Byrd’s pass­ing

Austin American-Statesman - - OPINION -

Sen. Robert Byrd of West Vir­ginia dies, and the lib­eral es­tab­lish­ment ex­tol his virtues to the heav­ens. Some­one finds out that a Uni­ver­sity of Texas build­ing was named af­ter a fel­low who had been in the KKK in the past, and all are shout­ing to the heav­ens that his name be re­moved lest all be of­fended.

Then we are re­minded that Byrd was also a mem­ber of the KKK at one time, and we hear not a peep from any­one. mar­sHaLL e. kuyk­enDaLL


Byrd’s pass­ing has re­fu­eled the con­tro­versy over re­nam­ing Simkins Hall. The right ar­gues that we should re­spect Texas’ his­tor­i­cal fig­ures — even if they were froth­ing racists as­so­ci­ated with the worst crimes in the USA. The usual barbs have been thrown, mostly ac­cu­sa­tions that Democrats are play­ing the race card.

Now the sen­a­tor’s death has drawn at­ten­tion to his un­sa­vory past and ex­alted Klan mem­ber­ship. Need­less to say, the right re­joices at this op­por­tu­nity to charge lib­eral hypocrisy.

But the point be­ing missed in this po­lar­ized po­lit­i­cal cli­mate is about so­cial at­ti­tude, not party la­bel. (Lin­coln, af­ter all, was a Repub­li­can — in name.) It’s not about who was a Demo­crat, who was a Repub­li­can.

It’s about rec­og­niz­ing the civil in­jus­tices of the past and com­mit­ting to level the play- ing field — ac­knowl­edg­ing that some are more for­tu­nate than oth­ers, and that we are all in this to­gether to­day.

JoHn robey john­


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