Wednesday, January 18, 2006

"All these problems..."

Words matter. If I didn't believe that was true, I wouldn't be sitting here typing this right now, nor do I think you would be reading it. If words didn't matter, I certainly wouldn't have spent the last 10 years working as a writer in various capacities. There are other ways to make a living.

Words are how we express our ideas, and our ideas form the basis of our actions. We can apologize for the words we say, we can say we were joking or that we didn't really mean it, we can even deny what we have said, but our words, once spoken aloud or printed on the page, become indelible.

That's why it matters now that Trent Lott is making a bid to regain a Senate leadership position that he said in 2002, at the late Sen. Strom Thurmond's birthday party, the country "wouldn't have had all these problems over all these years" if Thurmond had won the presidency in 1948. Strom Thurmond, you'll recall, was a Democrat who ran for president on the Dixiecrat ticket to protest Harry Truman's support of civil rights legislation. To what problems was Lott referring?

Memory tells me that Lott's defense was that he was referring to Thurmond's position on national security, but reporters who examined the Dixiecrat platform found scant mention of defense policies, and certainly little to indicate a departure from the containment policies of Truman, and, later, Eisenhower and Kennedy.

So what did Lott really mean? He could have said anything in praise of Thurmond's long career. Why pick such a divisive event so long past? Lott's comment was not merely offensive, but bizarre. It betrayed not just insensitivity and racism, but a profound misunderstanding of the nation's social and political culture. Not only does this man not deserve a Senate leadership position, he doesn't even deserve to be in the Senate.

Our words matter, and we should be held to account for them.


Blogger Sherry Pasquarello said...

i have a feeling that he has found some wiz bang spin doctor to turn the whole thing round and somehow make the man look like a civil rights pioneer!!!!
this country lives to spin, on spin and for spin!

5:20 PM

Blogger Jonathan Potts said...

I would agree.

6:48 PM


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