Comments on

No Apologies

Original entry posted: Wed Jun 15 19:55:03 2005

Madmunk @ Tue Jun 14 14:49:12 2005 EST

A few thoughts:

1. John Kerry's quoted somewhere as saying, "The fact that this doesn't have 100 co-sponsors says something." Does it? Is it enough to simply sign off on it or do senators have to be united in both proposing and assenting to this? To me, it looks like bandwagon-jumping and then punishing some senators who didn't jump quickly enough as well as those who didn't jump at all.

2. I don't know if anybody is actually taking this position, Lott certainly isn't, but would it be justified to refuse to sign off on this simply because it is such a transparent ploy? "Send me a real hate crime bill, and I'll sign it. This is just pandering, and I'm not going to waste the people's time and money with a bunch of empty apologies."

3. For the above reason, I don't think that an apology's the least the Senate can do. I've been at a funeral before and heard, "It's the least I can do. I only wish I could do more." You wish you could bring them back, but you can't so you do what you can to help the family. In this case, the Senate is saying, "Well, it's the least we can do. We only wish we could do more." The problem is they can do more, so stop wasting my time. It's apologizing not because it can't do more, but because it doesn't want to and for that reason, we should tell them to stuff their apology.

Madmunk @ Tue Jun 14 14:53:27 2005 EST

Of course, this could all just be the Catholic in me. The 4 steps in Reconciliation: contrition, confession, absolution, and satisfaction. They can be sorry, they can say as much, and we can forgive them, but until they pay for "what we have done and we have failed to do," it's nothing. If this is a stepping stone to a much larger project, great, but I think this is nothing more than, "Hey, we said we were sorry."

Thomas @ Tue Jun 14 15:09:04 2005 EST

Oh, I'm absolutely in agreement that this is no substitute for real hate-crimes legislation. As you say, the real problem is not that they've chose not to co-sponsor an empty gesture, it's that they've refused to show any indication of something better combined with that refusal.

An apology is weak and effectively useless, but it's better than nothing. I want to know why Lott and company can't even manage that.

Madmunk @ Tue Jun 14 15:31:24 2005 EST

I guess it's the absolutist in me - if they can't do it right, I wish they wouldn't bother.

And we all know why Trent "If Only Strom Were President" Lott, Lamar "Why can't you all just speak English?" Alexander, and company can't manage an apology. I'd love to see Reid, Kerry, or Dean just come out and say it: "This says something, you know. It says, 'You guys are racists.'"

Thomas @ Tue Jun 14 15:37:14 2005 EST

John at AmericaBlog has more information than I do.

Kalroy @ Wed Jun 15 01:19:00 2005 EST

It took them 100 years to apologize for overthrowing the government of Hawai'i. This time it only took the Democrats less than half a century to apologize for filibustering several civil rights bills. Ironically, there is still one congressman in office who actually did filibuster one of the civil rights acts. They should have him read the apology out loud on national television. He should do no less for killing civil rights bill after civil rights bill along with his fellow Democrats. Kalroy

Kalroy @ Wed Jun 15 01:25:20 2005 EST

Though I don't see why the Republicans should apologize since they helped push legislation through and weren't the ones that killed three separate civil rights acts. After all it was the Democrats, not the Republicans, who killed the 1957 Civil Rights Act and the 1960 Civil Rights Act and it was the Democrats who filibusterd the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Kalroy

Thomas @ Wed Jun 15 06:25:12 2005 EST


Reading up on the Dixiecrats and the Southern Strategy might explain my point of view more clearly. Suffice to say, like Strom Thurmond, they were Democrats then. They're Republicans now.

Kalroy @ Wed Jun 15 14:34:44 2005 EST

Not Byrd, not the Union goons who assault people, certainly not klukkers. And I tell you what, I have a LOT of exposure to blue-collar southerners and I've heard the word nigger used and had to talk to people I've worked with and to a person, not a single one was a Republican. The really weird part is that one of them was ex-military (weird because so few Democrats server their country). The industrial plant I work in now (sorta work at, I'm on disability with a popped achilles tendon) are almost all Republicans are ALL union and the level of overt, covert, and subconcious rascism I've seen is less than at any Democrat dominated construction or industrial job I've ever had. By the way, the amount of elitism and outright bigotry is also far far less than I experienced or saw while at Cal State among all the liberals I had class with (I was undercover, lol). It was pretty disgusting. Now I know these negative attitudes exist among Republicans, it has to, but I've not seen it. I have seen it among liberals and democrats, the really bad part is they are either bigoted or simply so elitist that they don't notice those people who are beneath them like the groundskeepers. I will say my time at Cal State really pissed me off though, I'd never seen that kind of dismissive attitude towards people who sweat for a living while in the military, and, since I was a lifelong Democrat from Hawai'i, never knew what the Democrat party was like or about outside of Hawai'i. Kalroy

Madmunk @ Wed Jun 15 15:38:40 2005 EST

I can't speak to Kalroy's experience with Democrats. It's unfortunate, to say the least, that Kalroy's had that experience because I've seen the opposite: racist hubristic Luddite bible-thumpers and racist craven free-market hawks.

In this particular case, it is interesting to note that, on a resolution sponsored by a Democrat and a Republican that apologizes for a dark chapter in American history, a resolution where you can add yourself as a cosponsor even after the fact, it's 15 Republican senators who refuse to do so. Why is that? There was no voice vote to force anyone to go on the record, so if they'd like to go on record as supporting it, and I would think they would, then all they have to do is add their name. If they don't, we'd simply like to know why.

I'm not asking for a loyalty oath - swear before God and all that you hold dear that you oppose lynching. I'm just asking why they won't sign.

Until we actually get a real explanation from these guys, I'm inclined to assume what some have already suggested and not without reason: a certain segment of the Republican party is indeed racist.

Thomas @ Wed Jun 15 15:55:03 2005 EST

I don't know anything about your experiences with liberals in California, although the ones I've met would be pretty self-loathing if they were racist and elitist.

But the relevant point here is not the past of Democrats or Republicans, frankly (I certainly won't claim any pride in Byrd's legacy). That's not what I wanted to know in the original post, and it's not what I want to know now. The relevant point is that of the people who have refused to sign the bill, they are all Republicans. Some of them are notorious for opposition to civil rights. Some of them are not.

Either way, the question I'm asking is not "Why should the Republicans do a good thing?" but "Why are they refusing to do so?"

I have yet to hear an answer to that question besides simple partisan bickering and excuses. Since even most of the rest of the Republicans (including, I might add, Tom Delay) have deigned to sponsor, I want to know what is different about these senators that they find it beneath their notice.

Madmunk says racism, and I find myself unable to find a better reason, frankly. Can you provide one?

Kalroy @ Wed Jun 15 16:23:11 2005 EST

Again, it could be because the Republican Party pushed for civil rights while the Democrats filibustered and torpedoed it.

The bill is a photo-op that has no real weight or purpose unless it adresses Congress's failure to pass Civil Rights laws. Maybe that's why they refuse to sign it, because no one wanted to mention the filibuster's role in that, or point the finger at who was responsible, or that they failed to pass civil rights legislation.

It could be because this refers not to the civil rights act but to the enactment of federal anti-lynching laws which were unconstitutional at the time (if you believe in a living constitution) because the Supreme Court held that such federal laws interefered with a states rights.

What would be appropriate is not Congress apologizing for not violating the Supreme Court's ruling, but for the Supreme Court to apologize for violating the intent of the Founders.


Kalroy @ Wed Jun 15 16:26:03 2005 EST

By the way, despite Denis Kucinich's propose legislation tommorrow (which gives terrorists victory while cutting and running from them in Iraq), ALL congressmen take a loyalty oath, as do all GIs and the President. I'm unfamilliar with the SCOTUS but it's probably similar. A loyalty oath is no big deal.

Thomas @ Wed Jun 15 16:28:29 2005 EST

You can't be serious. That's a nice straw man you've got there. Be a shame if anything happened to it.

Madmunk @ Wed Jun 15 16:53:14 2005 EST


Kalroy latches on to my throwaway phrase "loyalty oath" above. Kalroy, I was saying that becoming a cosponsor on the anti-lynching measure shouldn't be a big deal for these Republicans. I'm with Thomas. I want an explanation for why these guys won't sign.

You offer several explanations, none of which have been offered by the Republicans in question. Instead, some have even chosen to lie about their silence on this issue, claiming that they cannot add their name now that it has passed (which is false).

If Lamar "Why can't Latinos learn English?" Alexander wants to talk about filibusters and unconstitutional anti-lynching laws, I suggest you tell him to speak up because he's looking worse than ever considering his record on these issues.

Kalroy @ Wed Jun 15 22:49:12 2005 EST

As I recall the one statement I heard was specifically because the bill failed to address the role of the Democrats and their use of the filibuster. By the way, why can't Latinos be bothered to learn english? The ones I work with do, and they all are of the opinion that illegal immigration is wrong and that all immigrants should learn english. That is the same position held by other immigrants I know. I suggest you tell Byrd to speak up because his record on this issue is the absolute most abyssmal in congress. Far worse than Lamar Alexander, whose attitude toward English is the moderate mainstream one. The majority of people in this country agree with it, the counter point that you seem to decry is the radical attitude. Kalroy

Thomas @ Wed Jun 15 23:25:40 2005 EST

Why do you hate America?

Madmunk @ Thu Jun 16 06:08:09 2005 EST

Lamar Alexander's explanation from today's Tennessean:
"There is no resolution of apology that we can pass today that will teach one more child to read, prevent one more case of AIDS, or stop one more violent crime," Alexander said in a statement he inserted into the Congressional Record during the apology debate. "The best way for the United States Senate to condemn lynching is to get to work on legislation that would offer African-Americans and other Americans better access to good schools, quality health care and decent jobs."

Offhand, given the fact that I've seen evidence now, I'm willing to give at least Alexander the benefit of the doubt. No need to call anybody racist, but I plan to watch him now and see what he does in the way of creating economic and educational opportunities for African-Americans and the rest of us.

And you're misleadingly conflating today's Democrats with the Southern Democrats of yesteryear. These days, as Thomas has already argued, those conservatives and their ideology have moved to the Republicans. Think our mutual friend Senator Lott. And you're also resisting the fact that liberals came down on everybody that didn't sign on. There were Democrats on that list, but all have deigned to sign on since.

We all agree that this legislation is "empty pabulum," as La Shawn Barber, I think, called it. But if indeed it's an empty gesture, there'd be no harm in making it - unless it offended bigoted constituents. But Alexander has given us an explanation. Let's all get to work holding him and his party to the promise of economic and educational opportunities for all.

You'll forgive me for not holding my breath.

Madmunk @ Thu Jun 16 06:32:04 2005 EST

Cochran's explanation:
"I don't feel that I should apologize for the passage or the failure to pass any legislation by the U.S. Senate," Cochran said. "But I deplore and regret that lynchings occurred and that those committing them were not punished."

In the past, Cochran has signed on as a co-sponsor of bills apologizing for the U.S. government's mistreatment of American Indians and Japanese Americans. The difference is the lynching resolution was not an apology on behalf of the federal government but just the Senate.

Kalroy @ Fri Jun 17 17:58:40 2005 EST

Also anti-Lynching legislation would have been unconstitutional according to the SCOTUS of the time (see U.S. v. Cruikshank).

The court ruled that lynching a person (a hundred people in this case) did not deprive anyone of the privileges and immunities of national citizenship.

At the time it would have taken an actual amemdment to the Constitution for any anti-lynching legislation to be considered constitutional and the Democrats would never have allowed that.

As to hating America, that's pretty cold, and even in jest is uncalled for. I'll let it go this time. Kalroy

Kalroy @ Fri Jun 17 18:02:37 2005 EST

By the way, the Cruikshank decision was even nastier when you read the account of one of the mob there.

" the whites slaughtered many of the negroes as they rushed from the burning building, and many were ridden down in the open fields and shot without mercy. Those lying wounded on the court house square were pinned to the ground by bayonets. [About 48 were taken prisoner, and some of the mob were tasked with escorting them to jail.] .... When I got to the garden," continued Mr. Tanner, "I heard Luke Hadnot say, 'I can take five,' and five men stepped out. Luke lined them up and his old gun went off, and he killed all five of them with two shots. Then it was like popcorn in a skillet. They killed those forty-eight."


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