Waking Nightmare + Strom Thurmond is NOT CUTE
I've been having a lot of bad dreams lately. But they all pale in comparison to the fact that BUSH PUT HENRY KISSINGER IN CHARGE OF INVESTIGATING 9/11 AND NO ONE IS MAKING A FUSS ABOUT IT. The Bush admin seems to be making a specialty out of dusting off evil old men, calling them heroes--and then giving them really important jobs. (See Mark Fiore's animated cartoon "Cryogenic Staffing")
Luckily Michael Bronski has an excellent new column on the subject: "Henry Kissinger, John Poindexter, and Strom Thurmond: Old bad guys all polished up and presented as shiny new champions of peace and justice:"
WHAT’S WRONG WITH this country? The appointment of Henry Kissinger, a war criminal — well, an accused war criminal — to oversee a committee that will investigate national-security failures prior to September 11 is an international scandal, and only the Nation (as you would suspect) is paying attention. It’s true that the New York Times offered tentative criticism of the appointment, claiming that Kissinger may be a "less than staunchly independent" figure to lead a stalwart investigation into failures that may have led to the terrorist attacks that brought down the World Trade Center and ripped a hole in the Pentagon. But our opinion makers have by and large paid scant attention to what may be — depending on what the investigation finds — one of the most explosive and debatable appointments Bush ever makes.
But that’s not all. No one even noticed last February when John M. Poindexter — a convicted liar, thief, and traitor for his role in the 1986 Iran-contra affair during his tenure as national-security adviser under Ronald Reagan — was appointed to head the Pentagon’s newly formed Information Awareness Office. Only recently have reports come out about what that office is up to — spying on the American public — and Poindexter’s role in it all. But again, there’s been a disconcerting lack of outrage. In disturbing contrast to all this were the recent front-page stories previewing Strom Thurmond’s 100th birthday on December 5. What are we to make of the fact that the centennial celebration of a racist segregationist gets more attention than the appointment of a convicted secret conspirator to a Pentagon office designed to track our credit-card purchases?
Good question. I am continually amazed by people who seem to think Strom Thurmond is somehow cute just because he's really old.The man has a 70% approval rating! According to The State's fawning celebration of Thurmond's life and times, Thurmond "would like to be remembered by South Carolinians as the senator who cared." Cared about what? Keeping black people out of public schools and swimming pools? As Bronski writes:
GIVEN ALL THIS, what are we to make of the adoring coverage of Strom Thurmond’s 100th-birthday party? The front page of the November 29 New York Times featured a story about Senator Thurmond’s preparations for his December 5 birthday. As appalling as the news blackout on Poindexter’s appointment was, the celebration of Thurmond is — in a broader historical sense — even worse...
This is a man who spent decades fighting to deny basic human and civil rights to African-Americans. In 1957, he filibustered for 24 hours and 18 minutes in an attempt to stop passage of the one of the first congressional civil-rights bills. No surprise there, since he had broken away from the Democratic Party in 1948 to run against Harry S. Truman on a Dixiecrat platform that championed opposition to "the intermingling of races." It was during this time that "ol’ Strom," as he is known, publicly stated: "I want to tell you that there’s not enough troops in the Army to force the Southern people to break down segregation and admit the Negro race into our theaters, into our swimming pools, into our homes, and into our churches."... . Of course, in the 1950s, racists hotly resisted the idea of integration; and make no mistake, during this time Thurmond revealed himself as profoundly and indelibly racist. So much so that in the early 1950s, he was quoted saying: "Our niggers is better off than most anybody’s niggers, why, they got washing machines and some of ’em even got televisions. I can’t understand why they complaining."
So why is Thurmond celebrated in such sentimental fashion? In 48 years as a senator, he has proposed no striking legislation and chaired no important committees. Indeed, he’s made very few worthwhile contributions at all. What he has done is become a symbol — and a very potent one at that — of a deeply entrenched conservatism that many Americans are reluctant to give up... . Like a Norman Rockwell painting that has gone the way of the picture of Dorian Gray, Thurmond is a living relic of an American past that reminds people of a world that never existed...
I could keep quoting, but why don't you read it yourselves? ..but I'm still going to quote his conclusion because it's really right-on:
Optimists crow that the past is merely a nightmare from which we awaken. That doesn’t seem to be the case at this moment in US history. As the weeks have ground on, it’s become increasingly clear that George Bush’s vision of America’s future is deeply rooted in its past. Not simply some sentimental fantasy of small towns and Fourth of July parades and apple pies set out on country tables, but a nightmarish past that features not new bad guys, but the old bad guys all polished up and presented as shiny new champions of peace, justice, and 1984. There is little doubt that September 11, 2001, is a date that will be forever burned into history. It will not simply mark the first large-scale terrorist attack on the United States, but also the beginning of a new page in American history — one in which the US government, after decades of slow, but steady movement into a brighter future, abruptly changed direction and marched forthrightly and unblinkingly into the worst horrors of our past.
All I can say is "EXACTLY." And speaking of people getting nostalgic for evil old men, an Esquire survey just named Ronald Reagan the "greatest living American."