Tuesday, December 18, 2007

"Senators For Segregation." OK, Not Really. But Who Cares What They Really Said?

A Post By Matthew Yglesias:

Remember when Trent Lott was lavishing praise on Strom Thurmond's 1948 run for president on a white supremacist platform? Remember how most of his fellow conservatives disavowed him? Well, here's Senator Gordon Smith (R-OR) praising Lott's defense of white supremacy. And then Orrin Hatch (R-UT) did it. And then Arlen Specter (R-PA) did it.

If you read Matt's post without following the links and watching the links, you would think that Lott defended white Supremacy and that Senators Smith, Hatch, and Specter agreed with that defense. That's the plain meaning of Matt's statement.

But if you follow the links, and watch the videos of the statements by Senators Smith, Hatch, and Specter, that's not what they're saying at all. They're saying that Lott's statements were unfairly misconstrued, and that he did not, in fact, defend white supremacy.

These three Senators are not "praising Lott's defense of white supremacy. They're saying it wasn't a defense of white supremacy at all. That the meaning attributed to him was not his true meaning, and that he was unfairly maligned. Now if you want to argue they're wrong, and that he was maligned fairly, fine. Make that argument. But don't attribute statements to people that they didn't make.

Here are the YouTube videos from Matt's links, if you care to judge for yourself:


Kari Chisholm said...

OK, explain this quote from Gordon Smith in 2002.

"However they were intended, Senator Lott's words were offensive and I was deeply dismayed to hear of them ... His statement goes against everything I and the people of Oregon believe in. I look forward to working with my Republican colleagues to arrive at a decision that is best for the U.S. Senate and the country."

Three days later:

"I appreciate that Senator Lott has stepped down, it was a courageous thing for him to do..."Senator Lott's decision is best for the Senate and best for the country."

cheerful iconoclast said...

You mean a Senator is being two-faced? I'm shocked!

If Gordon Smith thought, in 2002, that Lott was being misconstrued, he should have defended him, not piled on. It is certainly hypocritical for him, now, to decry the piling-on when, back in 2002, he was one of the pilers.

But that doesn't alter my original point, which is that Matt's post simply is not an accurate characterization of what these guys actually, you know, said.

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