Sen. Trent Lott should resign. His statements about Strom Thurmond’s racist bid for the presidency in 1948 were highly inflammatory and divisive.
His half-hearted apology for his remarks is not acceptable. It was at best a feeble effort to placate the ire of the millions of Americans who cringe at his insensitivity. What sort of national leadership can be expected from a man who said he believes the United States would have been better served by an avowed racist had he been elected president over Harry Truman?
I was born and reared in Georgia and lived in the South in 1948. It was not a pretty sight – those discriminatory signs that refused “Negroes” the use of water fountains, of toilets, of lunch counters. The weekly pay for a day worker who cleaned houses in white neighborhoods or who did menial labor to sustain his family was about the amount a U.S. citizen pays today for a morning cup of special coffee.
We have seen the South prosper in ways unimaginable in 1948. This prosperity is a direct result of the defeat of the white supremacist notion in politics. Sen. Lott referred to this progress as “these problems.” Where has he been for the past 50-plus years? But more to the point, where will he try to lead the country in the upcoming two years as Senate Majority Leader?
Let us hear from our two Maine senators on the subject. Their response to the offensive remarks by their party leader should be swift and abundantly clear.