world was round circa 1450?

Shoot, did you buy a ton of Microsoft stock in 1980?

You cannot judge the morality of a person's conclusions except in the context of history. (Which is not the same thing as saying you can't judge their actions. Playing your Hitler card trumps nothing in this game. It's apples and oranges.) Was Thurmond an upright guy in 1948? His support of what was then a very common belief doesn't answer that question.

Not incidentally (and since I'm really not trying to evade your question), there's a reason we don't have forums for haiku and sonnets and free verse, or for love and humor poetry. Stumbling across something you haven't previously seen or valued is the most common path to new appreciations and a very large part of the success of our Open Poetry forum. Serendipity is how we learn new things. And, yea, that's as true for people as it is for poetry. Segregation maintains the status quo and is anathema to learning.

Your tone implies a moral outrage and makes me wonder why YOU think segregation is wrong?
The Lonely Stranger
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19 posted 12-24-2002 01:48 PM       View Profile for The Lonely Stranger   Email The Lonely Stranger   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for The Lonely Stranger

Ron writes:

--------------------------------------------
But if you're seeking an understanding of Thurmond, you're asking the wrong questions. What you or I believe today isn't relative to that particular understanding. Ask yourself, instead, whether YOU believed in segregation in 1948? Did you believe those flashes in the night sky were related to electricity in 1750? Did you believe the world was round circa 1450?

Shoot, did you buy a ton of Microsoft stock in 1980?

You cannot judge the morality of a person's conclusions except in the context of history. (Which is not the same thing as saying you can't judge their actions. Playing your Hitler card trumps nothing in this game. It's apples and oranges.) Was Thurmond an upright guy in 1948? His support of what was then a very common belief doesn't answer that question.

Not incidentally (and since I'm really not trying to evade your question), there's a reason we don't have forums for haiku and sonnets and free verse, or for love and humor poetry. Stumbling across something you haven't previously seen or valued is the most common path to new appreciations and a very large part of the success of our Open Poetry forum. Serendipity is how we learn new things. And, yea, that's as true for people as it is for poetry. Segregation maintains the status quo and is anathema to learning.

Your tone implies a moral outrage and makes me wonder why YOU think segregation is wrong?
---------------------------------------------

Sir, I do not seek an understanding of Strom Thurmond. I have a full understanding of Mr. Thurmond and his beliefs.

Do not try to muddy the waters with questions of time or era. The question before the court is a simple one that requires but a simple answer (Yes or No)

Do YOU sir ... HERE and NOW ... believe that championing the cause of segregation is morally right ???

It was YOU sir who said that nothing that so many people supported could be OBVIOUSLY wrong. I simply carried this statement to Berlin Circa 1930-something. So many people supported extermination of a mass of people based on beliefs or heritage. Does this mean that mass murder is NOT obviously wrong ??? ...... apples & apples.

Your Modus Operandi is a familiar one. You make a statement that conveys a certain belief system quite clearly, but affords you the room to wriggle free if required. Perhaps by trying to steer the conversation to one of styles of poetry or trying to change the frame of reference.

I repeat my question sir.

****Do YOU sir ... HERE and NOW ... believe that championing the cause of segregation is morally right ???****

If anyonee would like to help clarify my question so RRon understands it thoroughly please do.

And finally Sir, my tone implies nothing more than a frustration of a person trying to get a straight answer. Stand up Ron, be counted, If you have a belief, stand up for it and be counted. Don't shirk from the soapbox that you took a perch on ... Be a stand up guy Ron .... tell us what you believe, Lets not dance. I will give the likes of Strom Thurmond, David Duke and Jessie Helms credit that I, to this point, cannot give to you. They at least had the guts to stand up and say "This is what I believe" and be embraced or reviled based on these beliefs. I implore you Ron ..... Speak your mind.

[This message has been edited by The Lonely Stranger (12-24-2002 01:55 PM).]

Ron
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20 posted 12-24-2002 07:43 PM       View Profile for Ron   Email Ron   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Ron's Home Page   View IP for Ron

Have you stopped beating your children yet? C'mon, give me a YES or NO right now!

Your question, like mine, is loaded with assumptions that belie a yes or no answer. Whose brand of morality do you want to measure it against? Do you even know what segregation is? Do you want to use a 1912 definition of it? That one was ruled unconstitutional circa 1915 and is very different from the 1948 definition. And I rather strongly suspect that the 1948 definition is just as different from your 2002 definition. When you ask generalities, you can hardly demand specifics.

Morally right? A hammer and saw are tools and have no integral morality. They can be used to build or destroy with equal facility. Segregation, depending on which definition you choose, is just a tool. Morality is only attached to the intent to which you wish to put it. Do you really expect me to argue whether championing the use of a hammer is morally right?

I already stated, fairly unequivocally I thought, that I don't believe segregation works. You read that part, right? I even gave reasons, which I would hope were a tad more convincing than moral indignation. Segregation maintains the status quo and is anathema to learning. Segregation is counter-productive for everyone involved. It just plain doesn't work.

Define what you mean by segregation and we can talk more. Tell me why you think it is wrong.
Brad
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21 posted 12-24-2002 10:42 PM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

quote:
So many people supported extermination of a mass of people based on beliefs or heritage. Does this mean that mass murder is NOT obviously wrong ??


Mass murder is not obviously wrong. It's called war.

Slavery is not obviously wrong. It's called the draft.

Segregation is not obviously wrong, it's called his and her bathrooms.

None of this is what you're talking about, but, let's face it, you're not being very specific. Ron's right on the money with the hammer metaphor, you're trying to hammer agreement on a vague concept. Are you aware that in the 1960's there was an African American movement to keep segregation (but with new economic opportunities). The idea was simple, the preceding three hundred years makes it impossible to imagine a level playing field. Therefore, kind of like the rational for tarifs, African Americans need the time to build up an economic infrastructure before they can compete with European Americans.

I think the solution is incorrect, but the problem is not something we can afford to ignore.

If you look at the situation in Germany, are East Germans on the same playing field as West Germans? Nobody in their right mind wants North and South Korea to unite tomorrow. Most people want a stable, workable North Korean government that gradually introduces reform (Similar to China, dissimilar to Russia).

None of these arguments, as far as I know, were used by Strom in 1948, but you didn't ask whether Ron would have voted for Strom, you asked whether or not he agreed with segregation in general (he answered no by the way).

You asked for a simple answer to a difficult question.

Ever read "Catch 22"?

---------------------------

Thinking about this more, I think Lott's comments are more the result of Southern chauvanism fanned by a, you guessed it, victimization mentality.

The South does indeed have real life version of the Snopes family, but it also gave us Faulkner in the first place.
The Lonely Stranger
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22 posted 12-24-2002 11:48 PM       View Profile for The Lonely Stranger   Email The Lonely Stranger   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for The Lonely Stranger

[you asked whether or not he agreed with segregation in general (he answered no by the way).]

I could have missed it ... please quote it for me so that I may state that I was mistaken.

Brad
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23 posted 12-25-2002 04:57 PM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

quote:
Segregation maintains the status quo and is anathema to learning.


And then you quoted him:

quote:
Segregation maintains the status quo and is anathema to learning.


And unless that sentence doesn't convince you:

quote:
I already stated, fairly unequivocally I thought, that I don't believe segregation works. You read that part, right? I even gave reasons, which I would hope were a tad more convincing than moral indignation. Segregation maintains the status quo and is anathema to learning. Segregation is counter-productive for everyone involved. It just plain doesn't work.


Now, isn't that just a wee bit stronger than, "Segregation is wrong because, you know, it's wrong."
The Lonely Stranger
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24 posted 12-26-2002 05:55 PM       View Profile for The Lonely Stranger   Email The Lonely Stranger   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for The Lonely Stranger

Actually ....it seems as though those answers are technical answers .... my question was indeed aimed at the MORALITY of the practice ..... I want to learn about Ron and his value system ....his beliefs ....his morals.

Yours too if you care to answer.

... There is no normal life Wyatt, just life ... so live!

 
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